The primary task of chemical engineers is the design of industrial processes that chemically transform various natural resources into more useful and valuable products. These products range from paper and gasoline to medicines and computer microchips. The chemical engineer is constantly concerned with improving these processes to best conserve resources (including capital) while preserving and protecting the environment along with the health and wellbeing of the public.
The education of the chemical engineer covers advanced chemistry, physics, biology, mathematics, general engineering, computer applications, material balances, energy balances, chemical equilibria, thermodynamics, kinetics and reactor design, unit operations and transport processes, and process control, with laboratories emphasizing these areas along with oral and written communication skills.
Graduates in chemical engineering are particularly versatile. Industrial work may involve the production, operations, customer service, sales, or research departments of industries producing semiconductors, microchips, metals, paper, petroleum, petrochemicals, plastics, forest products, pharmaceuticals, or foods or the technical service or process improvement sections of such industries. In addition, chemical engineers are increasingly in demand in emerging fields such as nanosystems engineering and nanotechnology. Meaningful careers are also available with governmental agencies or private foundations associated with space, energy, and the environment. Graduate education in medical school, dental school, business school, law school, and chemical engineering are viable alternatives. At the undergraduate level, the purpose of the program is to provide a strong basic education such that the graduate will be prepared for all these options.
Chemical Engineering Program Educational Objective
- Alumni, 3-5 years beyond graduation, are engaged in the practice of chemical engineering primarily within the chemical, petrochemical, and paper and pulp industries and/or advance study.
The Chemical Engineering Program is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET, www.abet.org. Graduates of this program are encouraged to become registered professional engineers.
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