What do chemical engineers do? Like all other engineers, chemical engineers combine their skills in mathematics, economics, and physics to solve problems with the manufacturing of products. Unlike the other subfields of engineering though, chemical engineers integrate knowledge and expertise of chemistry to solve issues involving the use of chemicals, drugs, food, gasoline, dyes, fertilizers, and many other products used in our daily lives.
Often considered “universal engineers,” chemical engineers have broad scientific knowledge and technical mastery that can be applied to designing and manufacturing many products.
Chemical Engineer Duties:
- Conduct research studies for evaluating manufacturing processes and equipment to ensure it complies with environmental and safety standards
- Develop new safety precautions for those working with potentially harmful chemicals and substances
- Solve problems and troubleshoot errors in the manufacturing processes
- Develop new and improved manufacturing processes, as well as design the layout of new technology and equipment
- Monitor or supervise the performance of processes throughout the production period
- Estimate production expenses for management and offer suggestions for more cost-effective and environmentally friendly methods
- Create processes to separate elements of liquids or gases, and to generate electrical currents through chemical processes
- Devise methods for making products from raw materials or convert one material into another more useful form
Since chemical engineering is such a broad field of work, chemical engineers can find a niche in a wide variety of scientific and engineering professions. The chemical engineer job description depends heavily on the area of specialization. For instance, some chemical engineers will focus their research and design on oxidation, which is the process of burning chemicals to create others. Others will work in nanomaterials to develop extremely small substances and products. Some may also be employed in positions where a specialty in polymerization is needed to plan effective methods for making plastics.
Chemical engineers may also work in various other industries besides chemical manufacturing. They can work in producing clothing, paper, electronics, energy, and food. Sometimes they may find opportunities in the health care, business, and biotechnology industries as well. While it is increasingly obvious that jobs for chemical engineers differ greatly, all need to possess proficient skills in physics, mathematics, biology, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and obviously chemistry. They must have a thorough understanding of manufacturing processes, as well as environment and safety procedures to ensure products are safe for consumers. Chemical engineers are vital members of the manufacturing team that produces all of the chemicals, drugs, and products that human society depends on.