Attending a Chemical Engineering University
Chemical engineering universities and colleges train students in the processes involved for changing raw materials into products, and how to solve some of today's pressing technological problems. Chemical engineering degree programs prepare students for a career as a chemical engineer or technician, and focus on academic subjects including physics, mathematics, engineering, biology and chemistry. Most graduates work for firms in the petrochemical, chemical, pharmaceutical, textile manufacturing, paper and pulp, and semiconductor industries. Most accredited schools offer both undergraduate and graduate programs, and some have research facilities onsite.
Training at Chemical Engineering Universities and Colleges
Many universities that have a dedicated School of Chemical Engineering offer a variety of degree programs and training sessions for aspiring chemical engineers. Students attending a chemical engineering university typically learn about basic practices of chemical engineering, work on hands-on research projects, and learn basic leadership and technical skills that can be applied to professional, governmental and scientific organizations.
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Training programs typically prepare students in the following areas:
- Applying math, science and engineering principles to solve chemical engineering problems
- Use critical thinking and creative problem-solving skills
- Conduct experiments and apply results to chemical systems and processes
- Designing a system, component or process to meet certain criteria
- Using modern computational tools for chemical engineering projects
- Understand contemporary issues related to the practice of chemical engineering, including business practices, health and safety issues, and environmental issues
Getting a Chemical Engineering Degree
Students interested in pursuing a chemical engineering degree program typically need to apply for placement in the College of Engineering at an accredited university or college, or apply directly to chemical engineering schools. Students must be proficient in college-level mathematics, laboratory sciences, biology, and have strong computer skills.
Chemical engineering degree programs prepare students to design systems, solve chemical engineering problems and create systems that convert raw materials into fuel and products. These programs provide students with a working knowledge of chemical processes, safety protocol, heat mass and momentum transfer, chemical reaction engineering, process design and modern computing techniques. Students completing a chemical engineering degree program may choose to specialize or declare a minor in areas such as:
- Bioprocess Engineering
- Hydrogen Technology
- Polymer Science and Engineering
- Mineral Processing
- Alternative Fuels
- Consumer Product Manufacturing
Types of Chemical Engineering Courses
The curriculum varies only slightly for those who specialize in general chemical engineering, chemical-biological engineering and biomedical engineering. Some of the most common types of courses available at a chemical engineering university, college or school include:
- Fluid Mechanics of Bioengineering Systems
- Bioengineering Transport Phenomena
- Colloidal Forces and Thermodynamics
- Chemical Reaction Engineering
- Heterogeneous Catalysis
- General Transport Phenomena
- Chemical Engineering Applications of Thermodynamics
- Advanced Polymer Processing
- Bioprocess Engineering
- Polymer Solution Thermodynamics
- Numerical Methods in Chemical Engineering
- Environmental Transport Process
- Surfactant Self-Assembly
Training Programs at Chemical Engineering Schools
Most schools provide students with both classroom and hands-on training so that students have a chance to conduct experiments, test theories and learn about different computational methods and processes. Training programs at chemical engineering schools can run anywhere from four to six years, and some universities offer doctoral programs for students who want to explore advanced research studies in the field. Some training programs also include an internship component.
Careers with a Chemical Engineering Degree
Chemical engineering can be a competitive industry and many individuals with a bachelor's or master's degree find work in the field of electronics, paper, pharmaceuticals and food. Demand for chemical engineers who specialize in waste reduction and biohazard cleanup remains strong.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wages for chemical engineers in May 2009 were $88,280. The majority work for architectural and engineering firms, basic chemical manufacturing companies, scientific research and development services, and in the oil and gas extraction industry.