Chemical Engineering

"Scientists discover the world that exists; engineers create the world that never was." Theodore Von Karman

Chemical EngineeringChemical Engineering students study the science and engineering of processes in which materials, not just chemicals, undergo some sort of change, chemical or physical or both.

The title Chemical Engineering is therefore synonymous with Process Engineering. The applications of these changes are essential to a wide variety of industrial processes - for example:

  • brewing and freeze-drying in the food industry,
  • refining fuels and lubricants,
  • or producing man-made fibres, synthetic detergents or plastics in the petrochemical industry.

They also learn about process automation and control to ensure that processes are optimised and made more productive and efficient, and that they are operated safely.

Chemical Engineers are educated and trained to be conscious of the wide needs of society and the dangers facing the global environment. Chemical plants must be designed and built to minimise their impact on landscapes and to ensure that their operation will not cause pollution.

Chemical PlantRecycling processes for paper, plastics, glass and many other materials are devised by Chemical Engineers; they also apply their knowledge in areas such as the generation of energy and the extraction of metals, which are fundamental to the agricultural, manufacturing, commercial and domestic activities of modern society. Much of their work is crucial for developing countries as well as for industrialised nations.

Many people are also unaware of the contributions that Chemical Engineers make to medical science by developing drugs and artificial organs; or to the health of the community by designing plants for water purification and effluent treatment. The issue of sustainable development is very high on the agenda of all Chemical Engineering activities.

Chemical Engineers are the highest paid of all engineers. The IChemE's 2008 salary survey showed that the average salary for graduate engineers was £26,000. The reason is simple - their expertise and knowledge are required in many industrial sectors, from the production of silicon chips and new materials to the manufacture and processing of bulk chemicals and polymers. So, as a Chemical or Process Engineer, you might be:

  • solving the problems encountered in one of these processes;
  • working alongside scientists and engineers from other disciplines to design and commission manufacturing complexes of the future;
  • a production manager co-ordinating the raw materials, manpower and energy consumption to ensure that the production process operates cleanly, safely and efficiently.

Student in laboratoryYou may even develop a career in the world of commerce, making use of your knowledge to predict chemical market trends and to perform financial audits on production sites. The face of Chemical and Process Engineering is constantly evolving and career paths are vast and varied. A Chemical Engineering degree will leverage the opportunity for a challenging and exciting career!

Find out more: