Chemical engineers work in manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, healthcare, design and construction, pulp and paper, petrochemicals, food processing, specialty chemicals, polymers, biotechnology, and environmental health and safety industries, among others. Within these industries, chemical engineers rely on their knowledge of mathematics and science, particularly chemistry, to overcome technical problems safely and economically. And, of course, they draw upon and apply their engineering knowledge to solve any technical challenges they encounter. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that chemical engineers only make things, though. Their expertise is also applied in the area of law, education, publishing, finance, and medicine, as well as many other fields that require technical training.
Specifically, chemical engineers improve food processing techniques, and methods of producing fertilizers, to increase the quantity and quality of available food. They also construct the synthetic fibers that make our clothes more comfortable and water resistant; they develop methods to mass-produce drugs, making them more affordable; and they create safer, more efficient methods of refining petroleum products, making energy and chemical sources more productive and cost effective. They also develop solutions to environmental problems, such as pollution control and remediation. More detailed information about Chemical Engineering is available on the Career Cornerstone Center's Chemical Engineering site.
Career Guidance Suggestions for Pre-University Students:
Pre-University students should take as many math and science courses as possible, both during school and as part of after-school programs. Students aged 5-9 should do additional math, puzzles, and building or design projects. Students aged 9-12 should take extra math, and if inspired, explore pre-algebra and geometry. Students aged 12-18 might consider taking advanced algebra, chemistry, calculus, geometry, trigonometry, physics, building, design, and engineering concept courses.
There are also several lessons and activities, and projects and competitions that can help provide students with an interest in engineering first hand exposure to electrical engineering principals. Students who implement these activities and participate in projects or competitions have a better understanding of engineering and its impact on society. They'll be better able to determine if engineering is the career path for them by sharing their interest with other students, and experiencing hands-on applications of engineering. Summer programs and internships are another great way for students at the pre-university level to explore engineering.