Dipping into chemical engineering

For someone who has studied both chemistry and engineering, it is somewhat of a surprise that I have had so little exposure to the chemical engineering sector. I did go and meet the admissions tutor for chemical engineering at the University of British Columbia when I was 21, but was put off by the large format pictures of oil rigs. A year later, my fourth year chemistry research project ‘Solute Binding by Surfactant Molecules’ did have some application to the chemical engineering process of foam fractionation. Other than these flirtations over ten years ago, chemical engineering has been largely off my radar, until this afternoon.

At Think Up we are looking at how the practical problem solving-based approach that we have taken to construction education (for example on the Big Rig and at the Constructionarium) can be applied in other sectors of engineering. With its mix of advanced technical understanding and practical problem-based approach, chemical engineering seems a natural fit. And so today I have been immersing myself in all the reading material I can find from the IChemE website.

What is striking about the careers advice about chemical engineering is the way the profession is described as providing for basic human needs: food, water, fuel, materials, health – this sounds familiar: it’s an awful lot like what their engineering cousins say about themselves over at the civils. Indeed, I feel like I’ve just been introduced to someone with whom I immediately find I have a huge amount in common…and can’t quite believe it has taken us this long to meet.

Chemical Engineering careers advice

The site whynotchemeng has excellent careers advice for 6th formers interested in studying chemical engineering. My favourite quote is from the student who describes chemical engineering as Wily Wonka style creativity with a dose common sense. Sounds right up my street!