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Old 01-22-2009, 07:25 PM   #1
kingbean
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Default What is Chemical Engineering about? What does a Chemical Engineer do?

Hey, i'm currently offerered a position in nus chemical engineering, but i'm worried about the job prospects later on in life as the engineering field doesn't seem as popular as before. Moreover, the recession seems to have hit the chemical engineering sector pretty bad and i'm actually considering whether i should try to change my course as people seem to be going crazy over business this few days. What are your views? Is chemical engineering on the down and is it not able to offer high salaries as they use to claim?
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Old 01-22-2009, 09:19 PM   #2
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Agreed that engineering isn't as popular as it used to be. But why base your decision on the popularity of the course?

As for career prospects, its really hard to say what happen in 4-6 years time, but there will always be a decent need for engineers. What are your interests? I get the feeling you aren't too keen on engineering in the first place?
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Old 02-11-2009, 09:59 PM   #3
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Hi, what exactly does a chemical engineer do? Do they just control machines? Set the optimum conditions for the substances to react to get the max yield? Does it mean that their job is to face the machines with not much of social interaction, compared to those of a healthcare worker? Well, other than looking at the pay/popularity, i guess we should look at what they do and see if it suit our interests and personality.

Anyway, if a job is too popular, it may be very competitive.
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Old 02-25-2009, 03:00 PM   #4
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Chemical engineers are still in good demand nowadays especially in research and also in emerging industries such as energy systems. They fabricate and design various machines. For energy systems, they could be involved in production of hydrothermal, geothermal and solar energy.
Traditionally, chemical engineers are involved in the crude oil and natural gas production but that industry is of course fading.
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Old 02-25-2009, 11:11 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by studygm View Post
Chemical engineers are still in good demand nowadays especially in research and also in emerging industries such as energy systems. They fabricate and design various machines. For energy systems, they could be involved in production of hydrothermal, geothermal and solar energy.
Traditionally, chemical engineers are involved in the crude oil and natural gas production but that industry is of course fading.
lol, sound like you cut and paste from a google search.
How can a local chemical engineer be involved in hydrothermal, geothermal energy systems? Solar energy requires inputs from electrical engineers and physicists, perhaps material engineers. Chemical engineers DO NOT DESIGN MACHINES.

Anyway KingBean, i suggest u accept the offer as opposed to taking a business course. Chemical engineering is a specialized course, with experience, an engineer in a company with specialised knowledge is virtually irreplaceable.
Chemical engineering is popular, it's just that banking, finance etc has been overly glamorized with news report, TV and pop culture. Do the average person working in a bank earn more than an engineer...I do not think so. When times are bad, who fire first ? ( banks...)

Traditionally, the chemical engineer has the highest average starting salary for a fresh graduate ( don't expect 5K , 10K starting pay, but a mid 3K range with rapid increment is normal)

so what do chemical engineers do? Sadly, not many people know. There are 3 kind of chemical engineers.
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Old 02-25-2009, 11:32 PM   #6
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manufacturing engineers. Typically 80% of engineers fall into this category.
If you are free, go to boon lay bus interchange, hope onto bus 254 and it will take you through the Tuas industrial estate, along the way u will see a refinery, a pharmaceutical manufacturing site, food manufacturing company etc. ( if you can get into Jurong Island, you can see more). They all employ chemical engineers.
Basically, a manufacturing engineer looks after/optimse the plant process. Depending on the type of plant, they might look after different things. For a pharmaceutical engineer, he has to worry about the optimum temperature/pressure for a set of bacteria to grow, how to improve the controls for the conditions etc. The petrolchemical engineer might monitor catalyst life, how to adjust petroleum refining so that the different cut of the crude oil matches market conditions etc.
It's an interesting, dynamic environment that is challenging to work in.
You are the businessman for the plant you work in b/c as u understand the process, u are also the person who can modify it and help your company make $$. For example, drug Y ( eg, a cure for AIDS ) is something that company X expect the market demand to explode. You plant currently make drug Z which is on the decline. As the process engineer, u can study whether exisiting plant facilities can let the plant make drug Y or not, what modification is needed, how much this modification cost compared to the profit etc.
Well, the business guy can do his market analysis to tell u some stupid market prediction ( OF CSE A CURE FOR AIDS WILL SEE TERRIFIC GROWTH DUDE...), but only u have the ability to see that your plant can manufacture this drug ( or decides that it's too costly to manufacture drug Y)
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Old 02-26-2009, 09:09 AM   #7
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Wow, insightful post

So what are the other 2 kinds of chemical engineers? And which are the major companies that employ them?
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Old 02-26-2009, 06:30 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cosycatus View Post
manufacturing engineers. Typically 80% of engineers fall into this category.
If you are free, go to boon lay bus interchange, hope onto bus 254 and it will take you through the Tuas industrial estate, along the way u will see a refinery, a pharmaceutical manufacturing site, food manufacturing company etc. ( if you can get into Jurong Island, you can see more). They all employ chemical engineers.
Basically, a manufacturing engineer looks after/optimse the plant process. Depending on the type of plant, they might look after different things. For a pharmaceutical engineer, he has to worry about the optimum temperature/pressure for a set of bacteria to grow, how to improve the controls for the conditions etc. The petrolchemical engineer might monitor catalyst life, how to adjust petroleum refining so that the different cut of the crude oil matches market conditions etc.
It's an interesting, dynamic environment that is challenging to work in.
You are the businessman for the plant you work in b/c as u understand the process, u are also the person who can modify it and help your company make $$. For example, drug Y ( eg, a cure for AIDS ) is something that company X expect the market demand to explode. You plant currently make drug Z which is on the decline. As the process engineer, u can study whether exisiting plant facilities can let the plant make drug Y or not, what modification is needed, how much this modification cost compared to the profit etc.
Well, the business guy can do his market analysis to tell u some stupid market prediction ( OF CSE A CURE FOR AIDS WILL SEE TERRIFIC GROWTH DUDE...), but only u have the ability to see that your plant can manufacture this drug ( or decides that it's too costly to manufacture drug Y)
Wow.. Thanks Cosycatus. It seems like a chem engineer's job is quite interesting afterall. Heh, ya.. then what are the other 2 types?? It seems like pharmaceutical engineer, petrolchemical engineer or any chem engineer in food/perfume/etc are all very similar; they set optimum conditions and ensure maximum yield at a low production cost isn't it? Are there any stark difference b/w those specialized engineers, apart from they deal with different chemicals?

Thanks in advance!
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Old 02-26-2009, 11:19 PM   #9
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continuing manufacturing engineer's role....
sockmui is quite correct in saying that the role of the process engineer is to set optinum to ensure maximum yield of the DESIRED molecule...and if a proces which is supposed to be doing that isn't, the job is the troubleshoot it..Find out the weakest link, and solved the problem...
That being said, the chemical engineering course in NUS do not equip students to work very well as manufacturing engineers. It's overly academic and they are still teaching really archaic/usless modules. Important things they don't teach you well or even remove the modules ( just before my year, they remove a module which teaches you the units and how they operate in the plant. I went to work not EVEN knowing what are the different types of heat exchangers...my seniors were so shocked..) The unimportant ones they force you to learn so much. ( WTF do i need to learn how to do triple intergration in spherical coordinates for at undegraduate level?? )) So far, i think it's really the quality of the student this course attracts rather than the teaching that still maintains the overall caliber of locally trained chemical engineers.

anyway..more to come soon...i need to go sleep...
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Old 02-27-2009, 09:40 PM   #10
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Thx man! For spending time to educate me this noob..

Quote:
Originally Posted by cosycatus View Post
That being said, the chemical engineering course in NUS do not equip students to work very well as manufacturing engineers. It's overly academic and they are still teaching really archaic/usless modules.
Hmm, so does it mean that NTU provides a better foundation for Chemical Engineers? But NUS is more internationally recognize, isn't it? It got a much higher World ranking than NTU..
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