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Chemical Engineering / Organic Chemistry

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Hi all,

I have decided to do a second degree since my first degree (math) hasn't given me many options for work or graduate study that I'm interested in pursuing. I am strongly considering chemical engineering, since I am enjoying my chemistry course so far and have the strength in math to be suitable for engineering.
However, after looking at the syllabus for the 4 year chemical engineering program at my university ( UT Austin ), I was somewhat dismayed to see 2 semesters of required organic chemistry and no inorganic chemistry. I would probably take inorganic as an elective, but the emphasis on organic struck me as odd. I have looked over some past notes/exams for organic chemistry and it doesn't look as interesting to me as inorganic. I've heard quite a few negative comments directed its way - for example my stepfather switched out of a pre med degree because of organic chemistry.
If there are any chemical engineers / chemists out there, how did you find organic chemistry? And if one doesn't like it, is it still worth doing a chemical engineering degree? Any general advice on the matter would be very welcome.

Thanks, Nick
 

Answers and Replies

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I am an amateur chemical engineer, in my sophomore year of undergrad studies. I would guess that the reason so much organic chemistry is required is because most of what we deal with in chemistry on our carbon-based planet is organic. Just looking around my house, I don't see much that doesn't have carbon in some form. Maybe some of the metal alloys in my house isn't organic, but pretty much everything else is. Regardless, because reactions with the carbon-hydrogen bond is so common, in almost any chemistry related field you would need to understand how these reactions occur, and in engineering, how to induce or prevent them. I don't think inorganic chemistry is useful in the job market if thats what you're looking for, most chemical engineering jobs are in the oil industry (organic), pharmaceutical engineering (organic), etc. Hope this helps!

Organic chemistry, for me, wasn't all that different from other chemistry subjects. Chemistry involves remembering a lot of rules of how/why things react with each other to predict what will happen in a lab to use in useful application. I consider it all slightly different variations of what is essentially the same thing: chemistry. If you enjoy chemistry then I'm sure you would enjoy organic chemistry. While it may be a little bit harder than an introductory chemistry course as one would naturally anticipate, it wasn't too tough for me to study hard through it since it's a subject I enjoy.

Zac
 
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Organic Chemistry was my favorite course in my whole undergrad program (B.S. in Chemistry) and really, it's not very hard. Any Chemistry or Chemical Engineering program without it would be fundamentally flawed. Inorganic Chemistry was a third/fourth year course for me and was far more abstract than Organic Chemistry since we used a Group Theoretical approach. However, for going into something like Materials Science, Inorganic Chem is mandatory. Couple that with some Engineering courses in ceramics or polymers as well as their analysis (using things like XRD, Electron microscopy, etc.) and you'll be doing well. Still, we come back to the importance of O. Chem--there's no coherent way of explaining polymeric reactions without a knowledge of organic chemistry.

What you should realize: the line betwen organic chemistry and inorganic chemistry is often very blurry. When it comes to something like designing a catalytic reaction, an understanding of both is necessary. Organometallic chemistry is a really a mut between the two fields.

In short, if you can, take both classes. :)
 
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In short, if you can, take both classes. :)
Right on the money! I agree 100%.
 

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