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Engineering Chemical Engineering vs. Electrical Engineering

  1. Feb 7, 2010 #1

    I am very new to the forums, and I ran across another form discussing these two topics; however the previous thread was mainly discussing nanotechnology. I am interested to find out which carrier I should pursue: chemical eng. or Elec. Eng.?

    I am extremely interested in both, although I can't quite chose. Can you help me distinguish between the two, and which do you feel is a better carrier?

    Any thoughts would be appreciated,
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 28, 2010 #2
    I am a sophomore in ChemE. I am taking an elective in EE and for a while I was strongly considering changing my major to EE or software engineering.

    In what I have seen, the overwhelming majority of jobs for cheme grads is process engineering. You will probably use general engineering and thermodynamics more than the purported chemistry and biology. However, it is a good career.

    If you are interested in Technology, meaning the functioning of electronics, computers, communications systems, then go with EE. This is the only reason why I considered changing majors. What you learn in ChemE is interesting, but not very applicable to your personal life. EE is very applicable and useful, in my opinion.

    For you, the better career is the one that interests you most. They both pay well and offer good prospects for advancement.

    Also, if you are equally interested in chemistry and electronics, then go with EE. This is because you don't necessarily do much with chemistry in chemical engineering.

    The reason I decided to stay in ChemE was because I want to do research and will probably go to graduate school rather than working as a process engineer in a plant.
  4. Feb 28, 2010 #3
    This might be a stupid comment to make, but perhaps the decision can be narrowed down in a simple way.

    Do you have a strong preference for physics over chemistry, or vice versa. If so, make the choice based on that. EE uses much physics and very little chemistry.
  5. Mar 1, 2010 #4
    Thanks for this post. Can you give us more details about chemical engineering? Thanks.
  6. Mar 2, 2010 #5
    chemical engr has actually little to do with chemistry. as the above poster noted, you are more likely a process engr. some people get jobs being meter readers coming out of college. some chemical engrs do more fabrication and stuff (thats pushing more towards mat sci, but everyone plays in mat sci so whatever).

    have you sat down and looked at the classes you need to take as a chemical engr?
    separations, fluid dynamics, heat transfer/thermodynamics, reactor design, control systems, etc.
    it overlaps a lot more with mech e rather than chemistry.

    try finding out what topics/aspect of those topics interest you. labels (aka majors) dont mean much if you have the know-how.
    don't believe me? the last two Nobel prizes in Chemistry were for RNA structure and fluorescent proteins. before that, it was surface chemistry. back in 1998, it was for density function theory... something that's more along the lines of theoretical physics. chemistry in particular is a telling example, as it is a central science, but the general idea holds more than you would think.
  7. Mar 2, 2010 #6
    Thanks for the information, flemmyd. The topics that interest me in chemical engineering are energy, nanotech, biotech, and materials. May I trouble you for some examples of tasks performed by chem engineers as well as the tools they use, mathematical techniques utilized, and other pertinent information?
  8. Mar 5, 2010 #7
    Honestly, I'm not an engineer. I'm a chemist (hoping to add physicists, formally an engineer). I'm sure other people can give you a better answer.

    first, elaborate a little.
    nanotech: the large scale fabrication? if you do synthesis, you might actually be a bit of a pure chemist.
    biotech: like developing prosthetic parts and what not? or like genetic engr and stuff?
    materials: really more of something that you work with to get you desired area:
    (for example: you're engine needs blah blah heat properties and can only be so dense due to weight. what material do you use?)
  9. Mar 5, 2010 #8
    Great replies, I thank all of you.

    I think for now I'm going to continue ChemE because I'm interested in working in the petroleum industry; although many good points were made in this thread, I may actually go after EE eventually... I don't know; I guess I'll just keep pushing forward and see where I end up.

    Thanks again for all the insight.
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