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Do chemical engineers only work with power plants?

  1. Nov 5, 2013 #1
    I looked into the field of chemical engineering because of my interests in chemistry and making things, but I saw only things that involved power plant. Do chemical engineers do anything besides building, maintaining and supervising power plants?

  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 5, 2013 #2
    Sure. They work with chemistry in many fashions. In grad school one of my fellow researchers was a chemical engineering grad, he was doing some solid state physics/chemistry research. Also, near my house is a chemical production facility that is advertising a position for a chemical engineer to be in charge of safety on site.
  4. Nov 5, 2013 #3
    OK so what other products or things can chemical engineers make?
  5. Nov 5, 2013 #4

    Simon Bridge

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    Chemical Engineering bridges chemistry with physics.
    Since you've "looked into the field", you have, no doubt, come across the many resources online telling you what chemical engineers do, what sorts of things they work on, etc.

    For example:
    http://cbe.sdsmt.edu/whatis.html [Broken]

    ... so, to avoid us just repeating what you've already found out, please refine your question.
    What can we tell you that these resources have not?
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  6. Nov 7, 2013 #5
    I know chemical engineers who work with pyrometallurgy, smelting, refining, heep leaching, flotation, flocculation, etc. etc. in the mining and minerals processing industry. Chemical engineers tend to make good "process" engineers.
  7. Nov 7, 2013 #6


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    Plastics, dyes, explosives, pharmaceuticals, rubber and other polymers, synthetic fibres, paint, etc., etc.
  8. Nov 9, 2013 #7
    Friends of mine with ChemE degrees worked for a plastics company in an R&D function to develop coatings. They were involved with the experimental side of things to figure out what chemicals went into the coatings. Six Sigma analysis to determine what amounts of different constituent components produced desired results. Identifying technologies to scale up from prototype to full mass production of discrete parts coated with these coatings. Scoping, specifying, purchasing, installing, running, and maintaining such equipment. Intellectual Property efforts to generate patents for all of this. One ChemE went over to the Dark Side and became Safety & Health Manager.

    Like my chosen field of MechE, I suspect that ChemE can be as broad a field as your imagination allows it to be.
  9. Nov 9, 2013 #8
    Well I'm really interested in biochemistry and chemistry but I don't want to just gain knowledge for the sake of knowledge I want to apply it in technology and chemicals so is chemical engineering good for this?
  10. Nov 9, 2013 #9

    Simon Bridge

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    There will always be opportunities to apply any knowledge you gain - even the stuff you thught of as "just for interest" at the time you learned it - whether or not you apply the knowledge is up to you. Pure science will simply lead towards different sorts of applications than applied science and engineering.
    I know pure scientists who work in applied fields.

    I knew a guy who ended up using his academically acquired knowledge of how asteroids tumble to troubleshoot a production-line that made donuts. He said it also used knowledge of resonance and interference of waves to handle the way different cyclical processes worked together (or not: in this case).

    Off what you've written so far:
    You'd want to steer your study in the direction of bio-chemistry and bio-technology ... opportunities to do that will depend on the school. Note: engineering schools tend to distinguish between engineering and engineering-technology these days - so you may want to decide where your emphasis lies.

    If you do that in the context of engineering - it will lead you more towards industry.
    Do it in the context of science and it will lead more towards research.
    Both paths are very broad.
    Neither path is exclusive.

    You sound like you are just starting out in College - at this stage, I usually advise students to follow their passions. A lot is going to change in the next 3-4years.
  11. Nov 9, 2013 #10
    I'm actually only a junior in high school. And what's the difference between engineering and engineering technology? And I thought of that but I like all forms of chemistry so I feel that, even though biochemistry and organic chemistry seem the most interesting to me I would be limiting myself.
  12. Nov 9, 2013 #11

    Simon Bridge

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    In that case you are thinking way too far ahead - unless you are attending a very special High School, there is nothing you'll see before your senior year that will limit you your college choices. Concentrate on your gpa.
  13. Nov 10, 2013 #12
    Alrighty then. THANKS!
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