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Is Chemical Engineering right for me?

  1. May 18, 2017 #1
    Hello all,
    So I've finished my first year of classes. Since my school has a credit window for declaring engineering majors, I need to lock in my life-long career decision. I definitely want to stick with engineering, but I was curious if ChemE is the right one for me. From what I've read, the type of stuff chemical engineers deal with has appealed to me the most. Many-step processes working together to turn raw material into usable goods. But there is one problem, I didn't really like general chemistry 1 & 2...I didnt hate it, but certainly am not skipping/smiling to go to class. I earned a B+ and B- respectively. So my question Is (1): do you have to LOVE and fully comprehend every aspect of chemistry to be a good chemical engineer? I want to be good at what I do, and enjoy it at the same time. I have heard many people say that you don't need much chemistry, just the very basic ideas. (2) How true is this, and how much/what kind of general chemistry do you personally use as a chemical engineer? I have till the end of summer before I can no longer change my major, so it's a little bit scary.

  2. jcsd
  3. May 18, 2017 #2


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    I would definitely talk with 1 or 2 ChemE professors as well as your advisor, in addition to input you receive here. If you stay in Engineering, make sure that you get into the intern/CoOp program that your school offers. It will help with your career prospects, come graduation time.
  4. May 19, 2017 #3
    Not really, if you like mathematics and physics, then chemical engineering is a good option for you. It is not chemistry or you won't become a chemist. Chemical engineering is the art of applying math and physics on chemistry and chemical processes. You don't need to be super interested in chemistry if you'd ask me. It's 30% chemistry and 70% engineering-math I would say.
  5. May 19, 2017 #4
    Ok that's good to hear, thanks a lot for that feedback. What type of chemistry "problems" do you usually have to sit down and do? I particularly have always hated using ICE/ICF charts to find equilibrium constants or equilibrium concentrations, and found it rather annoying...and that was about 65% of what I did in chem 2 lol. I studied pretty hard in both chem 1 and 2, and I get all/if not most of the main ideas...I understand all the conceptual categories like Le Chateliers principle, chemical thermodynamics, electrochemistry...and for all the math based problems I can for the most part tell: "when you have X and Y, you can use Z method and find Q" ...

    I didn't mind majority of the stuff from chem1 other than orbitals and overlap stuff... From chem 2, (after the pain of learning it all) I pretty much liked everything other than specifically what I said above (which again was more than half the course), and basically I honesty don't have any understanding of what the differences are between all those types of titrations... strongacid-weakbase titration, weakcid-weakbase, etc..

    But again, just curious: What type of chemistry "problems" do you usually have to sit down and do? As in, what subcategories of chemistry do you deal with most commonly?
  6. May 19, 2017 #5
    None :D. We are expected to solve problems related to production processes of chemicals. Yes of course they are related to chemistry but as an engineer you will be expected to design a factory for example. And this will be about your mathematical skills not your chemistry. I suggest you to examine some classes like fluid mechanics, mathematical modelling, chemical engineering design, mass transfer, heat transfer, unit operations. You will see these classes are not really about chemistry but designing equipment and processes for the production of chemicals. Chemical engineering covers a wide area and it is one of the four basic engineering disciplines. You can expertise in chemistry if you want but not necessarily. I am a senior student so I have been designing a factory for ammonia production. Perhaps I can share some of the problems I encountered so far later on here so that you could see how it is like.
  7. May 19, 2017 #6
    Oh and don't forget mass and energy balances. Probably you will get it next semester. The real chemical engineering classes start at the 4th semester generally.
  8. May 19, 2017 #7
    Thank you so much, that's what I've been hoping to hear...I was in constant worry that I would be stuck doing chemistry problems everyday in the work place, in which case i would opt out. Yea what I truly like is physics and mathematics, and i have also found interest in basic thermodynamics and basic fluid mechanics that I have learned thus far...i love the analytical/creative thinking used to solve physics and even math problems...its just not anything like that with chemistry for me...i can't be creative with chemistry whatsoever for some reason lol...that's why chem 1 and 2 are some of my lowest grades so far...doesn't really interest me all that much.

    That would be awesome if you came back and shared some of your problems with this thread, I'm sure many people would benefit from that.

    Thank you for your help and have a great day!
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