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Engineering Pure science degree Vs Engineering (or both)

  1. Oct 1, 2010 #1
    Hi all,
    I have loved science since primary school and want to pursue it as a career, but as I also love building things I was thinking engineering. The good salary also pushes me towards engineering. So I thought I had decided on chemical engineering, but I was afraid that the course would focus too intensively on industrial manufacturing process rather than pure chemistry, so I thought a double degree with science (which I hear is crazy difficult). But now I'm not sure that the engineering in chem eng is of interest to me...
    SO, is a double degree of chemical engineering with a double degree of chemistry extremely hard?
    Is it a fulfilling career? Is it challenging (do you feel like you are creating something)?
    My interests are in nano tech, astronomy, (just science in general), robotics and I do have a passion for waste management( sounds weird but I like to create biodigesters)
    I hope I am not too vague! Any guidance would be greatly appreciated!
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 1, 2010 #2


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    Ok, I'm not a chemical engineer, but some general thoughts:

    - Salary is not how you should decide what you want to do.
    - It will depend on the program(s) as far as how difficult, time consuming, or possible it is to major in chemical engineering and chemistry.
    - If you are interested in nano tech, astronomy, and robotics, only nano tech will have any direct relevance to chemical engineering.
  4. Oct 1, 2010 #3
    How challenging it will be to double major in ChemE and Chemistry will depend largely upon the overlap in the degree programs at the university you attend. This is something you should be able to determine via the website. You can determine the number of courses you need to take, and then you should think about the time it will take to complete this course at the kind of course load you can successfully maintain.

    I'll give you an example from a university in the state where I live. I don't know where you live, so some details may be different for you if you live outside the US, but the general idea should apply.

    Here are the http://catalog.asu.edu/files/majormap09/LACHMBS.pdf" [Broken].
    Here are the http://catalog.asu.edu/files/majormap10/ESCHEBSE.pdf" [Broken].

    The basic courses are similar, but not identical. At some universities they may be identical. You will need to do Physics I and II, Calculus I, II, and III, Chemistry I and II, and O-chem I and II, along with various and sundry courses in composition and humanities. At this point the degree plans begin to diverge. The engineer will focus on applied topics like fluid transport and chemical reactor design, while the chemistry student will study physical chemistry and analytical chemistry.

    There are probably about 10-12 upper division courses that are different between the two programs, giving you an extra 30-35 credit hours to be completed. If you are exceptionally talented and hard-working, and are capable of taking more than 15 credit hours a semester, this would perhaps result in 4.5-5 years. If you are perhaps less dedicated or less academically able, then maybe 12-15 credit hours is realistically possible, then you may take 7 years to complete such a course of study.

    For your second question, I have observed a number of people with fulfilling careers in Chemical Engineering, despite not being one myself. However, this does not really answer your question, which I interpret to mean "would I find ChemE a fulfilling career?" I have no idea whether you would like it. At best I can describe the things I have seen ChemEs doing, and you can think about whether you might be interested in those things.

    A Chemical Engineer I work with spent 10 years working in sugar mills before he transitioned into the medical device industry. Typical tasks included maximizing the rate of a reaction or redesigning the piping in a reactor to reduce its overall length. I wouldn't call this glamorous work, but it has very tangible rewards in being able to see your work progress and come to fruition. This sort of thing is pretty common for ChemEs, but they do other things as well.

    Where I work, a ChemE with an interest in cutting edge work could be a specialist in new kinds of fluoroploymers, or investigate new and interesting ways to bond things together. If this is the kind of thing you are interested in, Chem E could be a path to take you there.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  5. Oct 2, 2010 #4
    Well I don't particularly want to study for years and come out earning next to nothing!... but I do understand what you mean.
    Well the chemistry and chemical eng course barely overlap except for a few courses...
    I am interested in doing research, but this may change in the future (so chem eng covers me there). I'm just not sure chemical engineering will satisfy my interests in creating like mechatronics would.
    I think I will apply for chemical engineering, but hopefully I can get into UNSW with a flexible first year to get a taste of chemical vs mechatronics and perhaps a double degree with science.
    Thanks for the help!
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