1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Thinking about switching from M.E. to Ch.E.

  1. Jan 11, 2012 #1
    I've been working on my 2 year transfer degree at the local community college in order to head to a 4 year for mechanical engineering. After a few chem classes (which are req'd for ME anyway), I find it really fascinating and kind of fun.

    I've started toying with the idea of switching to a pre-chem transfer degree, which would basically be the same except I'd take more chem classes instead of more math above Calc 4. ME has been my goal ever since I decided to go back to school, but chem engineering just sounds more interesting.

    I would just go ahead and switch, but everyone I talk to, including professors, say chemical engineering is the "hardest major ever". It looks like a lot of sources online agree, too. Is it really that hard? I mean ME isn't exactly a cake-walk. I also notice that ChE get paid a bit more than ME's. Thoughts?

    PS. I don't have to decide until next year, I'm just bouncing around ideas. And FWIW, I'm not the smartest guy ever, but I work hard enough to maintain a healthy GPA.

    Thanks for any advice!
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 12, 2012 #2
    No engineering degree is easy. But being at a school that is heavily devoted to engineering and the sciences, most kids on campus would place ChemE in the top 3 hardest degrees.

    Granted being a ChemE myself, you can get through it. There are weed-out classes just like every other major that you just need to get through. If you have a strong work ethic it will make the classes much easier (albeit not much).

    What type of advice are you seeking?
  4. Jan 12, 2012 #3
    Thanks for your response! I guess I am looking for experience or thoughts rather than advice.

    What actually makes it so difficult (aside from just being a challenging major)? Memorizing? Work load? Comcepts? A combination of things?

    I have a strong work ethic, but I've heard nightmare stories about bright students bailing out of their Chem E degrees. I dom't think I could drop any major, but if I'm setting myself up to fail, I won't take that route.
  5. Jan 12, 2012 #4
    Well, I'm a Junior ChemE. I've survived most of my school's flunk out classes. The hardest class for me (so far) was ChemE thermo (pre-req of Intro Thermo, so a 2nd semester of thermo). It probably was more of the structure of the class that made the class impossible, rather than the material itself. All the classes I've had are based on fundamental concepts. For example, in Mass and Energy balances you solve for mass/flow rates in piping problems. You take that knowledge into fluid mechanics and given a certain type of pump find pressure drops and flow rates anywhere in that piping problem. In thermo and as I'm finding out now in Mass/Heat transfer (and likely later on in Kinetics), there is more to a chemical process (reaction) than just finding flowrates. In the real world you need to know how long a process is going to take, how much heat needs to be added/removed, the size of the reaction vessel required, etc. You learn theory behind this stuff too, but I'm trying to give you an overall feel for the curriculum (which is harder than one would think).

    You're going to get Mass Energy Balances, Fluid Mechanics, Thermo, Mass/Heat Transfer, Transport, Kinetics and Unit Ops. In my case we have a Unit Ops lab taken over the summer for six weeks.....that'll be this summer for me

    There are a couple ChemEs that I've run across. I know Highway has graduated and would probably be able to offer you more insight about careers. Along with other people on PF, they probably would be able to correct any of my mistakes in the statements above.

    You may be wondering "Is Chemical Engineering" Chemistry-oriented? To answer that the best. Many people (on the most basic level) say that ChemEs take what Chemists discover and find a way to make 500 gallons of it. Or in the petroleum sector, take a gallon of crude and make as efficient use of it as possible.

    Hope this helps some. Don't be afraid to ask any questions. I'll try and answer them...
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook