Career in Chemical Engineering

Career in Chemical Engineering at IITD

With the growth in the industrial and manufacturing sector in the current economic development scenario, a career in Chemical Engineering is promising and rewarding. Chemical Engineering – an integral branch of engineering which deals with everything pertaining to your personal health care and daily usage products. And yet, it is one of the most misunderstood of all forms of engineering. It is high time to change the name of this particular discipline because it is clearly a misnomer. The first thing that comes to one’s mind when we hear the words ‘Chemical Engineering’ is a bunch of scientists in hazmat suits or white laboratory coats playing with test tubes and frothing chemicals. However, that is not the case. As a matter of fact, Chemical Engineering deals with chemistry lesser than you could imagine. In your career in chemical engineering, you get to study how matter behaves intrinsically and how it interacts with the external environment. I believe I went a little overboard with the technical terms. So, to put it in simpler terms, let me break it down for you. 

We deal with the following things: 

(a) matter – what it is made of and its resultant properties. We literally dig up the smallest cracks in the surface of a metal to enhance its properties. Basically, what makes Copper such a good conductor of electricity and yet, so malleable! Also, we peek inside an atom from a quantum-point-of-view. Feel like Einstein, already?

(b) Secondly, we study those big reactor structures you might have seen protruding from the factories into the sky (and spewing harmful gases into the atmosphere? Well, that is your next lecture on environmental studies and we are looking into that as well!). You get to know how to design them, which reactor designs suit which reactions and what all things control the rate of reaction in them. It does get a bit too much at times but the implications of a single variable change can be huge! Remember the Bhopal Gas Tragedy? You get to learn about the dynamics of process control which, believe me, are really cool. That said, a career in chemical engineering is really challenging.

(c) Thirdly, we study the flow of everything. Literally everything. Flow of energy in and out of systems. (Thermodynamics. Heat Pumps. Refrigerator. Ice Cream…) Flow of liquids or gases through, in or around objects. (Remember how the ball swung out of Pathan’s hands?) Flow of heat (Conduction, convection and radiation) or mass (chemicals or inerts) through various mediums. And then, finally; a cocktail of all of these. This is where things get really interesting. Sounds interesting? This gets even more interesting when we apply these things in practical applications. Whether it is to mimic blood flow within the human body by studying these in mini-tubular configurations or to test the appropriate fuel-air mixtures for your racing cars or to test new methods to diagnose some real world health issues! There is some really interesting and amazing research going on related to a career in Chemical Engineering around the world and which is capable of making some visible change in this world. One thing which I would like to point out is the relative lack of Mathematical studies in this particular branch as compared to other branches. You never study a single Mathematical aptitude course in your degree but the logic and analytical approach for various concepts makes up for that. All in all, Chemical Engineering makes use of physical sciences more than the inherent chemistry of material and matter! I hope this clears up what we mean by “Chemical Engineering”.

You can get more information on a career in chemical engineering here.

–Deevanshu Goyal