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Offline M:B

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Chemical Engineer: The Profession
« on: July 25, 2007, 01:34:34 PM »
I am currently completing my final year of high school and next year I will start studying Chemical Engineering at the University of Pretoria (South Africa).

Please can I have information on the following:

 1) What is it like to be a chemical engineer?
 2) How is the course ?
 3) What are the prospects for chemical engineers?

Thanks

Offline profmsg

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Re: Chemical Engineer: The Profession
« Reply #1 on: July 25, 2007, 04:07:40 PM »
jobwise, it basically involves the operation of chemical plants in manufacturing .

scope for chemical engineer  is very high and paid very well in comparision to QC and MT analyst.

Offline Montemayor

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Re: Chemical Engineer: The Profession
« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2007, 12:24:38 PM »

Michael:

You are very wise and practical in seeking out basic information at this critical stage in your life and your life-profession training.  Your questions are general and nonspecific but don't surprise me since I've heard them recited many, many times every where I've been in the last 47 years.  You will develop more specific and key questions as you progress in your university studies.  Even upon obtaining your graduate degree as a Chemical Engineer, you will still be in the dark as to all the specific answers.  So, I'm furnishing you with some generalized answers to your questions, but trusting that you will accept the challenge and join us in the quest for further challenges in resolving problems for society:

1) What is it like to be a chemical engineer?
It has always been great to be a Chemical Engineer.  Recognition, acceptance, compensation, respect, and the chances to help others improve their lives and their investments has been just some of the rewards heaped on me.  Being able to resolve problems that normally overcome others is an accomplishment that is very rewarding.

2) How is the course?
Tough, taxing, demanding, and very competitive.  Sometimes the end of the tunnel was not in sight.  But the satisfaction of completing what others could not even attempt and the knowledge that I did it with nothing more than my God-given brain and my family's work ethic was more than a just reward; it was the opening of a doorway that revealed my capabilities in meeting very exacting and demanding conditions of employment and becoming a part of a meaningful organization.  The knowledge that one can overcome one of the most difficult curriculums in university is a satisfaction and a boost in ones self-esteem such that it gives you a jump-start on what progressively are harder and harder problems in a professional career.  The ability to confront, understand, and dominate those problems is a lasting reward in itself.  Being counted as a member of an elite class of problem-solvers such as Chemical Engineers is a prestige that is worthwhile and satisfying and fully compensates for the tough and demanding academic tests and trials.

3) What are the prospects for chemical engineers?
Right now, it couldn't get any better!  Chemical Engineers are making more economic gains in their salaries than any other engineering profession.  And it doesn't seem that it will change in the future.  The reasons are many.  I think I gave the best one in the question (2), above.  The toughness and the diversification of the Chemical Engineering curriculum has made for very exceptional and versatile engineering graduates.  Industry has not been blind in noting the obvious.  That explains the exceptionally high starting salaries offered to ChEs.  More important than salaries, in my opinion, are the varied and diversified job opportunities and careers offered to ChEs.  One can go on to a Master's Degree or an MBA as well as proceed on to Sales, applications, Design, Operations, Development, and many other applications within the profession.  Energy, Food, Pharmaceuticals, Sales, Government, management, Construction, etc. are just some of the areas where the ChE is in demand.  And I haven't even mentioned foreign assignments – if you care to travel.

Right in your own country, you have what is probably one of the best examples of a topflight, experienced, and successful Chemical Engineer – a person who has the proven and recognized brains and experience to compete on a worldwide basis: Mr. Harvey Wilson.  If I were you, I would make every effort to get to know him and get his firsthand recommendations and opinions on your aspirations to join us in the profession.  You can start by going to his website:

http://www.katmarsoftware.com/index.html

As an example of what ChEs do and what they use to resolve problems, download his free units conversion program, Uconeer.  This is a marvelous example of how ChEs solve other people's problems.  I personally know that I am not the only experienced engineer who depends on Harvey's Uconeer for daily work and calculations help on my problems and projects.  If you can succeed in obtaining Harvey's attention and words of wisdom, you will have answered practically all of your questions and queries of who we are and what we do – and whether you want to join us as a colleague or not.

Good Luck and work hard at your profession – whatever it may turn out to be.


Offline M:B

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Re: Chemical Engineer: The Profession
« Reply #3 on: July 28, 2007, 04:27:31 AM »
Thank you.
« Last Edit: August 22, 2007, 06:53:16 AM by M:B »

Offline Water Snake

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Re: Chemical Engineer: The Profession
« Reply #4 on: August 12, 2007, 11:32:27 AM »
I am currently completing my final year of high school and next year I will start studying Chemical Engineering at the University of Pretoria (South Africa).

Please can I have information on the following:

 1) What is it like to be a chemical engineer?
 2) How is the course ?
 3) What are the prospects for chemical engineers?

Thanks

-
1.)being a chemical engineering senior student,1st the course needs a devoted time of studies (believe me when you get your hands on that chemical reactions engineering and kinetics....)...will having exposed to my profession it was very great!

2.)the course is not as easy as walking in the park, it needs time and effort...

3.)besides having a well respected profession(and salary) chemical engineers are very flexible so you can either work from a call center industry to teacher to an engineer....

Offline Donaldson Tan

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Re: Chemical Engineer: The Profession
« Reply #5 on: August 16, 2007, 06:25:31 PM »
Even graduate chemical engineers are in strong demand for employment by commodity and energy trading firms, investment banks and asset management companies.

The core skill of logical assessment with strong quantitative rigour makes chemical engineers very good problem solvers. Moreover, the diversity and the scope width of chemical engineering problems encompass almost all fields of engineering and economic assesment, giving us chemical engineers that edge.
"Say you're in a [chemical] plant and there's a snake on the floor. What are you going to do? Call a consultant? Get a meeting together to talk about which color is the snake? Employees should do one thing: walk over there and you step on the friggin� snake." - Jean-Pierre Garnier, CEO of Glaxosmithkline, June 2006

Offline M:B

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Re: Chemical Engineer: The Profession
« Reply #6 on: August 17, 2007, 02:07:06 PM »
Ok thanks. What type of problems can one typically expect to solve as a chemical engineer?

Offline Montemayor

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Re: Chemical Engineer: The Profession
« Reply #7 on: September 01, 2007, 11:38:05 PM »


Michael:

Your question is open to a variety of responses - mostly because the profession of Chemical Engineering is so varied and diversified in its applications.

The best answer(s) I can give - and there are well in the hundreds that I personally can offer - are factual examples that appear in my resume of some 47 years of experience:

1.  You could be sent to a foreign location where you are expected to fill in the position of production manager of a variety of process plants, replacing the exisitng production manager who is being sent to other locations to start up and initiate production of new production plants.  You have only 6 months of experience out of college and every one of the production supervisors (& most of the operators) are well above you in age and hands-on experience.  You are expected to carry on the production operations as usual and keep everything -especially profit of the operating plants and the morale of the operators - in order until the original manager returns.

2. You could be sent to a foreign country where there are multiple operating plants in different cities - and the entire corporate operation is suffering from profit losses and 90 % of the plants are shut down due to operating and personnel problems.  You are told that you should make every effort to get all production plants up and running as soon as possible and report the reasons they were shut down.  You are also to evaluate the production situation and report back to corportate executives as to the feasiblity of getting the local operation back to a profitable situation and how long this will take as well as how much additional capital it will also take to achieve positive econonmic expectations.  If you find no hope for salvaging the operation, you are to report as such and define the reasons why and what your recommendations are in specific steps.  You opt for salvaging the operations by building up-to-date production facilites locally and under you design and with local fabrication in order to minimize the need for hard currency.  You organize the design, fabrication, startup, and operation of all new and modified facilities.

3. You are a project manager of LNG projects and you are called in at midnight to the corporate headquarters where you are told that one of the company's LNG carrier vessels has gone aground in a foreign country and little information is available.  You have previously been trained for a potential emergency and as a member of a special rescue team in the event such a situation would arise.  The moment for action has arrived and you are to expedite rescue operations on a local basis by using a corporate jet loaded with special team members and instructions to take field information and update corporate headquarters as soon as possible.  You arrive at the foreign location and confirm the gravity of the situation and take the pre-planned actions required to ensure security, secrecy, and efficiency in evaluating the existing damage and situation as to potential catastrophe.   You work in close liason with local authorities and legal counsel - as well as the local ambassadorial staff.  You secure the crew's safety and arrange for their quick and efficient passage off the vessel and arrange for execute meetings with local officials to expedite a decision as to what to do with the damaged vessel and secure the maximum safety for local inhabitants.  You play a key role in arranging for the safe and efficient off-loading of LNG to a secondary vessel and safeguard the security and safety of the operation.

4. As a project manager, you are assigned to evaluate a market study for an existing chemical product on a world-wide basis.  You are asked to develop a study and recommendations as to how to best increase world-wide production and where this production increase could best be located.  You are also to estimate the magnitude of the necessary capital monies required to increase world production and supply the expected world market demand.   You are asked to report to the company's Board with your recommendations and estimates and submit a Capital Investment Request once the report is found appealing.  Your submittal for Capital Investment is approved and you are assigned to be Project Manager for a European-based, grass roots plant in Belgium.  You take full responsibility for the capital expenditures and engineering design of the facitities - as well as the selection of the plant site and its acquisition.  You are told to minimize USA currency expenditures and for that purpose, you select for purchasing specialized USA equipment under license to fabricate it in Europe - including the engineering.  For that purpose, you have to organize the expediting of the project which entails you to travel between the USA and Europe every 10 days.  You obtain and contract for local European supply of construction, engineering, and equipment.  In order to carry out most business and engineering contracts you must communicate and negotiate in English, French, and some Flemish (with selective translators).   The project becomes a reality in less than 14 months.

The above, in my opinion, are just some of the possible type of scenarios that could be placed in front of a newly-graduated or young Chemical Engineer.  These, in my opinion, are very realistic because they form part of my actual resume.  I would expect the same experiences for other, younger engineers today.   I hope these give you a good idea of what conceivably could be the type of problems one typically could expect to solve as a chemical engineer.

I hope I have been successful in describing what can await you if (and when) you become a Chemical Engineer.


Offline M:B

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Re: Chemical Engineer: The Profession
« Reply #8 on: September 04, 2007, 05:32:33 AM »
That sounds fulfilling and more diverse than I initially thought. Thank you once again.

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