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Topic: Chemistry vs. Chemical Engineering?  (Read 54687 times)

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Offline Corribus

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Re: Chemistry vs. Chemical Engineering?
« Reply #45 on: March 25, 2014, 09:23:25 AM »
the academics in charge of the design of chemistry courses know sod all about the real world their students are going to end up working in.
I'll certainly raise a glass to that!
What men are poets who can speak of Jupiter if he were like a man, but if he is an immense spinning sphere of methane and ammonia must be silent?  - Richard P. Feynman

Offline curiouscat

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Re: Chemistry vs. Chemical Engineering?
« Reply #46 on: March 25, 2014, 09:26:12 AM »
I feel the internal college-to-college variation is strong enough to swamp out any national trends. One thing the German engineers have going for them is the longer course duration (~5 years) in the older Diplom model.

One lingering problem with the top American Chem. Eng. Departments is that they have too little of an industrial focus any more. They are more geared to producing  grad. school researchers than plant engineers.

Sadly the pedigree of faculty has much to do with this. Most are career researchers. Very few have actually worked in a real plant environment.

Offline curiouscat

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Re: Chemistry vs. Chemical Engineering?
« Reply #47 on: March 25, 2014, 09:28:10 AM »
the academics in charge of the design of chemistry courses know sod all about the real world their students are going to end up working in.
I'll certainly raise a glass to that!

@Corribus:

Aren't you faculty too? What's the opinion on the other side? What's your idea on what needs to change & how?

Just curious.

Offline Corribus

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Re: Chemistry vs. Chemical Engineering?
« Reply #48 on: March 25, 2014, 10:31:20 AM »
No, I left academia a few years ago after post-doc. I now work in a gov't lab.

But that doesn't keep me from having an opinion. :)

I think curricula are by and large created by people who have a singular focus on academic research. For that matter, there's no career development offered either. Pretty much all graduate students are educated and then pushed towards careers in academia, because that's all the university people know. If you express an interest in a non-academic job, you're just left by the side of the road.  Why do you think, for instance, that few of the top tier chemistry programs in the US offer courses in analytical chemistry, statistics, and so on? Because these have very little place in basic academic research, that's why.

What men are poets who can speak of Jupiter if he were like a man, but if he is an immense spinning sphere of methane and ammonia must be silent?  - Richard P. Feynman

Offline DrCMS

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Re: Chemistry vs. Chemical Engineering?
« Reply #49 on: March 25, 2014, 01:03:38 PM »
I think curricula are by and large created by people who have a singular focus on academic research. For that matter, there's no career development offered either. Pretty much all graduate students are educated and then pushed towards careers in academia, because that's all the university people know. If you express an interest in a non-academic job, you're just left by the side of the road.  Why do you think, for instance, that few of the top tier chemistry programs in the US offer courses in analytical chemistry, statistics, and so on? Because these have very little place in basic academic research, that's why.

Much more elegantly put than my earlier post and I agree entirely.   I knew I wanted to work in industry rather than academia which is why I choose a sandwich course (I picked a thin sandwich course deliberately to get more varied experience) and choose a course that had a more applied focus rather than just straight academic chemistry.  Even with all that I do not think my university course trained me enough for working in industry and it should have done.

I feel the internal college-to-college variation is strong enough to swamp out any national trends. One thing the German engineers have going for them is the longer course duration (~5 years) in the older Diplom model.

While it is true that the 2 particular Germans I'm talking about both have PhD's in chemical engineering ALL the UK chemical engineers I've ever had professional dealing with have been arrogant fools.  They must have been trained by multiple different institutions but I would not trust any of them to find their arse with either hand.

One lingering problem with the top American Chem. Eng. Departments is that they have too little of an industrial focus any more. They are more geared to producing  grad. school researchers than plant engineers.

Sadly the pedigree of faculty has much to do with this. Most are career researchers. Very few have actually worked in a real plant environment.

Same problem as the chemistry departments then.

Offline Corribus

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Re: Chemistry vs. Chemical Engineering?
« Reply #50 on: March 26, 2014, 11:50:56 PM »
I guess professors you can kind of understand. They don't know better, although they are supposed to be mentors so they're not completely blameless.

What I don't get is why accrediting bodies like the ACS don't insist on better career guidance and more expansive, less fundamental-research-oriented curricula as criteria for program accreditation.  Sure, ACS is run in large part by academia, but it's also fundamentally an industry trade society with a lot of representation by industry and government groups.  ACS does a grave disservice to aspiring chemists by letting university professors have sole authority over what goes into a modern chemistry curriculum. What else is the point of having an accrediting body otherwise?  Most of ACS leadership is academic. With such a heavy industry presence, you'd think that'd be different, but I guess industry just doesn't care... or isn't prescient enough to see what a problem the whole thing is.

I mean, why the hell isn't analytical chemistry part of the ACS standard undergraduate chemistry curriculum? If not a requirement, at least insist it be offered. Without this basic knowledge you are automatically excluded for a huge portion of govt and industry jobs. It just makes no sense to me at all.
What men are poets who can speak of Jupiter if he were like a man, but if he is an immense spinning sphere of methane and ammonia must be silent?  - Richard P. Feynman

Offline curiouscat

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Re: Chemistry vs. Chemical Engineering?
« Reply #51 on: March 27, 2014, 01:36:15 AM »
Sometimes I almost wonder if the time has come to split the undergrad curriculum into two tracks: an academic versus an industrial. Perhaps at junior year.

There's a disjoint set of skills that industry values versus grad school & perhaps there just isn't time to cram both in a regular course.

Offline Corribus

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Re: Chemistry vs. Chemical Engineering?
« Reply #52 on: March 27, 2014, 09:55:58 AM »
Sure that'd be great but you'd have to change the way university funding works.  You need professors who can teach that stuff, after all, and the university only hires professors who can bring in their own money, and money is only awarded for basic research. Which gets back to the real fundamental problem of academia: tenure.  Honestly, the whole system is so screwed up at the foundation that it's almost hard to devise a plan to fix it.
What men are poets who can speak of Jupiter if he were like a man, but if he is an immense spinning sphere of methane and ammonia must be silent?  - Richard P. Feynman

Offline curiouscat

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Re: Chemistry vs. Chemical Engineering?
« Reply #53 on: March 27, 2014, 10:57:03 AM »
Sure that'd be great but you'd have to change the way university funding works.  You need professors who can teach that stuff, after all, and the university only hires professors who can bring in their own money, and money is only awarded for basic research.

To some extent yes, but I disagree. Many of the Profs. are smart people. Many of the skills needed for an industrial track aren't rocket science.

The same faculty could offer courses a lot more industrially relevant. e.g. current Chem. Eng. curriculum in US has very little focus on stuff like P&ID's or equipment design / selection or HAZOPs Isometrics etc. With a bit of motivation that can be remedied.

Offline Corribus

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Re: Chemistry vs. Chemical Engineering?
« Reply #54 on: March 27, 2014, 11:30:35 AM »
I don't know where you went to school, but where I went I wouldn't have much confidence in any of the professors teaching quantitative chemical analysis, at least not without a lot of effort and time. As you said, there has to be motivation. What is the motivation under the current tenure system for something like this? It's hard enough to get a lot of professors to teach a subject they know. And in any case, it's all beside the difficulty of getting it put in the curriculum in the first place.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2014, 12:16:32 PM by Corribus »
What men are poets who can speak of Jupiter if he were like a man, but if he is an immense spinning sphere of methane and ammonia must be silent?  - Richard P. Feynman

Offline curiouscat

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Re: Chemistry vs. Chemical Engineering?
« Reply #55 on: March 27, 2014, 12:08:18 PM »
I don't know where you went to school, but where I went I wouldn't have much confidence in any of the professors teaching quantitative chemical analysis, at least not without a lot of effort and time. As you said, there has to be motivation. What is the motivation under the current tenure system for something like this? It's hard enough to get a lot of professors to teach a subject they know. And in any case, it's all beside the difficulty of getting it put in the curriculem in the first place.

Agree with the motivation critique. OTOH, the average undergrad comes out so clueless in these un-taught areas, that even a marginal effort could improve the situation a lot.


Offline eazye1334

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Re: Chemistry vs. Chemical Engineering?
« Reply #56 on: March 27, 2014, 02:54:51 PM »
I don't know where you went to school, but where I went I wouldn't have much confidence in any of the professors teaching quantitative chemical analysis, at least not without a lot of effort and time. As you said, there has to be motivation. What is the motivation under the current tenure system for something like this? It's hard enough to get a lot of professors to teach a subject they know. And in any case, it's all beside the difficulty of getting it put in the curriculem in the first place.

OTOH, the average undergrad comes out so clueless in these un-taught areas, that even a marginal effort could improve the situation a lot.
Agreed. We didn't have any interaction with programs like ASPEN which are so commonly used in industry. I got a lot of funny looks during interview when I said I had never used the program before.

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Re: Chemistry vs. Chemical Engineering?
« Reply #57 on: April 18, 2014, 11:29:26 AM »
Chemists do things generally on a bench scale, working up some reaction to the 1 gram of reactant range could be a big deal. Or, they spend alot of time in front of an instrument running analytical tests for things after doing several hours or a few days of prep to get everything ready for the instrument.

A Chemical engineer is going to be concerned about things on an industrial scale. Ramping up drug production, running a paper mill, things like that.

Engineers in general will manage projects. As a BS or even MS Chemist, you will be the one being managed unless you are the rare consultant or sales person who is given more freedom.

Engineers will have a better understanding of math and thermodynamics. Chemists will know more about the actual guts of chemistry: inorganic, organic, analytical and physical.

You can be creative in either discipline. My advice is don't be a chemistry major unless you plan on getting a PhD or going on to a professional school. Having an ABET accreditted engineering degree opens alot of doors that a straight chemistry degree won't. Where I work, chemists make minimum 20K less per year than the engineers and get treated like the hired help.



Offline kingofxbox99

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Re: Chemistry vs. Chemical Engineering?
« Reply #58 on: May 19, 2014, 03:43:22 AM »
I'm off to university next year for engineering, and I've been stuck between mechanical and chemical. I don't think mechanical is right (I'm horrible when it comes to cars and stuff), but chemical engineering really excites and intrigues me. I love math/chemistry and I think I would prefer the real-world applications and implementations of chemistry more than understanding the processes behind the chemistry.

I have a few questions:

Do chemical engineers spend lots of time at a desk/computer?
Do chemical engineers visit plants often and get to see the projects they've worked on get built?
Do chemical engineers inspect plants or other projects they may or may not have been involved in?
Do chemical engineers spend any time in the lab researching or testing new things?
Do chemical engineers have the opportunity to be involved in a project the entire way through, or are they primarily used for certain portions of the design process.

I really like the whole plant design aspect of chemical engineering. I think I'd like to either work in the consumer goods sector or the oil/gas & energy sector. (I live in Alberta, Canada and the oil industry is incredible here).

Thanks! :)

Offline curiouscat

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Re: Chemistry vs. Chemical Engineering?
« Reply #59 on: May 19, 2014, 03:59:26 AM »
chemical engineering really excites and intrigues me. I love math/chemistry and I think I would prefer the real-world applications and implementations of chemistry more than understanding the processes behind the chemistry.


That in itself sounds a perfect match for Chem. Eng. :)

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Do chemical engineers spend lots of time at a desk/computer?

Varies, but yes often. e.g. A design engineer will almost do entirely calculations. Commissioning / erection / troubleshooting gets more plant time. An R&D engineer will get lots of lab  time. A Vendor engineer will often be travelling to customer sites.

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Do chemical engineers visit plants often and get to see the projects they've worked on get built?

Again, it depends but you can always choose a job that let's you do this.

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Do chemical engineers inspect plants or other projects they may or may not have been involved in?

Sometimes.

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Do chemical engineers spend any time in the lab researching or testing new things?

If you get into R&D.

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Do chemical engineers have the opportunity to be involved in a project the entire way through, or are they primarily used for certain portions of the design process.

Certain portions unless you are a team leader / manager etc. Usually initially the Chemists involvement is high then passes on to a Chem. Eng. & finally to mech / structural / control engineers etc.

Quite vague / broad questions & there's no good general answer.

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I really like the whole plant design aspect of chemical engineering. I think I'd like to either work in the consumer goods sector or the oil/gas & energy sector. (I live in Alberta, Canada and the oil industry is incredible here).

Alberta is one of the best places to be a Che. currently.

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