career repository

CHEMICAL ENGINEERING - A Versatile Branch of Engineering

By , on Sept. 1, 2017

An Overview

Are you interested in conducting research? Are you spoilt for choice between Chemistry, Physics and Biology? If you have set sights on engineering as a career option, and want to actively participate in converting raw material into useful products, chemical engineering is the right branch for you.

Chemical engineering allows you to develop products, design, install and supervise machinery/equipment and also be part of biochemical research. Chemical engineering also allows you to straddle a middle path between different disciplines such as biomedical engineering,environmental engineering and even nanotechnology.

In addition to the commonly understood requirement of chemical engineers in the manufacturing industry and water treatment plants, a few other fields that require chemical engineers are:

# Predicting climate change and developing strategies to combat it

# Discovering alternative energy sources

# Oil and gas production

# Stem cell research and tissue engineering

# Pollution and waste management

The profession of chemical engineering is an interdisciplinary field, where one can choose to specialize in an area of interest. Some of the subjects covered under chemical engineering courses are:

# Electrochemical engineering

# Food technology

# Drugs and Pharmaceutical technology


# Thermodynamics

# Plastics/Polymer engineering

# Biomolecular engineering

# Fluid dynamics

2. Education Track

Chemical engineering can be pursued at undergraduate as well as post graduate level.

2.1 Undergraduate Entry Point

2.1.1 Eligibility Criteria

Candidates must have passed 10+2 with a relatively good percentage in aggregate with Physics, Chemistry, and Mathematics as core subjects. Candidates must also clear entrance examinations conducted at the national or state levels and may also be required to clear independent entrance tests held by different universities. The aggregate of marks scored in the Class XII Board examination and marks scored in the entrance examination are considered for admission to the course.

2.1.2 Advantages:

A Bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering allows you to choose other related branches of engineering while pursuing a Masters’ degree, as this is one of the most versatile branches of engineering.

There are many career options for students of chemical engineering, in both private and government sectors.

2.1.3 Challenges:

The campus selection rate may not be as high as those of other engineering branches.

2.2 Short term courses:

If one does not prefer to do a post graduate course after completing a Bachelor’s degree in Chemical engineering there are short specialization courses such as:

a) Certification in Safety Engineering

b) Certification in Piping Engineering

c) QA and QC engineering training

d) Programs in Plant Automation, SCADA and PLC training

2.3 Post Graduate Entry Point

2.3.1 Eligibility Criteria

Only candidates with a Bachelor's degree in Chemical engineering are eligible for post graduate programs. In addition to the percentage scored at the B.E. or B. Tech. examinations, most institutes consider the score of GATE examinations and some universities even conduct separate entrance examinations.

Other than a Masters’ degree in the same subject, chemical engineers can also opt for MBA. Within the MBA program, students can specialize in Petroleum and Energy Management, Oil and Gas Management or in Carbon Management.

2.3.1. Benefits of Post Graduate Entry

- Since institutes offer the option of part-time education, students can work while pursuing a Masters’ degree in Chemical Engineering.

- An MBA opens up more avenues of employment that are exciting and financially rewarding.

2.3.2 Challenges of Post Graduate Entry

- A student from other engineering branches (For example, aerospace engineering) may find it tough initially and may need to put in extra effort.

- Lateral entry is not possible.

3. Specialization or Branches Students opting for Chemical engineering at the undergraduate level can choose to specialize in areas according to their own choice, since there is a vast range of options available.

3.1 Process industry: The process industry is incomplete without chemical engineers since they are responsible for developing industrial processes and designing new process plants and equipment or modifying existing ones. Their responsibilities include testing new processes, overseeing the construction of new plants, purchasing and installing equipment, supervising plant operations, ensuring that equipment works to its specification and assessing safety and environmental issues.

3.2 Water management: Chemical engineers play an important role in desalination and purification of water to make it potable. They also ensure less wastage of water and find ways to reduce amount of water used in irrigation.

3.3 Pharmaceutical industry: Since chemical engineering is a multi-disciplinary area of study, chemical engineers serve the thriving pharmaceutical industry in various capacities. The expertise of chemical engineers in rate and equilibrium processes, computational techniques examining heat and mass transport, reaction rate analysis, mixing/fluid dynamics, separation processes, scale-up phenomena, safety analysis, mathematical modeling and reactor/equipment design are utilized in improving quality of production.

4. Career Path

o Employment within the industrial firms, both in the private and government sectors – Chemical engineering being the backbone of every industry, there are jobs available in government undertakings such as ONGC, BPCL, DRDO, Indian Oil Corporation, state-owned fertilizer manufacturing units and so on. Similarly, the same opportunities are available in private companies that are involved in manufacturing fertilizers, cement etc., pharmaceutical companies, companies in the petrochemical area, refineries and so on.

o Consultancy - A career as a consultant is an attractive option which can be pursued after post-graduation.

o Career in academics – A teaching job is also a rewarding career option. Research in the field is yet another lucrative career prospect.

o Career in Public Service: The Indian government also employs chemical engineers through the Indian Forest Service(IFS)examinations conducted by the UPSC.

o Career as scientists: Other than corporate/academic research, one can also choose to work at prestigious space research organisations such as ISRO or LPSC, where chemical engineers are recruited as scientists.