Hi everyone! This week, we are blogging about our majors, so hopefully you will get a bunch of cool perspectives on some majors you may have been considering. I checked out my blog from last year on the same subject, and it was interesting to see how my career goals have changed even though my major has stayed the same. To me, one of the greatest things about chemical engineering is how versatile it is (and that goes for other engineering majors as well)! But spending six months working in a chemical engineering factory certainly changed how I view ChemE, especially because the experience was so aligned with my major.
Last year, I defined chemical engineering as “taking some material that is cheap or abundant, and turning it into something expensive and useful”. At my biotech internship, we turned chemicals into safe drugs. And at my co-op, we turned chemicals into Plexiglas. That’s also what makes chemical engineering so useful: it can be applied to almost any field (it’s also a bit overwhelming, as Lyssa mentioned, because there are so many types of job opportunities). Even though my two internships were very different experiences, they were both relevant to chemical engineering.
In Germany, where I had my co-op, many engineering students have a required internship (called Praktikum) in order to graduate. Though we do not require that at USC, many of our students do get really cool internships every summer in a variety of fields. But doing one of these Praktikums was a little different from my earlier internship experience. Because I was at Evonik Industries, which is a specialty chemicals company, my Praktikum was especially for chemical engineering students, and was very relevant to my classes at USC. It was a unique experience to build and work with the stuff I had read about in my textbooks, from reactors to distillation columns to membranes. I had to see how much I paid attention in Thermodynamics and Seperations!
Like I said, it is cool to see how I was interested in biotechnology last year, and now I am more interested in polymers, though I can still keep my major. We’ll see what next year brings!