Everyone decided to take some time this week to describe their majors in their own words. I struggled with this topic for a while, since Chemical Engineering is such a broad field, and there’s so much that you can do with a Chemical Engineering degree.
To start, I just want to explain that Chemical Engineering is a lot different from being a chemistry major. When I came into USC, I thought I would be doing a lot of the same stuff I was doing in my AP chemistry class in high school, with a bit of physics thrown in too. And while I do take chemistry classes—general, analytical, organic, physical, and advanced inorganic chemistry—those classes are more to give you the background in chemistry needed for the chemical engineering classes rather than teach you how to be a chemical engineer.
What I’ve come to learn is that Chemical Engineers are experts at optimization. Everything we do is designed to develop the most efficient system to produce the most of a specific product. This is done through taking classes such as thermodynamics, separation processes, mass transfer, viscous flow, and chemical reactors. What’s great about this is that optimization experts are needed in virtually every field of work!
Chemical Engineers can go into so many different fields—petroleum, medicines, aerospace development, even becoming an engineering consultant for one of the big four accounting firms! This fact was highlighted this week at the career fair where the companies looking to hire chemical engineers included—The CIA, Schlumberger, PepsiCo, Intel, Medtronic, and PWG just to name a few. It’s reassuring to know that I’m in a field that can take me in so many different directions. If I start off in the medical field, and I decide that I no longer want to do medicines, I’m confident that I’ll be able to find a job in a different field that excites me and challenges me!