It’s funny how my definition of what chemical engineering has changed throughout my years here. Not drastically, of course, but I keep expanding my definition of where a degree in chemical engineering can take me. I keep finding out that I have opportunities in things like consulting and business, which I never really considered before! It’s exciting to find more opportunities post-graduation, rather than less.
When I first began studying ChemE, I didn’t exactly know what it was that chemical engineers did. In my intro class, our textbook had a complex refinery on the cover with all sorts of pipes and furnaces, so I assumed that I would be donning a hard hat and working in a factory. I actually had the opportunity to do that for six months when I did my co-op, and it was certainly a great experience. I really got my hands dirty… researching, designing and building extraction column and membrane separators while wearing my steel-toed shoes. So there was the typical chemical engineering experience.
But then, I always had an interest in pharmaceuticals and biochemistry, and I sought out experience in that field. After a summer at a biotechnology company and a summer of biochemical engineering research, I felt like my heart was in getting a PhD, and continuing on with academic research. I enjoy the lab setting, and I enjoy designing experiments with the constraints of the human body. Okay, so there is an application of chemical engineering outside of the curriculum.
And now, I’m going into tech consulting. Where does that fit in? Well, I am not actually sure yet. Given that I have many friends who have started in engineering and now work at consulting firms, we must be pretty good at it. Hopefully, I can use my problem solving skills in advisory and make a difference in how companies are operating. It will certainly be a fun summer of learning!
The main point is that: chemical engineering means… lots of opportunities!