Chemical engineering is a culmination of products and processes. It includes changing raw materials into everyday and industrial products such as food, drink, and clothes. A chemical engineer’s job is to develop and design chemical processes to create a product.
It is either done by a novel process or by improving upon existing processes. The ethics of chemical engineering include managing precious resources, protecting the environment, and maintaining a standard of health and safety.
Imagine yourself in a white lab coat with different chemicals in front of you. If you’re comfortable with that thought, then chemical engineering might be an interesting prospect for you. However, unlike the name suggests chemical engineering is more than just chemistry. It places greater emphasis on application and practical skills.
Is Chemical Engineering Hard?
Chemical engineering is extremely hard. Chemical engineering is so difficult because you will need to study advanced mathematics, take on a huge workload, enroll in several challenging courses, and learn a wide range of topics.
To begin answering how hard it can be for you, answer the following question: Will you enjoy working with numbers, calculus, and long equations every day? If you answered yes, you might not be as disappointed as others.
It is a sure fact that a chemical engineering student will have to face a lot of mathematics each semester. Since the problems overlap chemistry, physics, math, and engineering principles; they are immensely intricate and perplexing.
You must spend a great deal of time practicing problems and learning how to apply your prior knowledge to unfamiliar contexts. Work ethic and dedication are things that will help you to master the material.
Exams are every student’s nemesis, and with a major like chemical engineering, you can be all prepared and ready to ace the exam only to see the exam paper and find out that there is still a lot that you do not know. The final year project is another hurdle that requires deep research and application of everything that you have learned.
Here is a list of courses that make chemical engineering an extremely hard major:
- Thermodynamics- There are two courses related to this. It has a lot of theoretical work and equations. Rigorous practice of problems and building concepts is required to pass this.
- Fluid Dynamics – this course has both math and physics and several mind-boggling concepts.
- Mass Transfer- this is the study of the processes involved in mass transfer and designing the equipment used.
- Math- three semesters of calculus and one of the differential equations gives a tough time to students.
After finishing your degree, you might not be able to get a job right away. For practicing you need a license from an engineering board, and for that, you need to pass the Principle and Practice of Engineering exam (PE) or an equivalent qualification. It basically tests the foundations of your engineering discipline. So, if you’re thinking that you are done with exams once college is over, you’re in for a surprise.
The data from different universities shows that Chemical Engineering has a mere 50% retention rate. Students mostly give up in the first two years of their degree program due to the challenging math and science courses. The key to success in chemical engineering is time management and a rigid study routine.
Is Chemical Engineering Stressful?
Chemical Engineering is quite stressful. In university chemical engineering is renowned for its high non-completion rate whereas in the workforce it is regarded as a challenging, anxiety-ridden, and stressful field.
The complexity of the material is the leading factor that makes chemical engineering stressful. Multiple formulas are needed to solve a single question. Solutions can last several pages.
Chemical Engineering is time demanding due to the immense workload and complexity of the courses. After an entire day of classes, one must revise the lecture and practice the problems discussed in the class. In addition, there is always a pile of homework waiting for you. The only way to conquer the subject is to start early, or else there are high chances that you will find yourself in a very stressful situation.
Compared to other degrees, chemical engineering majors have some of the most intense and packed weeks in college. Not only will you have long classes and lab sessions but several assignments and projects throughout the semester. The lack of recreational time will hinder you from unwinding and the stress tends to add up.
Yes, you can have a social life, but not as much as a business or mass communication student. There will be occasions where you will have extra classes or labs on weekends and must work on your homework while your friends from other majors go out and party.
Once you start working you can expect it to be like college in terms of stressful it will be. You will have to be innovative, work on tough problems, and have a packed schedule to survive in the chemical engineering field. Luckily, you will be paid more than most people for the stress you go through daily.
In conclusion, chemical engineering is stressful. You can mitigate the stress through consistent effort, perseverance, and determination. Your hard work will pay off!
Can I be a Chemical Engineer if I am bad at Math?
Math is the language of engineering. If you don’t know the language, there are chances that you will not survive for long as a chemical engineer. You cannot be a chemical engineer if you are bad at math. However, you do not need to be an expert in math to become a chemical engineer either.
If you’re choosing chemical engineering or any other type of engineering, you need to make yourself comfortable with algebra, calculus, and statistics. One does not need to be a math expert to do chemical engineering. However, you must have your previous concepts clear and should have a fundamental understanding.
The math courses required for chemical engineering are College Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry, Calculus I and II, Differential Equations, and Statistics.
Math is frequently used in the laboratory for chemical reactions, preparing different reactants, planning, and theoretical modeling. Even working with chemical formulas and equations involves many forms of mathematics, including calculus and differential equations.
Many of the mathematical concepts make the foundation of the core skills needed to become a chemical engineer, such as Heat Transfer, Thermodynamics, Fluid Mechanics, and Reaction Kinetics knowledge.
Chemical Engineering involves everything from basic to advanced mathematics. One can simply not get away from mathematics.
If you’re bad at math, you must give it your all. You must work hard and practice. It may cost you sleepless nights, but in the end, with some grit and perseverance, you will eventually become good at math.
Is Chemical Engineering Worth It?
Chemical engineering is absolutely worth it. As a chemical engineer, you can expect high pay and several benefits such as company stock, gym membership, dental and health insurance, and paid vacations. However, you will also be expected to undertake a lot of challenging and stressful work.
Chemical engineering application is diverse. Chemical Engineers work in conventional industries like petroleum, chemical, pharmaceutical, mineral processing, energy, etc. Recently, chemical engineers are also providing services in other sectors from biomedical to finance and banking, from new drug design to environmental and ecological issues.
Chemical engineering is necessary to meet the increasing demands while remaining economical and sustainable, environmentally friendly, safe, and ethical.
The problem with many chemical engineering jobs is that they are located far away from city centers. Since the work is practical there is little flexibility in terms of remote or online work. If you have a low CGPA, there are chances that you will not be hired on good initial pay.
The job market is crowded as there are so many chemical engineers graduating each year. However, the pay is above average amongst college graduates.
In fact, chemical engineers boast some of the highest mid-career salaries. Your degree will allow you to have amazing problem-solving and analytical skills once you graduate as a chemical engineer. These skills will give you the versatility to enter a variety of fields and will give you the edge in advancing your career.
In the end, it’s not just your skill and knowledge that’s relevant, but also how well you can sell yourself. Soft skills are a must. A good network can take you places. So, if you are passionate about it, do not let the unemployment ratio amongst engineers discourage you. Be confident and go for it.