“What do students majoring in chemical engineering learn about? Is it chemistry or engineering or both?” – these are questions I got from my friends, family members, and colleagues a lot. But, to be completely honest, I could not answer them very well for a long time. This was because we covered various topicsin our courses, from Process Design to MATLAB Modeling, and transport phenomena to thermodynamics.
To quote a professor in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering (CBE), “chemists basically design reaction pathways to produce chemicals from raw materials while chemical engineers design processes to upscale them and mass produce the products.”
This is exactly what attracted me and incentivized me to transfer from chemistry to chemical engineering in the first place; the broad range of technical knowledge and practical skillsets is what this major offers. My experience in the CBE Department has taught me a very diversified set of skills applicable in various settings, including how I participated in optimizing cold room design during one of my summer internships in a food factory.
While chemical engineering does involve a decent amount of technical content, the single most important thing that I take away from my two years of studying this major is the ability to break a problem into individual components and structure an efficient solution systematically; this is a skill that any industry or career pathway would require and I am grateful to be able to practice it in all my courses in the School of Engineering.