So we’re four weeks into semester 2 and let me tell you, this semester is very different from the one I just described in my previous post (oops). A lot less chemistry and a lot more process engineering – as you can see by the course names: Process Design 1, Process Engineering 2 Energy and Processing, and Process Engineering 3 Transfer Processes.
The natural followup question is, what exactly is process engineering? Our lecturer asked us this on the second day and no one had a clue, so here was her definition:
“Process [system] engineering is where the systems approach is applied in the planning, design, control, and optimisation of processing plants”
This basically means we design a chemical plant or process, in order to convert raw materials (could be milk or oils) into a useful product. This involves so many different principles that need to be considered, and currently, we are learning topics such as fluid mechanics, mechanics, thermodynamics and the ins and outs of a heat exchanger.
One of the main career pathways from studying CHEMMAT is becoming a process engineer. This is because New Zealand is very industrial based: pulp and paper; food, beverage and dairy industries; natural gas and iron and steel. And if you think about it, the production of pretty much anything will involve some sort of chemistry.
There is therefore a huge range of choices and pathways from CHEMMAT, so don’t think you are restricted to just mixing chemicals in a lab (this is often the assumption I get from many other specialisations).
So yeah, don’t be fooled from my Sem 1 Sum Up post where I said there was so much chemistry, and it’s basically all tests and exams. I have used knowledge from every single first-year paper in the courses this semester, as there are group projects, some MATLAB, and a lot of statics – so good idea not to throw those books out thinking you won’t need them again (another oops 🥴).