But like, What Does a Chemical Engineer ACTUALLY do?

Hiya everyone, apologies for the very long gap between posts – a bunch of tests, projects and presentations clearly got the best of me.

For this blog post, I have decided to answer a question that I am literally constantly asked, and it has taken me this entire year of studying chemical engineering to finally have a decent answer.

And as you can tell by the title of this post: What does a chemical engineer actually do?

I will start by talking about some of the industries chemical engineers are involved/required in – which is basically any industry where you are manufacturing something on a large scale. Some examples that are particularly prevalent in New Zealand include:

  • Oil and Gas
  • Dairy Industry
  • Beer Brewing
  • Pulp and Paper
  • Wine Industry
  • Plastics and Polymers
  • And any kind of food processing

So yeah, basically chemical engineers are needed anytime you are converting any raw material into the desired end product.

Now to discuss their actual roles within these companies. To describe this using an analogy; perhaps a researcher/doctor has just created a new drug to help cure headaches. They have managed to make one little sample of this, and it is now desired to manufacture thousands at a time. They would then hire a team of chemical/process engineers who will design the entire manufacturing process, so that it is optimised in terms of sustainability, cost, time, quality, and various other constraints.

This is just one realm of chemical engineering, and some other common responsibilities can include performing process simulations, risk assessments, upgrading current systems or laboratory work.

Of course, this specialisation is combined with materials engineering as well, where some common applications of this include material analysis and selection for new processes, and failure/fracture mechanics.

Side note: if you’re worried about finding an internship for chemmat engineering – because chemical engineering is so broad and applied in so many different industries, there are so many options! Anything from research, construction site work, data analysis to packaging can contribute towards your hours.

In conclusion, if you’re quite interested in chemical and materials engineering and think it is the path for you, I would highly recommend firstly reading all my other posts to hear other people’s perspectives, but also doing some additional research to fully grasp what the industry is all about.