What do Chemical Engineers Do?

It would take too long to list all the products that are impacted by chemical engineers, but knowing what industries employ them may help you comprehend the scope of their work.

Chemical Engineering Jobs, Chem jobs

What do Chemical Engineers Do?

Chemical engineers work in manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, healthcare, design and construction, pulp and paper, petrochemicals, food processing, specialty chemicals, microelectronics, electronic and advanced materials, polymers, business services, biotechnology, and environmental health and safety industries, among others.

Within these industries, chemical engineers rely on their knowledge of mathematics and science—particularly chemistry— to overcome technical problems safely and economically. And, of course, they draw upon and apply their engineering knowledge to solve any technical challenges they encounter. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that chemical engineers only “make things,” though. Their expertise is also applied in the areas of law, education, publishing, finance, and medicine, as well as in many other fields that require technical training.

Specifically, chemical engineers improve food processing techniques, and methods of producing fertilizers, to increase the quantity and quality of available food.

They also construct the synthetic fibers that make our clothes more comfortable and water resistant; they develop methods to mass-produce drugs, making them more affordable; and they create safer, more efficient methods of refining petroleum products, making energy and chemical sources more productive and cost effective.

Chemical engineers also develop solutions to environmental problems, such as pollution control and remediation.

And yes, they process chemicals, which are used to make or improve just about everything you see around you.

Chemical engineers face many of the same challenges that other professionals face, and they meet these challenges by applying their technical knowledge, communication and teamwork skills; the most up-to-date practices available; and hard work. Benefits include financial reward, recognition within industry and society, and the gratification that comes from working with the processes of nature to meet the needs of society.

What is Civil Engineering?

Civil engineering is arguably the oldest engineering discipline. It deals with the built environment and can be dated to the first time someone placed a roof over his or her head or laid a tree trunk across a river to make it easier to get across.

The built environment encompasses much of what defines modern civilization. Buildings and bridges are often the first constructions that come to mind, as they are the most conspicuous creations of structural engineering, one of civil engineering’s major sub-disciplines. Roads, railroads, subway systems, and airports are designed by transportation engineers, another category of civil engineering. And then there are the less visible creations of civil engineers. Every time you open a water faucet, you expect water to come out, without thinking that civil engineers made it possible. New York City has one of the world’s most impressive water supply systems, receiving billions of gallons of high-quality water from the Catskills over one hundred miles away. Similarly, not many people seem to worry about what happens to the water after it has served its purposes. The old civil engineering discipline of sanitary engineering has evolved into modern environmental engineering of such significance that most academic departments have changed their names to civil and environmental engineering.

These few examples illustrate that civil engineers do a lot more than design buildings and bridges. They can be found in the aerospace industry, designing jetliners and space stations; in the automotive industry, perfecting the load-carrying capacity of a chassis and improving the crashworthiness of bumpers and doors; and they can be found in the ship building industry, the power industry, and many other industries wherever constructed facilities are involved. And they plan and oversee the construction of these facilities as construction managers.

Civil engineering is an exciting profession because at the end of the day you can see the results of your work, whether this is a completed bridge, a high-rise building, a subway station, or a hydroelectric dam.

Please look at the Web pages of our individual faculty members to learn more about their special interests as examples of what civil engineering and engineering mechanics is and can be about.

What is Instrumentation Engineering?

In scientific terms, instrumentation is defined as the art and science of measurement and control of process variables within a production, or manufacturing area. The science has further opened up the realm of instrumentation engineering.

The discipline of instrumentation engineering branched out of the streams of electrical and electronic engineering some time in the early part of 1970s. “It is a multi-disciplinary stream and covers subjects from various branches such as chemical, mechanical, electrical, electronics and computers,” says Prof. A. Bhujanga Rao, from the department of Instrumentation Engineering, Andhra University.

The professor adds that instrumentation engineering is a specialised branch of electrical and electronic engineering and it deals with measurement, control and automation of processes.


Almost all process and manufacturing industry such as steel, oil, petrochemical, power and defence production will have a separate instrumentation department, which is manned and managed by instrumentation engineers. “Automation is the buzz word in process industry, and automation is the core job of instrumentation engineers. Hence, the demand for instrumentation will always be there,” says the professor.

The growth in the avionics, aeronautical and space science sectors has also increased the scope for instrumentation engineers. Instrumentation engineers can also fit in both software and hardware sectors.

Apart from covering core subjects such as system dynamics, industrial instrumentation and process control, analytical and bio-medical instrumentation and robotics, the students deal with software and hardware topics such as microprocessor and micro controller based instrumentation, VLSI and embedded system designs, computer architecture and organisation and computer control of processes. Computer languages such as ‘C’ and Fortran are also part of the curriculum. This makes an instrumentation engineer fit for both the hardware and the software industry. Moreover, since instrumentation engineers are presumed to be good in physics, the logical ability is expected to be on the higher side, which is a basic quality needed to excel in the software industry.

The demand is so high that every student finds at least two jobs waiting in the wings, by the time he or she completes her course, says Dr. Bhujanga Rao.

Nature of work of an instrumentation engineer ranges from designing, developing, installing, managing equipments that are used to monitor and control machinery and processes.

“Though there is a demand for instrumentation engineers from the software sector, we prefer the core area, as that is where we can showcase our creativity and knowledge,” says Srinivas a third-year student.

The shift towards core sector is not only due to the opportunity to showcase ones creative talent and knowledge, but also because of the long term stability and quick growth. Bio-medical is another area that is fast catching up and there is huge requirement for instrumentation professionals.

Instrumentation engineering that made its way as an exclusive engineering discipline in the early part of 1970s was earlier known as M.Sc. Tech Instrumentation in many of the colleges. It was then a three-year PG course. Even today, it is referred to by different names by various colleges. While some call it as B. Tech- electronics and instrumentation, a few name it as B. Tech – control and instrumentation. Whatever, be the name, the curriculum is the same.

What is Electrical Engineering?

Electrical engineering is one of the newer branches of engineering, and dates back to the late 19th century. It is the branch of engineering that deals with the technology of electricity. Electrical engineers work on a wide range of components, devices and systems, from tiny microchips to huge power station generators.

Early experiments with electricity included primitive batteries and static charges. However, the actual design, construction and manufacturing of useful devices and systems began with the implementation of Michael Faraday’s Law of Induction, which essentially states that the voltage in a circuit is proportional to the rate of change in the magnetic field through the circuit. This law applies to the basic principles of the electric generator, the electric motor and the transformer. The advent of the modern age is marked by the introduction of electricity to homes, businesses and industry, all of which were made possible by electrical engineers.

Some of the most prominent pioneers in electrical engineering includeThomas Edison (electric light bulb), George Westinghouse (alternating current), Nikola Tesla (induction motor), Guglielmo Marconi (radio) andPhilo T. Farnsworth (television). These innovators turned ideas and concepts about electricity into practical devices and systems that ushered in the modern age.

Since its early beginnings, the field of electrical engineering has grown and branched out into a number of specialized categories, including power generation and transmission systems, motors, batteries and control systems. Electrical engineering also includes electronics, which has itself branched into an even greater number of subcategories, such as radio frequency (RF) systems, telecommunications, remote sensing, signal processing, digital circuits, instrumentation, audio, video and optoelectronics.

The field of electronics was born with the invention of the thermionic valve diode vacuum tube in 1904 by John Ambrose Fleming. The vacuum tube basically acts as a current amplifier by outputting a multiple of its input current. It was the foundation of all electronics, including radios, television and radar, until the mid-20th century. It was largely supplanted by the transistor, which was developed in 1947 at AT&T’s Bell Laboratories by William Shockley, John Bardeen and Walter Brattain, for which they received the 1956 Nobel Prize in physics.

What is Mechanical Engineering?

Mechanical engineering is a diverse subject that derives its breadth from the need to design and manufacture everything from small individual parts and devices (e.g., microscale sensors and inkjet printer nozzles) to large systems (e.g., spacecraft and machine tools). The role of a mechanical engineer is to take a product from an idea to the marketplace. In order to accomplish this, a broad range of skills are needed. The mechanical engineer needs to acquire particular skills and knowledge. He/she needs to understand the forces and the thermal environment that a product, its parts, or its subsystems will encounter; to design them for functionality, aesthetics, and the ability to withstand the forces and the thermal environment they will be subjected to; and to determine the best way to manufacture them and ensure they will operate without failure. Perhaps the one skill that is the mechanical engineer’s exclusive domain is the ability to analyze and design objects and systems with motion.

Since these skills are required for virtually everything that is made, mechanical engineering is perhaps the broadest and most diverse of engineering disciplines. Mechanical engineers play a central role in such industries as automotive (from the car chassis to its every subsystem—engine, transmission, sensors); aerospace (airplanes, aircraft engines, control systems for airplanes and spacecraft); biotechnology (implants, prosthetic devices, fluidic systems for pharmaceutical industries); computers and electronics (disk drives, printers, cooling systems, semiconductor tools); microelectromechanical systems, or MEMS (sensors, actuators, micropower generation); energy conversion (gas turbines, wind turbines, solar energy, fuel cells); environmental control (HVAC, air-conditioning, refrigeration, compressors); automation (robots, data and image acquisition, recognition, control); manufacturing (machining, machine tools, prototyping, microfabrication).

To put it simply, mechanical engineering deals with anything that moves, including the human body, a very complex machine. Mechanical engineers learn about materials, solid and fluid mechanics, thermodynamics, heat transfer, control, instrumentation, design, and manufacturing to understand mechanical systems. Specialized mechanical engineering subjects include biomechanics, cartilage-tissue engineering, energy conversion, laser-assisted materials processing, combustion, MEMS, microfluidic devices, fracture mechanics, nanomechanics, mechanisms, micropower generation, tribology (friction and wear), and vibrations. The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) currently lists 36 technical divisions, from advanced energy systems and aerospace engineering to solid-waste engineering and textile engineering.

The breadth of the mechanical engineering discipline allows students a variety of career options beyond some of the industries listed above. Regardless of the particular path they envision for themselves after they graduate, their education will have provided them with the creative thinking that allows them to design an exciting product or system, the analytical tools to achieve their design goals, the ability to overcome all constraints, and the teamwork needed to design, market, and produce a system. These valuable skills could also launch a career in medicine, law, consulting, management, banking, finance, and so on.

For those interested in applied scientific and mathematical aspects of the discipline, graduate study in mechanical engineering can lead to a career of research and teaching.