what do you do in an engineering job?Watch
i'm really quite confused, and it's putting me off pursuing this career route, when it might actually be quite exciting and interesting.
design structures, consider the properties of materials used, thinking of solutions to problems, fixing machines, etc
Chemical Engineers have very varied work, and in industry they are more widely known as Process Engineers, which is perhaps a little more descriptive of the work they actually do. Chemical/Process Engineers maintain processes. For example, a chemist will work out and do lab work on what materials need to react with what to create the desired product, whether you need cataylsts and the general conditions for the reaction to work. Chemical Engineers then work out how this is going to be achieved on a large scale. This involves them doing lab work on small scale, pilot plant work, on a larger, intermediate stage, and then finally on full scale. They will need to work out how the conditions are going to be maintained in the system, how the process is going to be safe, where the waste/effluent/by-products are going to go afterwards etc. In order to understand how to do this, at uni, a chemeng degree teaches you a lot about fluid flow - the different properties and how these impact what decisions you should make on sizes of your plant (reactors, heat exchangers, pipes and so on) and on what materials of construction should be used. Other decisions to be made will include how will energy be input into the system, how can the temperature be kept constant over a large volume of liquid, how can you ensure that mixing in a large reactor is efficient so that you can assume a constant concentration profile etc.
Other Chemical Engineering work includes things like commissioning. This is the stage after a plant has been designed by a combination of engineers, and is in the process of being built. A team of chemical engineers need to inspect all of the lines in the plant to ensure that they are safe to go live. Therefore, you are checking against leaks, checking that valves are installed the correct way around, checking that all the equipment is in good working order etc.
Main industries for Chemical Engineers: oil/petrochemical, pharmaceuticals, food, drink, energy etc.
I would definitely recommend looking on the course details on different university websites and also going on courses at unis set-up for students who are interested in engineering. These courses give you a taste of what you are likely to study, and also what type of projects you could be involved with.
Websites that might be good are:
Will try and come back to stick a few more on here, but also try and look at Uni engineering societies websites - they usually give you a bit of info from the students point of view.
Hope some of that helps - sorry it's very ChemEng biased...