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What Is Chemical Engineering? What Do Chemical Engineers Do?

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Japanese engineer Koichi Tanaka won the 2002 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Japanese engineer Koichi Tanaka won the 2002 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work identifying and analyzing large molecules. He was the youngest winner of the chemistry award since 1934.

Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images Chemical engineers can work anywhere in the world.

Chemical engineers supervise the central pumping station at the Yukos Oil and Gas company in Nefteyugansk, Siberia. Chemical engineers can work anywhere in the world.

Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images Engineers check each other for chemical and biological exposure.

Engineers check each other for chemical and biological exposure during a chemical warfare training exercise supporting Operation Enduring Freedom (2002) in McGuire Air Force Base, NJ.

Carlos Cintron/USAF/Getty Images

Question: What Is Chemical Engineering? What Do Chemical Engineers Do?

Answer:

What Is Chemical Engineering?

Chemical engineering basically is applied chemistry. It is the branch of engineering concerned with the design, construction, and operation of machines and plants that perform chemical reactions to solve practical problems or make useful products.

What Is a Chemical Engineer?

Like all engineers, chemical engineers use math, physics, and economics to solve technical problems. The difference between chemical engineers and other types of engineers is that they apply a knowledge of chemistry in addition to other engineering disciplines. Chemical engineers sometimes are called 'universal engineers' because their scientific and technical mastery is so broad.

What Do Chemical Engineers Do?

Some chemical engineers make designs and invent new processes. Some construct instruments and facilities. Some plan and operate facilities. Chemical engineers have helped develop atomic science, polymers, paper, dyes, drugs, plastics, fertilizers, foods, petrochemicals... pretty much everything. They devise ways to make products from raw materials and ways to convert one material into another useful form. Chemical engineers can make processes more cost effective or more environmentally friendly or more efficient. As you can see, a chemical engineer can find a niche in any scientific or engineering field.

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