In two words, chemical engineering 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. It applies the physical sciences (chemistry and physics) and/or life sciences (biology, microbiology and biochemistry) together with mathematics and economics to convert raw materials or chemicals into more useful and valuable forms. Chemical engineers might work in mineral-based industries, petrochemical plants, synthetic fiber units, petroleum refining plants, chemical industries or refineries. They might also work in pharmaceutical companies, paint manufacturing, the fertilizer industry, textiles sector, plastics or explosives.
Research organizations, laboratories, defence establishments, atomic power plants and forensic investigation departments employ experts in chemical engineering. Biochemical engineering is one common branch of chemical engineering. Other areas that might attract engineering students are nanotechnology and environmental engineering. Among conventional chemical engineering streams, some common areas are ceramics; fertilizers and pesticides; chemical processes; plastics and polymers; electrochemical processes and molecular chemistry-based fields.
Topics covered in chemical engineering
The main topics covered in the course curricula of chemical engineering include thermodynamics, material science and engineering, biochemical engineering, safety engineering, environmental engineering, process instrumentation, petrol refinery engineering, high polymer engineering and fluid mechanics. These are covered in the syllabus of most major universities. Electives might include water treatment technology, computational fluid dynamics, food technology, surface coating, ceramic technology, rubber technology, bio-nanotechnology or industrial pollution control.
A syllabus for chemical engineering usually involves all common engineering subjects in the first year. From the second year onwards, specialized courses could include reaction engineering, chemical thermodynamics, surface science, chemical kinetics, fluid mechanics and catalysis, according to All About Education. Until their final year, students generally read about chemical processes and properties and cover topics such as chemical reactors and chemical thermodynamics. They might also begin experimenting with technology and devices. By the end of their studies, students will likely be exposed to pharmaceuticals, petroleum, polymers and chemicals, as well as computer and information technology as it relates to chemical engineering processes. Chemical engineering graduates might not need to pursue postgraduate education for employment. Higher studies are an option, but chemical engineering graduates will need to compete with a large pool of graduates for courses such as Master of Science (M.Sc.) in Chemistry, M.Sc. in Biology, M.Sc. in Pharmaceutical Chemistry or Master of Pharmacy (M.Pharm.). Chemistry, biology and pharmacy graduates can all apply for the same field of work and study as chemical engineering graduates.
Colleges offering chemical engineering courses in India
Some colleges that offer programmes such as a Bachelor in Chemical Engineering or Bachelor of Technology (B.Tech.) in Chemical Engineering are listed below:
- Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur
- Indian Institute of Technology Bombay
- Indian Institute of Technology Madras
- Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai
- National Institute of Technology, Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu
- Birla Institute of Technology & Science (BITS), Pilani, Rajasthan
Programmes are subject to change, it is advisable to check directly with a school for current programme availability.
"Academic Programmes," IIT Madras, http://www.iitm.ac.in/academic-programmes
"B.Tech," National Institute of Technology, Tiruchirappalli, http://www.nitt.edu/home/academics/programmes/btech/
"Courses," BITS Pilani, http://www.bits-pilani.ac.in/pilani/chemicalEngineering/Courses
"Courses Offered," Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai, http://www.ictmumbai.edu.in/pageFiles/courses_offered.pdf?pageID=0&linkid=92
"UG Programme," IIT Bombay, http://www.che.iitb.ac.in/online/education/ug-programme
"Undergraduate Program," IIT Kanpur, http://www.iitk.ac.in/che/ug.htm