What is Chemical Engineering?
Chemical engineers design and operate industrial processes that
convert raw materials into valuable chemical products.
The phrase “chemical products” includes petrochemicals, materials
and pharmaceuticals. But it also includes consumer products such as
detergents, shampoo, and toothpaste because these are mixtures of chemicals.
It also includes foodstuffs such as chocolate bars, ice cream and beer because
these are mixtures of chemicals. It also includes chemical products that are
made using biological organisms – this is one area of biotechnology.
Chemical Engineers are needed to develop processes and products that
address some of the problems facing humanity. These include the energy transition
away from fossil fuels, the need for sustainable food and water supplies as
climate changes, and the provision of improved healthcare.
What can I do with a Chemical Engineering degree?
Society wants sophisticated chemical products made by sustainable
processes and so Chemical Engineers are in great demand. There is particular
interest in the environment, energy and healthcare sectors.
Chemical Engineers work in the process industries making products,
or they may be involved in research developing new products or better
processes to make them. Some will occupy senior management positions. Some
will set up new companies. People with a Chemical Engineering degree can also
secure jobs outside the discipline, such as in finance or consultancy,
because of the broad range of skills acquired.
What might I need to study Chemical Engineering at Cambridge?
Chemical Engineers need a good understanding of Maths and Science from school, and an interest in solving problems that can have a real-world relevance.