Chemical engineering is a discipline influencing numerous areas of technology.In broad terms, chemical engineers are responsible for the conception and design of processes for the purpose of production, transformation and transportation of materials. This activity begins with experimentation in the laboratory and is followed by implementation of the technology to full scale production.
The large number of industries which depend on the synthesis and processing of chemicals and materials place the chemical engineer in great demand.; In addition to traditional examples such as the chemical, energy and oil industries, opportunities in biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, electronic device fabrication, and environmental engineering are increasing.
The unique training of the chemical engineer becomes essential in these areas whenever processes involve the chemical or physical transformation of matter. For example, chemical engineers working in the chemical industry investigate the creation of new polymeric materials with important electrical, optical or mechanical properties. This requires attention not only to the synthesis of the polymer, but also to the flow and forming processes necessary to create a final product. In biotechnology, chemical engineers have responsibilities in the design of production facilities to use microorganisms and enzymes to synthesize new drugs. Problems in environmental engineering that engage chemical engineers include the development of processes (catalytic converters, effluent treatment facilities) to minimize the release of or deactivate products harmful to the environment.
To carry out these activities, the chemical engineer requires a complete and quantitative understanding of both the engineering and scientific principles underlying these technological processes. This is reflected in the curriculum of the chemical engineering department which includes the study of applied mathematics, material and energy balances, thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, energy and mass transfer, separations technologies, chemical reaction kinetics and reactor design, and process design. These courses are built on a foundation in the sciences of chemistry, physics and biology.