The Role of Chemical Engineers

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Chemical engineers are considered to be "universal engineers." They use chemistry, physics, biology, microbiology, biochemistry and mathematics to design programs, machines and processes that turn raw materials into valuable products for human use and for use in the environment. Chemical engineers play a very important role in making modern society as we know it from creating simple products such as paper, plastic, rubber, pharmaceuticals, gasoline and cement.

Responsibilities and Duties

  • Chemical engineers have multiple job responsibilities and duties to perform on a daily basis. Meticulous research is an important first step in order to cover all issues before the production of products. Chemical engineers are also responsible for designing programs, machinery and processes that are used to manufacture their products. Performing a multitude of tests and analyzing data, problems and engineering design during the creation process is also key work of the chemical engineer. In addition, chemical engineers must prepare multiple reports and consult with other individuals on their findings.

Manufacturing

  • Chemical engineers play an important role in the creation and manufacturing of materials that we use every day. For example, advances in polymer chemistry allowed the creation of plastic, which we use for almost everything in modern life. Also, materials created by chemical engineers are synthetic fibers. We use these synthetic fibers to make items such as clothes, beds and pillows, which help reduce the reliance on natural sources such as cotton and wool. Another important material that has been manufactured is rubber, which is used for many things from tires, hoses and conveyor belts to shoes.

Health

  • Chemical engineers play an important role in public health. They study complex chemical processes and materials to improve and prolong the quality of life through the creation of vaccines, antibiotics and pharmaceuticals. Another important area in this field is the creation of medical devices such as prostheses and biomaterial. Examples are artificial hips, artificial organs, contact lenses, pacemakers and inner-ear implants. Chemical engineering is also responsible for chemical synthesis of drugs, genetic engineering and gene therapy.

Information and Communication

  • Chemical engineers play a valuable role in the majority of information and communication technologies. They are involved in the processes and manufacture of optical fibers that are used for long-range transmission of data and voice. Also, the creation of plastic electronic packaging is key for providing a protective shell around consumer electronics that enable them to be transported and endure hot temperatures. Further, chemical engineers are involved in microelectronics, light-wave communication systems, optical interconnection and electronic microcircuits for devices we use every day, such as digital watches, calculators, microwave ovens, computer screens and telephones.

Environment

  • The environment is another field where chemical engineers play an important role. They help to create economical answers to our waste and pollution problems. Creation of catalytic converters, smoke stack scrubbers, environmentally friendly products, recycling, and electronic vehicles are a few examples of their impact on the environment. Another important issue is the creation of processes to increase the efficiency of our fossil energy sources such as reformulated gasoline, and the creation of alternative, non-fossil sources such as solar, wind, water and nuclear energy.

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