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Job Descriptions, Definitions Roles, Responsibility: Chemical Engineers




Chemical engineers build a bridge between science and manufacturing, applying the principles of chemistry and engineering to solve problems involving the production or use of chemicals. They design equipment and develop processes for large-scale chemical manufacturing, plan and test methods of manufacturing products and treating byproducts, and supervise production. Chemical engineers also work in a variety of manufacturing industries other than chemical manufacturing, such as those producing electronics, photographic equipment, clothing, and pulp and paper. They also work in the healthcare, biotechnology, and business services industries.

The knowledge and duties of chemical engineers overlap many fields. Chemical engineers apply principles of chemistry, physics, mathematics, and mechanical and electrical engineering. (See chemists and materials scientists; physicists and astronomers; mechanical engineers; electrical and electronics engineers, except computer; and mathematicians elsewhere in the Handbook.) They frequently specialize in a particular chemical process such as oxidation or polymerization. Others specialize in a particular field, such as materials science, or the development of specific products such as fertilizers and pesticides, automotive plastics, or chlorine bleach. They must be aware of all aspects of chemicals manufacturing and how it affects the environment, the safety of workers, and customers. Because chemical engineers use computer technology to optimize all phases of research and production, they need to understand how to apply computer skills to chemical process analysis, automated control systems, and statistical quality control.