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What are the challenges and problems facing modern chemical engineers in solving global problems?

I want to become a chemical engineer and I also want to contribute to solving global problems such as climate change, alternative forms of energy and etc. In this case it is important to know what challenges I need to be prepared for as a 16 year old teenager.

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Michael’s Answer

Your focus at 16 should be on getting a great education. Solid math and science courses to prepare yourself for college. Whatever engineering major you choose will be a challenge. You can then take this educational background and solve the world’s problems.
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Archived’s Answer

Congratulations on taking an interest in solving global problems. It is very important that we fill the career pipeline with people interested in problems such as climate change, alternative forms of energy, etc. While I'm not working as a chemical engineer, I do have a degree in electrical engineering. I can tell you as an engineer there will always be new challenges to face and address as a global community. Engineers and scientists are working hard today to understand and address problems that we may have not even known about 10, 15, or 20 years ago. The world is evolving so there will always be an opportunity to learn and make things better. Continue to learn and stay informed about what is happening in the world then when you become an engineer you will be prepared to contribute to solving global challenges!

Archived recommends the following next steps:

Read journals and articles on global areas of concern that are important to you.
You can find ways now (at 16 years old) to volunteer and get involved in raising awareness on issues that you are concerned about.
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Adrian’s Answer

Hello Symbat,

Pursuing a degree in Chemical Engineering is an excellent choice, as it equips you with a solid foundation in engineering concepts and logical problem-solving abilities, which are highly valuable and versatile skills. Currently, companies in the renewable energy sector are actively seeking Chemical Engineers due to the unique expertise they bring to the field.

Climate change and alternative energy sources are fascinating and relatively new areas to explore. As an undergraduate, you should search for programs that emphasize these subjects. However, you might find that many degree courses still focus primarily on the well-established oil and gas industry. This means that courses related to renewable energy might not be fully integrated into the curriculum yet.

When I studied Chemical Engineering, I was drawn to the pharmaceutical industry, which was quite specialized at the time. This allowed me to engage in intriguing research opportunities, and you might be able to do the same. Investigate the research interests of professors at your university and connect with those who share your passion for climate change and alternative energy.

Additionally, consider joining special interest groups related to these topics within the Chemical Engineering professional organization (open to university students). This is an excellent way to network and learn about the practical applications of Chemical Engineering in these fields.

One of the main challenges you may face in this area is the willingness of governments to adopt policies that promote renewable and alternative energy sources. These options must be cost-effective (equal or lower in price compared to existing energy sources) and dependable. It is also crucial for energy companies to be forward-thinking and prepared to transition to renewable energy, as they can influence government policies and the overall direction of the industry.

Adrian recommends the following next steps:

Check University Prospectus - Look for courses that cover Renewables and Energy on the syllabus
Investigate the University Lecturers / Professors - Are there like minded academics researching Renewables and Energy?
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