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what is a chemical engineer's day like?

I am almost certain that I want to pursue a career in chemical engineering but I want to know what a normal day for this job is like. #engineering #chemical

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David’s Answer

Hi. One of the most common entry-level jobs is that of technical support engineer for a production unit. This role typically monitors how a production unit is running and works on ways to improve it.

A production unit is rarely perfect. Typically, there are technical aspects that are not completely understood. There are aspects that change as equipment ages or as raw material quality varies. People are a very important part of plants and their are almost always opportunities to improve peoples' knowledge and output. Perfect or not, a production unit requires good communication. Production engineers help with all of the above.

A day typically starts with reading reports on the previous days output. This might involve reading emails, reviewing logs or looking at charts generated by the computer that controls the process. This reading might take an hour.

Then, typically, the process engineer will visit the unit control room to talk with operators or maintenance. The operators have first-hand knowledge of details that might not be in a report. This is also a good opportunity for a process engineer to educate new operators on the process. A good process engineer builds relationships with non-technical people which helps communication and morale.

Next, a process engineer begins to problem-solve. Typical problems might be a process mystery from the previous night or a need to order a better piece of equipment. Or, using statistics to better understand how small changes in a raw material affect the quality of whatever the unit makes.

This problem-solving varies widely and takes up most of the day. During the day the engineer will often attend meetings where problems are discussed. He or she will often discuss technical issues with other process engineers and share knowledge.

Toward the end of the day the process engineer typically focuses on communication. This might be communication directed towards operators who will be working that night or perhaps a report on a technical issue for their bosses' boss. Communication is critically important in a plant, whether it's reading, writing or talking. Process engineers do a lot of communicating.

That, in a nutshell, is a typical day!

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Gordon’s Answer

I am only a mechanical engineer, but I have worked in chemical plants limited. Most likely oil and gas refineries , possibly overseas, also could be food industry, bacteria and additives, if so needed. Adhesives such as Locktight and superglue use your talenst for sequence and amount of ingredients, proper mixing and new product development.
Trust this will help you. Oh yea pharmaceuticals (drugs), be prpared for at least 10 hr days.

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Michael’s Answer

First you need you understand that chemical engineer isn't actually a position. It is a degree and education. Chemical engineers can then go and fill a plethora of jobs like:
Project Engineer
Plant Process Engineer
Process Engineer
Systems Engineer
Controls Engineer
Start-Up Engineer
Etc etc the list is endless

The two most "typical" positions would be a plant process engineer and the process engineer.

Plant process engineer intimately learns an operating plant and works tirelessly to optimize and increase performance. This requires tons of on-site experience, number crunching calculating efficiencies, closing out material and heat balanves, and developing projects that increase efficiency that could be handed to the project engineers. These engineers play no role in the development and construction of a new plant.

A process engineer works with simutation programs to develop and engineer a brand new facility. This job is essentially entirely office based behind a desk with minimal to no on-site experience. When you and the team finish the engineering, the plans would be given to the construction group for execution.

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Simon’s Answer

A chemical engineer can fill both a process and project role.
Process engineers study and improve processes ( chemical, food, pharma etc.). They are usually stations at a plant and work in the plant as well as working at the desks. They work with procedures and process equipment.

Project engineers work with improving and installing new facilities. A process engineer in this case would study existing facility/personnel and work with a project team of engineers to install a better or more efficient system for a defined cost and schedule. These Process (chemical) engineers develop the process, size equipment, create specifications and procedures and oversee the installation/start-up of the new facility. Good luck.