What is Chemical Engineering?
Chemical engineering is a branch of engineering concerned with the design, construction, and operation, and maintenance of plants and equipment that perform chemical or bio-chemical reactions. These reactions could be to either make products such as medicines, cosmetics, plastics, paints, fertilizers, petrol etc. or to transform materials such as petroleum, polymers, cement, ceramics, pollutants, waste and sewage. A course in chemical engineering gives students technical knowledge of chemistry, biochemistry, applied mathematics and physics, materials science, environmental sciences and information technology in addition to fundamentals of engineering. They are also taught design of processes and equipment that will make the production efficient, safe and cost-effective. The focus is on taking products and solutions that have been developed in laboratories to large scale production.
How to Pursue the Course?
The first step to become a chemical engineer is to score at least 50% in physics, chemistry and math in class 12th. This is the basic eligibility. Some institutes ask for 60% or more as well. Once achieved the required grades, a student has to write certain examinations that are either national or state level based. Some national level exams are JEE Mains, JEE Advanced, Manipal OET, SRMEEE, BITSAT etc. Some state level exams involve UPSEE in UP, MHT-CET in Maharashtra, CET and COMEDK in Karnataka, WBJEE in West Bengal, and EAMCET in AP.
There are many institutes in India providing a B.Tech. or a BE in Chemical Engineering. Among them are some of the IITs; most of the NITs; BITS Pilani; Jadavpur University; BIT Mesra; Anna University, Chennai; Manipal Institute of Technology; SRM University; Thapar University; Osmania University and the list goes on.
There are a number of opportunities for chemical engineers in sectors such as pharmaceuticals, food processing, agrochemicals, petrochemicals, energy, and environment protection among many others. We are now seeing a lot of products in research and development which will soon be going into production. These include new types of medicines, cosmetics, materials, fuels, paints, fertilizers, food additives etc. Moreover, they play a vital role in defense industries producing fuels, chemicals and materials for high-tech weapons and missiles. All of this will require design of new processes and equipment for production and construction of chemical plants. Therefore, there are a lot of opportunities for chemical engineers and the will be increasing in the future.
Chemical engineers start of as trainees and go on to specialize either in product engineering or process engineering. As product Engineers they develop new or adapted substances or products and as process engineers they are involved in design, manufacturing, and operation of plants and equipment. The starting salary of a chemical engineer is about 2.5 – 3 lakhs per annum. The number may go up, if graduation is done from a more reputed college. Thereafter, once an engineer gains experience and builds a track record of high performance his/her salary goes up substantially.