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When you hear the words chemical engineer, what picture comes to your mind?
Do you envision someone in a lab wearing goggles and mixing chemicals? Do you picture supermodel Cindy Crawford? Probably not, but actually Major League pitcher Kevin Brown has a bachelors in chemical engineering from Georgia Tech and Cindy Crawford attended Northwestern University on a chemical engineering scholarship. Like other engineers, chemical engineers use math, their knowledge of engineering, and science to solve technical problems in a safe and economical way. Chemical engineers rely on their knowledge of chemistry to get the job done.
So, what does that mean in the real world?
Many chemical engineers take raw materials and make new products. They work in a wide range of industries including pharmaceuticals, food processing, electronics, environmental health and safety, petrochemicals, and manufacturing, among others. They might figure out how to make certain medicines more widely available and affordable to consumers. They might create new chemical fertilizers, or develop food processing techniques to create better tasting, more nutritious, or healthier foods. But, not all chemical engineers make things. Some might use their skills working in education, publishing, law, and other fields as well.
In the energy industry, chemical engineers, like Chuck, are involved in a lot of different areas. They design chemical plant equipment and develop processes for manufacturing chemicals and products like gasoline, detergents, and plastics. They look for more efficient ways of refining petroleum products. Others work on solving environmental and safety issues. Another job of chemical engineers is to research and develop synthetic fibers and other replacements for natural resources so that manufacturers and consumers have more options.