The skills that chemical engineers possess are applicable in any industry. It is not just about handling chemicals or chemical processes. Process analysis, simulation and optimisation are core components in any chemical engineering curriculum.
The course also equips graduates on minimisation of usage of energy and maximisation of productivity. Chemical engineers can work on anything that involves providing inputs and transforming the input into any useful product.
Chemical engineering is all about analysis, simulation, diagnostics, control, coding and optimisation of processes that involve taking inputs to create a product. Conventionally, chemical engineers have worked in sectors including energy, water, agriculture, fertilisers, oil and petrochemicals and polymers.
Popular courses in any chemical engineering programme include instrumentation and process control, mechanical operations, computational techniques, statistical design and analysis of experiments, chemical and catalytic reaction engineering, concepts in engineering design, ecology and environment and chemical reaction engineering.
Chemical engineering is among the most flexible disciplines in BTech and offer a very large scope for a career opportunities to graduates in the field.
“Increasingly, chemical engineers are being recognised as people with versatile skills that can be applied for various purposes, apart from these core sector areas,” says R Nagarajan, professor, professor of chemical engineering at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras. “For instance, one of the key areas of chemical engineering is data analytics. In order to optimise a process, you need to collect a lot of data in the process and then use it to understand the process and optimise it. Data is data, irrespective of where it comes from. So, the process of analysing it remains the same. So, the big data analytics field is boosting the career prospects of many chemical engineers.”
Similarly, software development too, which takes lines of codes as inputs and converts it into a programme that people can use for various purposes, is a field that can be of interest to chemical engineers.
A good understanding of physics and mathematics is important to be able to do well in chemical engineering.
“The demand for chemical engineers in India is not as strong as in many regions close by in the Middle East or in developed countries like the United States. Supply is limited as well. The supply and demand ratio is quite favourable for chemical engineering graduates in India,” says Nagarajan, who is also the dean, international and alumni relations at IIT Madras.