(Metallurgical Engineer, Chemical Process Engineer, Engineer - Chemical, Water Treatment Engineer, Microbiological Engineer)
Retrieving samples as part of a research project
Chemical engineers design and coordinate the construction and operation of manufacturing facilities and processes which convert raw materials into everyday products such as petrol, toothpaste, pharmaceuticals and plastics.
Duties and Tasks
Chemical engineers may perform the following tasks:
- seek new and more efficient processes and materials, or improve or find new uses for existing materials
- design methods and equipment to control and contain the processes that transform basic materials into useful products
- ensure the safe, efficient and environmentally friendly operation of equipment and test products at various stages of production to check the quality
- make plans and specifications for new production plants, taking into account available technology, the cost and size of equipment and storage space, market needs, transport methods and disposal of surplus substances
- review current methods of production for cost efficiency, environmental friendliness, maximum output and product quality
- identify faults in the day-to-day operation of process plants (such as oil refining, steel making, water treatment) and take corrective action
- prepare reports, feasibility studies and cost analyses of processes
- provide product process information to sales and marketing personnel or customers
- direct and coordinate the work of maintenance and construction tradespeople or process plant operators.
Chemical engineers may specialise in the following diverse fields:
- Bioprocess - involves pharmaceuticals and the food and drink industries.
- Chemical Process - involves the fertiliser industry, including pesticides and herbicides, caustic soda, glass and specialty chemicals.
- Combustion - involves large industrial furnaces such as those for steel manufacture or for power generation from coal or gas.
- Environmental - involves waste and water treatment, environmental regulations and recycling.
- Minerals - involves major minerals industries such as alumina/aluminium, steel, copper, lead and gold.
- Petrochemicals - involves the conversion of oil and gas into plastics, synthetic rubber and similar end uses.
- Petroleum - involves the production of oil, gas and LPG from onshore and offshore fields.
- Process Control - involves the instrumentation and control systems which enable a manufacturing process to run smoothly, safely and efficiently.
- Project Delivery - involves the construction of a process plant, converting the design into an efficient, safe operating plant.
Chemical engineers may advance to become business, technical, financial or works managers, personnel directors or managing directors of large companies.
School subjects that include some aspects of CHEMISTRY provide a useful background to these jobs. In some cases a chemistry-related subject is a pre-requisite for entry to courses that provide the training for the job.
School subjects that include some aspect of MATHEMATICS provide a useful background to these jobs. In some cases a mathematics-related subject is a pre-requisite for entry to courses that provide the training for the job.
School subjects that include some aspect of RURAL STUDIES provide a useful background to these jobs. In some cases an rural studies subject is a pre-requisite for entry to courses that provide the training for the job.
These jobs involve the daily handling of substances which may cause irritation to skin, eyes, etc., and may aggravate dermatitis or other medical conditions.
Workers performing these jobs would usually be expected to spend more than three-quarters of their day indoors, in an office, factory or other enclosed area protected from the weather.
These jobs require moderate or better reading and writing skills. Workers may be expected to prepare, understand or act on written materials, such as letters or reports. People may wish to avoid these jobs if their reading or writing English skills are limited to a small range of words or phrases and symbols. Jobs remaining may still require very basic reading or writing skills.
Included are all types of engineering and technical jobs, including support jobs such as draftspersons and technicians.
These jobs involve WORKING WITH IDEAS to investigate or seek solutions to scientific, technical, social or other issues. Activities include observing, researching, analysing and interpreting results. The ability to develop theories, apply logic and explore abstract ideas in a specialist area of knowledge is important.
These jobs involve WORKING WITH THINGS, using the hands, or special tools or equipment to make, fix, install or adjust them. Activities include doing practical and physical tasks, and may require an understanding of how equipment or machinery works.
Jobs in this group usually require completion of a recognised Bachelor Degree, or extensive relevant experience. Some jobs also require post-graduate study, such as a Graduate Certificate, Graduate Diploma or Master Degree.
Chemical engineers usually work standard hours, but may be called in to meet demanding deadlines. Those with responsibilities for continuous process plants may be on call 24 hours a day. Some may work shifts during the commissioning of new plants. Workplaces range from laboratories and processing plants to engineering design offices and research institutions.
- enjoy technical and engineering work
- safety conscious
- able to identify, analyse and solve problems
- good communication skills
- good at computing and design
- practical and creative
- able to work independently and accept responsibility.
Collecting samples to be used for chemical analysis
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