What is a Chemical Engineer?
Chemical Engineers are sometimes referred to as the "universal engineer" because they are needed to solve different problems for a wide range of industry types. Chemical Engineers are used in traditional industies such as chemicals, environmental and petroleum, and more often in emerging industries based on new materials, semiconductors and biotechnology. In summary, they:
- Develop new methods for the commercial production and control of such vital products as chemicals, minerals, and fossil fuels as well as the control of polluting and toxic substances.Use knowledge of materials, chemical reactions, and industrial processes to pioneer developments in industrial and consumer products. Experts on separation processes, such as distillation, absorption, evaporation, and filtration. Combine unit operations into innovative systems forming new or improved products and processes. Career challenges include mathematically analyzing such processes to specify instrumentation for the automatic control of manufacturing plants and applying engineering principles to research projects leading to the development of new process systems and techniques.
- Build rewarding careers in industries, government research agencies, and universities.
- Download a PDF describing the role of a Chemical Engineer.
The Fundamentals of Engineering/Engineer-in-Training Examination (FE/EIT) is the first of two exams you need to take to become registered as a professional engineer. According to Minnesota State statutes only a professional engineer is allowed to practice engineering in Minnesota. Other states have similar laws. A professional engineer takes an oath to protect public health and safety in the practice of engineering. In most states, a professional engineer has to approve all engineering designs. The FE/EIT exam canonly be taken by a person who has an engineering degree from an accredited engineering program or who is expecting to obtain an engineering degree within six months. In Minnesota, the Principles and Practice of Engineering Examination in the chosen engineering field is the second exam that a person takes after passing the FE/EIT exam and having four years of qualifying engineering practice. Each state has different rules for becoming registered as a professional engineer, but in all states you need to take and pass the two exams.
The FE/EIT exam is administered by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES), and is given in Minnesota by the Minnesota State Board of Engineering. The exam consists of two 4-hour limited reference closed book exams given twice a year, in April and October. The morning exam consists of 140 multiple choice questions while the afternoon exam consists of 70 multiple choice questions. The exam covers mathematics, chemistry. material science, statics, dynamics, mechanics of materials (deformable body mechanics), electrical circuits and electrical machinery, fluid mechanics, heat transfer and thermodynamics, and engineering economy. The Chemical Engineering Department encourages you to take the exam just before you graduate. The exam can be taken in Duluth at UMD. Review classes are often held each year at UMD, beginning in January, for persons interested in taking the exam in April. These reviews are conducted by UMD engineering faculty or professional engineers from industry. Registration for the review is around $150, which includes the EIT Reference Manual useful for preparing for the exam. There is a $40 application fee for taking the FE/EIT exam. The completed application form for taking the exam, along with a transcript and $40 must be sent to the State Board of Engineering by February 1st for the April Exam, or by August 1st for the October exam. Application forms can be obtained from the Continuing Education Office (Darland 403) or from the State Board of Engineering.
Although there is no formal requirement to participate in a COOP or internship program in the chemical engineering program, the department encourages participation if you are interested. The best time for a COOP or internship is between your junior and senior year. Internships are generally completed during the summer. A COOP requires time off during the regular academic year. The COOP program is arranged by mutual agreement between the department, the employer and you. You may register for ChE 3196 or ChE 3296 - Cooperative Education in the semesters you will be working. You also have to submit a written report and give a presentation to the department at the end of the COOP experience. Opportunities are posted in the department office, announced at AIChE student chapter meetings, by email, or listed at Career Services. Interested students can find positions from personal research by contacting companies directly.
Note that you may use the COOP to satisfy the 3XXX Science or Engineering Elective by completiing at least two semesters of COOP. Register for one credit the first semester and two credits the second semester. Please consult your advisor or the department head for more information.
Several companies that have offered COOP or internship opportunites to UMD chemical engineering students are: Cargill, 3M, Domtar, SAPPI, International Paper, IBM, Hutchinson Technology, Imation, Cleveland Cliffs, US Steel, Osmonics, Boise Cascade, Stora Enso, US Gypsum, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Minnesota and Wisconsin Pollution Control Agencies, Western Lake Superior Sanitary District, DM&IR. Murphy Oil, and MNTapp.
Check here for a sample list of companies that hire Chemical Engineers.
If you are accepted into the program as an upper-division student, you may register for ChE 3994 — Chemical Engineering Research in the semesters you do the research. You may also register for ChE 3994 in the semester you spend time for the preparation of the research proposal. At the end of the program you have to submit a satisfactory written report to the College of Science and Engineering and an oral presentation of the work you did to faculty and students.
The Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) is another way, to get involved in research and in addition get a stipend. The UROP is funded by the University of Minnesota for the express purpose of encouraging involvement in research by undergraduate students only under the direct supervision of a faculty member. The research work is usually done during the summer between the junior and senior years or during the junior or senior years. If you are interested in taking part in this program you should contact department faculty in the junior year to determine their research projects. Twice a year in the fall and spring semesters the Swenson College of Science and Engineering calls for applications from students interested in participating in this program. You must submit a completed application form with a short proposal of the research you propose to do. It must be written by you, not by the faculty member. Make sure you submit the application and the research proposal before the due date. Since it takes time for you to write a good proposal, you should be contacting the faculty about the research projects long before the call for applications. Most chemical engineering students who have applied for this program have been accepted.