Chemical Engineer

Summary

Chemical engineers design and coordinate the construction and operation of manufacturing facilities and processes that convert raw materials into everyday products such as petrol, toothpaste, pharmaceuticals and plastics.

Duties & 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 their quality
  • make plans and specifications for new production plants, taking into account available technology, the cost and size of equipment and storage space, market requirements, transport methods and disposal of surplus substances
  • review current methods of production for cost efficiency, environmental friendliness, maximum output and optimal product quality
  • identify faults in the day-to-day operation of process plants (such as oil refining, steel making and 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.

Working Conditions

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.

Personal Requirements

  • enjoy technical and engineering work
  • safety-conscious
  • able to identify, analyse and solve problems
  • good communication skills
  • aptitude for computing and design
  • practical and creative
  • able to work independently and accept responsibility.

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