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Chemical Engineering; Not What I Expected

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  • 2017 College Interns
  • 2017 College Interns
  • I grew up with two brothers, me being the middle child. Out of the three of us it was always me who was fixing things. I was always on the lookout for the next thing to improve or rig up. I’ve enjoyed math throughout my education and always dreaded writing papers for English class. I didn’t truly enjoy science until high school when I took physics and chemistry. When it came time to choose a major for college I factored in all these things and the only career path that made sense for me was engineering. Also, my dad was in engineering so it is in my blood.

    Going into college I really had no idea what each field of engineering actually did. So, instead of planning out my whole career before I even went to college, I choose Engineering Exploration as my major. Engineering Exploration is a 1 year program in which you learn about all the different engineering programs offered at RIT and then, at the end of the year, you pick any engineering major you want.  Being that I liked chemistry, and chemical engineering had a stronger focus on science then some of the other disciplines, I decided that chemical engineering was the best fit for me.

    Originally I thought that chemical engineering would focus a lot more on the chemistry side of things, like sitting in a lab mixing chemicals in test tubes and flasks.  In my first semesters at RIT we spent a lot of time learning the fundamentals of chemistry, just like the stereotypical chemist in a lab. Then we got into the true engineering classes and I quickly came to the realization that chemical engineering has a large focus on chemical processes and designing new materials. We started working on things such process flow diagrams, mass transfer operations, fluids, thermodynamics, heat transfer, and distillation. It is a vast and broad field that has endless opportunities. Someone with a background in chemical engineering can work in a wide variety of fields including energy, food and drink, petroleum, pharmaceuticals, plastics, or water treatment. 

    Although this not what I originally expected out of a career, I think I am well prepared for whatever the future will hold for me. Sometimes it is best to go with the flow and just see what happens. I cannot wait to see what my professional career will hold for me.

    Derek