Chemical engineering, since its very inception, has been the effective use of mathematics, chemistry, and computational skills to scale-up reactions carried out at the lab scale to an industrial scale via the design of suitable equipment, such that the process is economically sound and environmentally benign. Modern chemical engineers deal with processes that convert raw-materials into more useful or valuable forms. In addition, they are also concerned with pioneering valuable materials and related techniques – which are often essential to related fields such as nanotechnology, fuel cells and bio engineering. Within chemical engineering, two broad subgroups include:
1. Process Engineers: Design, manufacture, and operation of plants and machinery in industrial chemical and related processes
2. Product Engineers: Development of new or adapted substances for products ranging from foods and beverages to cosmetics to cleaners to pharmaceutical ingredients, among many others.
Chemical engineering, as a profession is something very different from what a layman can guess intuitively. Also, the contributions made by chemical engineers in the industry are pivotal, yet so subtle that they’re never brought into limelight. Computers, Electronics, Mechanical, and even Civil engineering are more likely to hit the imagination of a child based on his everyday experiences. Now how on earth will he know the importance of an optimally designed pharmaceutical plant, when his everyday experiences do not account for anything of that sort?
The realization comes only when you’re actually a part of this amazing branch of study. The fact that you have an opportunity to be working on the most pressing problems of the Earth like Global Warming and Alternative Energy becomes a driving force for many. Some exciting research areas are:
1. Nanotechnology – At nanoscale certain materials demonstrate novel properties quite different from their macroscopic behaviour. Manipulating nanometer-length atoms, molecules, and supramolecular structures allows researchers to generate larger structures with superior features.
2. Material Science Engineering – Although material sciences is generally an undergrad major by itself, many chemical engineers also shift to this field for graduate school.
3. Energy – It’s a hot area with a lot of money!! Majorly deals with optimization, design and control of current energy consumption systems and researching on alternative energy resources.
4. Petroleum Engineering – This is direct application of chemical engineering principles to industry. Research in this area also involves improving environmental impact of petroleum refining. It is THE most well paid engineering area in the United States.
5. Systems Design and Engineering – Process design is an imaginative activity, an artful blend of intuition and analysis. Design is aided by mathematical tools that simulate the behaviour of the process and seek optimum operating conditions. Effective use of simulation and optimization tools allows unexpected pathways to be explored, dangerous operating regions to be identified, and transient and accident conditions to be tested. The end result is improved economy, reliability, and safety.
ChE at IIT (BHU)
Currently ranked among the nation’s top departments in chemical engineering, The Department is endowed with faculty members who are dedicated teachers and distinguished researchers and carry out cutting-edge research in all modern areas of chemical engineering, as well as in inter-disciplinary areas like environmental biotechnology, bio-sciences, hydrogen energy, and others. The Department provides a vibrant and creative learning environment for our students. It also participates extensively in R&D and consulting for a host of chemical and processing industries in India. The alumni (graduates with Bachelors, Masters and PhD degrees from our department) have distinguished themselves both in academia and industry, and continue to inspire the current generation of students.
The department provides an Hons. degree in Design, Transfer Process, Energy, Pollution/Environment and Catalysis & Reaction Engineering streams to meritorious students. The complete course structure can be found here.
Placements are pretty decent with core companies like HUL, Reliance, Aditya Birla, KBR, Flour Corporation, BPCL recruiting every year. Quite a lot of students opt for higher studies, which is a testimony to the research environment here. Financial, IT, and consulting giants also visit and recruit students from all branches, including Chemical Engineering.
The Department of Chemical Engineering, IIT (BHU) organises an annual departmental fest, Udbhav.
– Rishabh Gupta, Batch of 2016, Dept. of Chemical Engineering