Chemical and Process Engineering
See also Engineering
Chemical and process engineers are concerned with transforming bulk raw materials into processed, marketable products by chemical, physical or biological means. They take the experiments that a scientist performs in the laboratory and operate them on a commercial scale taking into account economics, safety and sustainability. Some may also be involved in the research and development of new products and processes, such as those in nanotechnology, biotechnology or advanced materials.
Chemical and process engineering is a profession that combines chemistry and engineering concepts to help solve problems related to the pollution of our environment, meeting demands for energy, food and health industries, and creating new materials. It is the only traditional Engineering discipline that explicitly builds upon physics, chemistry and biology along with the mathematical rigour required of all engineers.
Chemical and process engineers design, operate and optimise processes for adding value to raw materials. For example, the process of turning milk into dairy products, wood into paper products, crude oil into petrol, sugar into ethanol, waste water into clean water and waste products into usable energy. They work in areas such as oil and gas, renewable energy, biofuel production, environmental control, fermentation, waste treatment, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals. They are responsible for scaling up up processes from lab to large scale.
They are also involved in minimising the emission of undesirable by-products by improving the operating efficiency of processes and by intercepting and cleaning pollutants from waste streams that go to air, water and soil. A number of chemical engineers work in medical fields, such as in the design of artificial kidneys or the production of vaccines.
Chemical and process engineers are also required to exercise a range of wider skills encompassing commercial awareness, and communication and management skills. A keen sense of social responsibility and economic awareness is also essential.
If you are interested in biotechnology, biochemistry, microbiology or molecular biology and are also interested in engineering then the new minor in Bioprocess Engineering within the BE(Hons) in Chemical and Process Engineering is worth considering.
Bioprocess Engineering is about using biology for cleaner and more effective manufacturing processes and for the design of better products such as pharmaceuticals, proteins, alcoholic beverages, vitamins, dairy products, detergents, confectionery, processed foods and clean water.
There is a rapidly increasing demand for Engineering graduates with an appreciation and knowledge of the biological sciences. The manufacture of new materials and many pharmaceutical and healthcare products, including medicines and vaccines, relies upon the application of biology to industrial processes.
The first year of the BE(Hons) is called the Engineering Intermediate Year. See Engineering for more information on the Engineering Intermediate.
Chemical and Process Engineering – required Intermediate courses
- See all Chemical and Process Engineering courses
- See all courses required to complete a BE(Hons) in Chemical and Process Engineering
The First Professional Year consists of compulsory courses in modelling, engineering chemistry, principles of biology, chemical process technology, thermodynamics and fluid mechanics.
In the second and third professional years courses include topics such as process systems and process engineering, thermodynamics, chemical reaction engineering, heat transfer and separations. Final year students can include courses in more specialist topics, including renewable energy technologies, management, bioprocess engineering, industrial pollution control and wood products engineering to suit their specific interests, and must complete a research project.
Opportunities for postgraduate study and research are provided in the Department of Chemical and Process Engineering for students who wish to prepare themselves for a career in research and development or for an academic career. Postgraduate work is also very valuable for the development of wider skills such as communication, interpersonal and project management skills.
Current research activities are focused into two major groupings: natural products processing and thermophysical properties and processes.
New Zealand’s manufacturing base is moving increasingly towards low-volume, highly-specialised, high-value products. This shift together with further environmental pressures will increase the need for chemical and process engineers and their expertise to ensure that novel, cleaner process technology is available.
Graduates in Chemical and Process Engineering may find themselves employed in a wide range of activities, with a large number employed in New Zealand’s processing industries. Companies employ chemical engineers to design and operate the factory at best possible efficiency with low levels of waste and pollution and to develop novel products to meet new opportunities in the marketplace.
Even with the current decline in gas reserves the petrochemical industry continues to grow and employs engineers at oil refineries and a number of gas processing plants. As new oil and gas fields are discovered demand for graduates will increase.
Other graduates are employed helping to make aluminium, steel, fertilisers, food, pharmaceutical and medical products, and in related areas such as project coordination, waste treatment, research, consulting, marketing, computing and management.
Graduates in Chemical and Process Engineering may become full corporate members of the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) after a period of experience as a practising engineer. As with other UC Engineering degrees, they are also eligible to become members of the Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand (IPENZ).
For further career information, please go to www.canterbury.ac.nz/careers
Department of Chemical and Process Engineering
Telephone: +64 3 364 2543