Chemical engineers apply scientific principles to the solution of problems involving chemical and physical change. They design, install, and operate complete process-es for the efficient production of materials and tailor the properties of materials for specific applications. Chemical engineers today play a direct professional role in such diverse areas as chemical processing; petroleum refining; pollution control and abatement; materials processing; biochemical engineering; instrumentation; computer automation, control, and modeling; biomedical engineering; oceanography; energy; food processing; systems engineering; and manufacturing.
Louisiana and the Gulf Coast region lead the nation in growth of the chemical, petroleum, and materials industries. In these industries, about 40 percent of the professional staffs are chemical engineers. Besides providing technical leadership for these industries, chemical engineers are a major source of management personnel. Chemical engineering also offers many opportunities for independent enterprise.
Chemical engineers must combine many different abilities in their work. These include an aptitude for chemistry, computer science, physics, mathematics, and economics; the capability of presenting decisions to management in a lucid and concise manner; and the ability to bring scientifically oriented talents to bear on practical problems.
The undergraduate curriculum is concerned primarily with fundamentals, and basic courses in mathematics, chemistry, and chemical engineering are required. Through a series of elective courses, students may select a formal concentration in one of three areas: biomolecular, environmental, or materials studies. Alternatively, students can use these electives to plan a program that emphasizes a subfield of their choice. The curriculum requires liberal amounts of arts, humanities, and social sciences electives to satisfy the University’s general education and external accreditation requirements. These serve to prepare students for the responsibilities of citizenship, aside from a technical career. The undergraduate curriculum is oriented toward the use of computers, which have become an integral part of the engineering profession.
Chemical engineers are among the highest-salaried graduates in engineering across the nation. In the foreseeable future, it is predicted that the supply of chemical engineers available to industry will not match the demand; consequently, the salary and job opportunities should continue to be favorable.
The chemical engineering curriculum has been continuously accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET, www.abet.org.