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Why Chemical Engineering?

What is a Chemical Engineer?

Chemical engineers use design skills supported by their knowledge of the sciences (chemistry, physics, and biology) to develop techniques to manipulate molecules that make up chemicals. They design ways to make new chemicals, improve the use of chemicals, manage energy systems, and destroy harmful chemicals before they enter the environment. This mastering of chemicals allows them to perform an amazing array of jobs that result bettering our global society.

What does a Chemical Engineer Do?

Chemical engineers can design biological system (Bioengineering) to clean the environment, reduce green-house gases, and transform waste into fuels and chemicals. Specific examples of integrating biology and process development include making glues from algae, designing needle-free drug delivery through the skin, making biocoal from wood wastes, producing artificial skin, designing a production system for a cancer fighting drug, and large-scale production of vaccines for pandemics. In addition, chemical engineers can also integrate principles of chemistry and physics to contribute to the development of sustainable technologies by rethinking battery designs, developing self-healing plastics, chemical production from raw materials (ex. refining crude oil into products), designing clean energy systems (ex. constructing a better fuel cell), computer modeling of chemical reactions (ex. developing a cheaper and/or greener way to produce chemicals), and designing complex chemical plants (ex. designing a production facility that makes biodiesel from soybean oil).

While many chemical engineers work in chemical plants, there are many other job sectors for chemical engineers (e.g., Bioengineering, Energy Resources, and Environmental Engineering). Examples include consulting firms, government agencies, water treatment facilities, pharmaceutical operations, food processing plants, research firms, regulatory agencies, technical sales, biofuels production, and device design companies. Additionally, after graduation, many chemical engineers often go on to medical school, law school, or graduate school. In fact, chemical/biomedical engineers consistently score higher on the MCAT exam than other majors (including biology and pre-med majors which tend to score the lowest among all majors as per the MCAT database). The problem solving and reasoning skills learned by chemical engineers give them unique mental tools to become excellent doctors or lawyers.

Make a Difference as a Chemical Engineer

With our entire universe literally made up of chemicals, the chemical engineer is capable of making tremendously positive impacts on our earth and how our global society interacts with the planet. But our planet is not a limitation, chemical engineers are now also developing solutions to allow humans to explore and live in space, and one day soon, live on planetary bodies like Mars. In short, chemical engineering allows you to make a difference. UL Lafayette Chemical Engineering graduates are doing that every day! So, we invite you to join our department and one day take your place as a “Master of Chemicals” thus allowing you to also make a difference.

The UL Lafayette department of chemical engineering is made of world-class faculty members with a love of teaching and a passion for researching innovative solutions to complex problems. They invite our students to get involved in our cutting-edge research through jobs and special learning opportunities. Also, our students enjoy opportunities to work while in school for industries via paid internships and cooperative education jobs hosted by companies from around the globe, such as Hershey, Citgo, Chevron, Pfizer, Phillips, Monsanto, BASF, ADM, Dow, Sasol, US Army Corps of Engineers, Halliburton, and the list doesn’t stop there!

The Chemical Engineering Jobs Market Today and Tomorrow

The jobs market for chemical engineers is very bright. For example, the Gulf of Mexico region of the U.S. is experiencing a building boom in chemical engineering-related companies totaling well over $100B in new construction. Chemical engineering jobs are expected to be in high demand not only in our region but worldwide. Chemical engineers often enjoy some of the highest starting salaries on college campuses. So, whether you dream to produce a green chemical in New Orleans or produce a fuel cell in Seattle or treat polluted water in Berlin or design a new chemical plant in Lafayette – we are here to help you design your future!


Want to know if this major is a good fit for you? Visit the Career Counseling Center, where they help you with your major decisions.