Like Numbers? Love Labs? Consider a Math or Science Career
If you like numbers or love labs, consider a math or science career.
By Laura Jeanne Hammond
June 05, 2007
National average salary: $76,770
Chemical engineers apply principles of chemistry, math and physics to develop new chemicals, applications and products. They play a role in the production of everything from plastics to medicines and fuels.
“Virtually every product you can think of, a chemical engineer has thought about some aspect to produce it,” says Mitchell Anthamatten, assistant professor and scientist in the chemical engineering department at the University of Rochester. “Here’s a way to think about it: You have a chemist who works in a laboratory and tries to understand how nature works. It’s a chemical engineer who takes that knowledge and sees how to put it to work for all of mankind. They take chemists’ findings and applying them on a large scale.”
During college: Anthamatten suggests taking as many math classes in high school as possible. It helps to have background in the basics.
Chemical engineering majors take classes in heat and mass transfer, thermodynamics, process design and control and fluid dynamics.
After college: Chemical engineers can work for petroleum companies, medicine developers, go into environmental studies, biomedical engineering or even become doctors.
The cool part about chemical engineering, Anthamatten says, is that you’re working to benefit the world through improved products and new materials. But before you get to that point, you’ve got to get the basics of math and science down.
“If you don’t like math, it’s probably the wrong career,” he says.