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    Ajay S. Satpute

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Chemical and Process Engineering Resources

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Category: Preparing to Become an Engineer
Question: 1. What exactly do engineers do?2. What are some mathematical equations that engineers use?
Keywords: what,do,engineers,job
Answer: 1. What exactly do engineers do?The word "engineer" means to design,make, or improve something. There are many different types of engineers. I am a chemical engineer...so I design or make chemicals. For example, at the first chemical plant that I worked at we manufactured (made) a chemical called polyester. Polyester is used in many different types of clothing. Polyester is also the plastic that is used to make plastic pepsi and coke bottles. My job was to watch over the chemical reactions and make sure that the plastic was coming out of the process as is should be. For example, the plastic that we produced was expected to melt at a very specific temperature (we'll say 400 degrees Farenheit). Sometimes, the plastic would melt at a lower temperature, say around 390 degrees. This would cause serious problems for the people who buy the plastic. My job was to find out what was causing this and correct the problem. This type of work is called "Process Engineering" because I was monitoring the process of making this plastic. Chemical engineers also design or make the equipment in which these chemical reactions take place. Most of these pieces of equipment are very large and it takes much education to learn how to size these pieces of equipment. For example, if I'm designing a plant that must be able to produce 100,000 tons/year of polyester, how big do the reactors have to be? It is a very difficult problem that chemical engineers must solve.You should also know that there are many other types of engineers. Civil engineers design roadway systems much like the road you took to school today. They also design drainage systems for sewers and many other things. Mechanical engineers design mostly machines. Cars are usually designed by mechanical engineers. Mechanical engineers also design other complex machines that are necessary in industry. For example, the plastic bottles that people make from polyester are filled with pop (or soda) by complex machines (not people). Mechanical engineers design these complex machines. Another type of engineer is an Industrial engineer. Industrial engineers design specifications for building. For example, how high should a shower head be from the floor? How far apart should one door be from another? Industrial engineers also handle heating and cooling systems in large building. Computer engineers design computers. The computer you're using had to be thought of by someone....probably a computer engineer. They also design other complex electronics. (Do not confuse a computer engineer with a computer scientist, computer scientist general write programs while computer engineers design the hardware). Finally, Electrical engineers design all kinds of electrical devices. Some work of electrical and computer engineers are similar. The electrical engineer may design the computer chip that the computer engineer uses in his/her computer.Realize that there are more types of engineers, but these are the most common. The jobs that each engineer does that I've described here are in the most general of terms. There are unlimited possibilites that each one of these types of engineers may be involved in. To give you an idea of how popular each one is....when I graduated from West Virginia University, the Engineering college graduated 75 mechanical engineer compared to only 25 chemical engineers. Generally, chemical engineering is considered the "most difficult". I believe that this is due to the fact that many people find chemistry to be rather difficult and a chemical engineer must be very good with chemistry.2. What are some mathematical equations that engineers use?This one's really hard to answer. Each type of engineer has thousands (maybe millions) of equations that they use all of time. The basis of chemical engineering is called the "Law of Conservation of Mass". Simply stated, it means that if you put 30 lbs of material into a piece of equipment, you must get 30 lbs of material out that piece of equipment. Each division of engineering has an equation that describes the very nature of that type of engineer:Chemical Engineering: Mass in = Mass outMechanical Engineering: Force = Mass x AccelerationElectrical Engineering: Power = Voltage x CurrentThese are some examples of what I mean. You can look around The Chemical Engineers' Resource Page and find thousands of equations related to chemical engineering. Perhaps more important than equations themselves is the branch of mathmatics that is important to each engineer. Most engineers use a branch of math called "Calculas". Calculas is used to describe "rates of changes" through derivates and areas through integration. It is considered one of the highest level of mathematics. "Rate of changes" are important to chemical engineers because they helps us understand how a chemical reaction proceeds and it help us to determine the extent to which a reaction will take place for a given amount of space. This is very important in designing chemical reactors. Mechanical engineers may be a bit of an exception to this rule. Mechanical engineers utilized a branch of mathematics call "Trigonometry", much more that any other type of engineer. Although I'm sure that they also use Calculas quite often.