The degree program in chemical engineering was established in 1898 at the University of Michigan, one of four schools to introduce the profession in the United States. The University of Michigan student chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers was established in 1922. Chemical engineering, among all branches of engineering, is the one most strongly and broadly based upon chemical and life sciences. Chemical engineers use their knowledge of thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, heat transfer, mass transfer, reaction kinetics, and process control to develop processes that change raw materials to more useful forms. Thanks to a broad and fundamental education, though, chemical engineers can contribute to society in many functions, including research, development, environmental protection, process design, product engineering, plant operation, marketing, sales, education, law, medicine, public health, or government work.
The work of the chemical engineer encompasses many industries, from the manufacture of chemicals and consumer products and the refining of petroleum, to biotechnology, food manufacturing and the production of pharmaceuticals. Because of this breadth, there are many fields in which chemical engineers may specialize. More information on careers for chemical engineers is available at the AIChE career page, http://www.aiche.org/community/students/career-resources-k-12-students-parents. The program allows 12 credits of general electives, 4 credits of biology/life science electives, 3 credits of engineering electives and 16 credits of Intellectual Breadth electives. A student may use this elective freedom to develop individual abilities and interests, or to prepare to continue their studies in engineering, medicine, law, business, education, public health or public policy, among many options. The electives also provide the opportunity for combined degree programs or for preparation in fields within or related to chemical engineering such as polymers, pharmaceuticals, environmental engineering, energy and fuels, and biotechnology. Students can choose to focus their elective courses by selecting a concentration within their Chemical Engineering degree.
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