You probably know what chemical engineering is, but what’s a chemical engineering degree?
The generic things that everyone has
At its most generic level, Mizzou’s Chemical Engineering program is fully accredited by ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology). This means we fulfill all the ABET criteria for required program outcomes, and if we’re doing the job right, you should graduate with fluency in problem solving, systems analysis and other chemical engineering concepts.
You won’t be quite ready to operate a CNC punch press out of the box, but then again, that’s not the purpose of an engineering degree.
Essentially engineering is problem solving, math and physics. Chemical Engineering is all of those, plus chemistry. Students tell each other it’s the toughest major in all of MU. That’s up for debate, but what is true is that Chemical Engineering is good for people who want to analyze whole systems problems and work with the big picture.
Think of it this way: A mechanical engineer can sit down and design a pump, but the chemical engineer is analyzing what goes in and comes out of the pump, the materials the pump is made of, the chemistry of what it’s pumping, the pressure and environmental conditions it’s in, and how to optimize a host of other issues; basically the entire system.
What an MU degree really means for you
We’re ABET accredited, as mentioned before, but there are over 160 other university degree programs that are also ABET accredited at a minimum. What does our degree program have to offer ?
With a campus over 170 years old, not every lab looks like it came out of a James Bond movie, but some of them in Engineering do. With the addition of a new wing to Lafferre Hall, we now have about 51,000 square feet of total lab space and a lot of that lab space is available to you, depending on what you do with your time here. Much of what a chemical engineer does lives in his or her head (or computer), but hands-on experience is always beneficial, and at Mizzou you’ll get it both in class and in numerous extracurricular options.
Career Services: more than a bulletin board in the hallway
Our Career Services is also here to assist you with job searches and other opportunities. That means you get to take advantage of our resources and collected wisdom, instead of just going at it alone. Prospective employers of all stripes come to the MU campus for Career Fairs, a prime opportunity for the companies to harvest the best and the brightest right out of college, and an equally prime opportunity for you to get face time with representatives from those gigantic corporate behemoths you hope to go to work for, all at the same time. To help you prepare for Career Events and just in general, we also host etiquette workshops and offer advice on difficult topics like salary negotiation.
So that’s good, but other universities have lab spaces and Career Services too. What else do we have to offer?
A college culture beyond engineering
Here’s the deal: MU is more than just an engineering campus. Out there in the industry, engineers don’t work in a bubble, and we won’t put you in one either. In the freshman and sophomore classes, you never know just what the person sitting next to you in class could be majoring in – history, English, biology, journalism, international studies, a confluence of ideas, experiences and motives that can help prepare you for life after college in ways you might have never suspected.
Naturally as you become an upper classman your courses will become more focused and engineer-centric but you’ll be taught by faculty who can think beyond their discipline and often collaborate with specialists of all flavors. MU has 7 colleges and 12 schools all on the same campus, from nursing to agriculture, making it possible to accomplish some truly far-ranging projects. That’s a true interdisciplinary environment.
Some people don’t think that it’s important to have a well rounded, cultural experience, but we do.
Some of our graduates work in the traditional areas of Chemical Engineering such as the petroleum and chemical industries. Others can go into fields like microelectronics, pharmaceuticals, materials, polymers, environmental protection, consumer products, or as managers in business, government careers and engineering consultants. And still others use their chemical engineering degree as a foundation for pursuing advanced studies in medicine, law, business, or the basic sciences — all without leaving the MU campus.
Design your own degree with emphasis areas
Even in your Chemical Engineering classes, your classmates might not be traveling the identical path you are. Besides the regular/standard 4 year degree plan, you can also earn a degree with an emphasis area in biochemical engineering, environmental engineering and materials engineering.
The biochemical engineering emphasis was originally designed to prepare students to enter the growing biochemical industry, but has turned out to be also an exceptionally strong pre-medical degree program.
Similarly, the environmental engineering emphasis was introduced in response to growing demand in industry for chemical engineering graduates who were prepared to work on environmental issues such as waste minimization, pollution control and waste management.
The newest emphasis, materials engineering, was developed as a consequence of existing faculty expertise and the constant demand for our graduates to work in this area.
Students in these emphasis areas typically take a slightly heavier course load than other students, so enhancement won’t happen at the expense of the core program. Upon graduation, you’ll be prepared to work in your specialty areas as well as in traditional chemical engineering areas.
Further practical experience
What will help set you apart from the thousands with identical degrees?
So MU can give you a solid grounding in the theories and concepts of engineering on the academic side, but what about engineering outside the classroom? Last year over 4,600 chemical engineering students graduated in the United States – that’s a lot of people hungry for jobs.
Being a go-getter means actually going and getting
Going beyond your degree means taking the personal initiative to get practical, hands-on experience. MU offers an array of options, with competition teams, student organizations and internships.
You can jump in and get your hands down and dirty right off the bat as a freshman with our many competition teams, like the Chem-E-Car, a vehicle powered entirely by controlled chemical reactions.
Truthfully, pure chemical engineering is a bit difficult to build a competition around. How do you compete in building a chemical manufacturing plant, for example? But joining any of the other competition teams is still valuable experience. For one, you’ll be working with students from every engineering discipline around, and you’ll gain experience in building a physical product from the ground up, securing material suppliers, finding sponsors, budgeting, designing, molding, wiring, sanding, welding; even butting heads with other egos, all of which can eventually help you deal with situations out in the industry.
On a more cerebral level, for the “leadership experience” employers like to see, there’s Engineering Student Council, Engineering Ambassadors and Tau Beta Pi. For chemical engineering specifically, there’s the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and Omega Chi Epsilon.
Other strong practical experiences are internships and co-ops.
Chemical engineering at Mizzou is learning to build systems in an interdisciplinary environment, with practical experience, and working with people whose job is to speed you on your way.