Information Interview


Iam so passionate about engineering. Ever since I started knowingeducation, I have always aspired to be an engineer. The desire keepsgrowing with time, and every day I find a reason to pursue thecareer. However, I am not that conversant with the nitty-gritty ofthe engineering profession. I, therefore, decided to find out moreinformation from people who are in this profession. I met ChristyStorm, a service technician at Agilent Technologies. She is achemist, so I interviewed her for insight into engineering and howchemical engineering is related to chemistry. I had also previouslysought insight from Gareth a friend of mine who is an engineer. Thispaper presents a summary of my interview with Christy as well asinformation I got from the other engineer.

Tostart with, I asked Christy what engineering entails. She told methat engineering is a multidisciplinary field covering mathematics,science, technology and practical knowledge that is applied tomaintain, innovate or produce items and structures. She said thathere are over forty engineering degrees, with the most popular onesbeing electrical, chemical, mechanical and civil engineering. Shetold me that the chemical engineering profession is mainly concernedwith analytical work, that is, a chemical engineer has to analyze thesamples used in the production of items and the processes to identifyflaws and rectify them. There is a close relation between chemicalengineering and analytical chemistry. However, Christy told me thatchemistry focuses on organic,inorganic, analytical, physical and biochemistry while chemicalengineering covers a wider area of study, spanning all types ofchemistry, physics, and mathematics.

Thecourse requires one to be good in mathematics, as there are plenty ofcalculations involved straight from class work to the field. Gettingcalculations wrong can mess an entire process, and even result inlife-threatening products especially in the case of medicineprocessing. Topics covered in the course are broad and varied ashighlighted above. The core classes are on chemical topics. However,apart from the technical units, the course also has social units suchas communication, development studies, and basic business concepts toensure an all-rounded professional.

Aboutthe fields in which chemical engineering is applied, Christy told methat the profession is applicable in various disciplines ranging fromhuman medicine, veterinary medicine, food processing, textileprocessing, manufacturing industry, testing tensile strength ofchemical containers, and water treatment among others. Virtually, allproduction requires chemical engineers. One field of chemicalengineering that she mentioned which I personally have a dislike isprotective equipment. Among the dream destinations of chemicalengineers, Christy named Mars Symbioscience, a global leader inhealth and life sciences products, and Aberdeen Authorized TestingFacility.

Iasked her about the type of work she does, and she stated that herwork is very independent. As a chemist, she is responsible for whatshe does. Supervision is minimal, as one is expected to have fullknowledge of what they are doing. In addition, the work requiresmaximum concentration hence disruptions might lead to grave errors.She has worked for other companies before, among them being the WaterCorporation, Thermo Fischer, Food and Drug Administration, and Perk &ampElmer. This, she said highlights how many opportunities there are inthe fields of chemical engineering and chemistry. I also enquiredfrom her if her work entailed traveling or she was localized in oneplace. She explained that although most of the work is in-house,there are instances where one has to travel to work on a project awayfrom their workstation. Sometimes one has to travel so as to getaccess to the necessary facilities for a particular task. Christy isoften traveling around Maryland conducting researches in variousfacilities. In one of her previous jobs, she travelled to Germany tocomplete a project on assignment by her employer. About hours ofwork, she said that she works between 45 to 55 hours of work perweek.

Soas to get more insight in the field of chemistry and chemicalengineering, she advised me to check the American Chemical Societywhich supports scientific inquiry into the area of chemistry. Theyhave publications and periodicals that contain detailed informationabout the field. One can also become a member of the society, wherethey get access to discounted journal articles, research activities,meetings and professional networking.

Priorto interviewing Christy, I happened to have a chat with Gareth, anengineer friend of mine. He gave me insight into the current trendsof chemical engineering. Contrary to what Christy said, the engineeropined that jobs are scarce in the engineering field. Only softwareand computer engineering are marketable in the modern society. Evenin computer and software engineering, one`s level of expertise playsa significant role in determining their marketability. Exemplaryprogrammers have a greater chance of landing jobs. Gareth said thatengineers work for forty hours a week. He said that although chemicalengineering is not as popular as chemistry, recently there is anincrease in the number of students applying to pursue the course.This is a positive sign for the course. He also added that whereaschemists spend most of their time in laboratories conducting researchand development, chemical engineers have a wider work area rangingfrom the plant area, laboratory, and even the boardroom.