I'm Interested in Chemistry But I Don't Know If It's A Good Fit

Hi, I am Raksha . I have written my Jee Main and Hsc this year. I am confused between chemical engineering and computer science. I have an interest in chemistry particularly. Could you please advise me regarding the job prospects, pay and type of work that needs to be done in chemical engineering. Also, can one have a desk job or is it all factory based? And is it suitable for girls? Thanks.
posted by Raksha, Mumbai on May 5, 2014

Answer by Suniti Bidikar

Everyone is confused at such cross roads in life but don't worry I will try to give you picture about chemical engineering.

Firstly chemistry is science and chemical engineering is how to engineer that science, which means how to make these chemicals behave in a way you want , to get useful materials.

One studies chemistry , all three,  in initial years but later on once chemical engineering subjects start they are mathematical . Also you need to be good in Maths and have aptitude for mathematical derivations. You do not engineer the molecules but engineer their behavior .

A career in chemical engineering has many avenues namely work in 1)R& D, 2)pilot plants which are small scale replicas of big plants where in all the necessary engineering data is derived for scaling up. Simulation studies are also conducted as and when required.3) Design -- this is a purely desk job in an engineering consultancy organization where it is termed as process  engineering . This work also involves lot of simulation work using latest softwares  4) shop floor but here again chemical engineers do not do routine production jobs but mostly trouble shooting and modifications required in the actual plant based on engineering calculations. 

An other off shoot is safety engineering.

I have worked in all these 4 main areas and being a lady I had no problem what so ever. At times I had taken permission to stay back in second shift too as I wanted to see the completion of certain reaction procedures. If you ask for concessions you miss on many important technical aspects. I had even climbed monkey ladders to go to the top along with my male colleagues . This is not to give an account of my achievements but to impress on you that gender doesn't matter.

What matters is your willingness to put in hard work , not asking for any concessions being a girl, commitment to the work and responsibility coming with it and lastly a passion for profession 

I hope I have clarified your doubts. Please feel free to post any other query if you have.

Good luck,

Suniti