H I S S P E C I A L S E C T I O N TA K E S U S O N A B R I E F J O U R N E Y,
looking at the continuing evolution of chemical engineering. We start with reflections on the past (pp. 2S–9S) and continue to the present, where we meet a dozen engineers in different stages of their careers (10S–21S). These profilesoffer snapshots of where chemical engineers are employed. This segues into a glimpse of the future — first, with an analysis of data on where chemical engineers are employed (22S–25S), and then with an opinion piece on refocusing chemical engineering (26S–31S).
p as t A N E V O L U T I O N
I CEP January 2002
C H E M I CA L
BY IRENE KIM
hemical engineers are a unique b r e e d . T h ey ’re a small, elite group of engineers with a rigorous education, a thorough knowledge of chemistry, and highly developed analytical, projectmanagement and problem-solving skills. T h ey ’re t ea m p laye rs w ho are accustomed to typically getting little or no credit for the wo rk they do — which usually invo l ves anear-impossible goal with next to no bu d g e t .
But that’s about as far as you can go in generalizing chemical engineers. Given, many of them work in the chemical process industries (CPI), including chemicals and fuels. They’re also involved in newer, less-traditional industries, such as biotechnology, semiconductors, advanced materials and nanotechnology. But you’ll also ﬁnd them in other
Cplaces: intellectual-property management, environmental law, public administration, venture capital ﬁrms, education, even magazine writing (See proﬁles following this article). One of the founders of modern chemical engineering, Arthur D. Little, wasn’t a process engineer — he was a consultant. Jack Welch, Roberto C. Goizueta and Andy Grove, who became heads of their respective organizations(General Electric, Coca-Cola and Intel), all graduated as chemical engineers. So did ﬁlm personality Dolph Lundgren — in fact, he was on his way to an MIT doctorate on a Fulbright scholarship when Hollywood intercepted him. The history of chemical engineering is as diverse as the individuals themselves. Chemical engineers have been responsible for delivering just about every product we use — fromthe silicon chips in our computers, to the paper we write on, to the water we drink.“Engineering facilitates things that we take for granted in our daily life,” points out Ralph Larson, staff vice president of engineering at 3M (St. Paul, MN), who has been with the ﬁrm for 35 years. “Engineers are involved in everything from product conceptual development on the bench, through developing a processfor that particular innovation, to managing our factories, to managing the supply chain.” Although the youngest of the big engineering disciplines, chemical engineering is perhaps the toughest to chronicle. A ten-volume set couldn’t sum up all the important achieve-
1670 Robert Boyle reacts metals with 1752 acid,forming hydrogen 1738 Daniel Bernoulli publishes 1789 Hydrodynamica,which includesthe basis for the kinetic theory of 1791 gases 1749 Lead-chamber method used to produce sulfuric acid
Joseph Black discovers “ﬁxed air” 1802 Eleuthere Irenee du Pont builds a 1811 Amadeo Avogadro demonstrates thermodynamics of the steam – carbon dioxide gunpowder factory along the that equal volumes of all gases engine Brandywine River (Delaware) under the same conditions of Antoine Lavoisierpublishes Traité 1846 Ascanio Sobrero invents temperature and pressure contain elémentaire de chimie 1807 Humphry Davy obtains elemental nitroglycerine the same number of molecules potassium and sodium by Samuel Hopkins receives ﬁrst 1852 American Society of Civil electrolysis (and calcium, 1824 Sadi Carnot publishes "Réﬂexions U.S.patent for improvement “in Engineers and Architects founded...