Has public perception of chemical engineering improved in the last 10 years? [Poll]

Questions about the perception of chemical engineers, the chemical engineering profession, and its sustainability have been a consistent and recurring theme on ChEnected's Reactor blog since its inception in March of 2010. The iChemE community was also polled. It seems that YES is the answer to whether the perception of chemical engineering has improved.

Our poll, still open and featured below, states that 23 voters believe that perception has improved and 16 people do not believe this (results as of September 8, 2010).

One fact is clear. The ChEnected community is very proud of its profession and interested in pushing for continued success.

Here are some examples:

Alessandra on K - 12 Outreach:

My own personal experience as a mentor of a youth in the Seattle area who has gone through the Washington State juvenile correctional system has taught me that forging theseunique, personal bonds with younger students can carry a much larger impact than infrequent, non-continuous forms of contact. That said, the same experience has also taught me that there are plenty of unforeseen issues and difficulties involved in trying to make a significant impact in a developing youth's life.

See the full post.

Leaelaf on Perception:

More than $400 MM was spent in 2002 in the U.S. to promote engineering through such efforts as National Engineers Week and assorted local outreach groups. Most of the effort was geared towards getting children and teens interested in engineering to ensure a strong pipeline of talent. It appears that there is still much work to be done.

See the full post.

June on Singapore's Efforts toward Engineering:

The good news is that Singapore is taking action. They are running their very first National Engineers' Day Exhibition in September to show middle and high school students the excitement of the profession. The event appears similar to our Engineers Week and the events in Washington. The event is broadly promoting the profession of problem solvers of global issues such as clean water, a scarce resource for the country.

See the full post.

Elizabeth on Inspiration and Progress:

Engineers and Engineering Groups have become more pro-active in matters of public health and safety. ASCE's Report Card for America's Infrastructure is a great example. This communicates to state and federal politicians (those who divvy up budgets) the health of the infrastructure that their constituents depend on. It also communicates to the community at large what the issues are--problems that they may not be able to see.

See the full post.

RC on Chemical Engineers and Sustainability:

The Chemical engineering community is addressing the subject by gearing much of the recent academic research toward sustainability, making it the theme of conferences--including the recently heldISCRE-21, centered on Green Chemistry and Sustainability. Many professional organizations are establishing Sustainability forums and consortiums.

See the full post.

If you haven't taken our poll yet, please do and share your thoughts below.


parish s dwivedi's picture

The chemical engineering profession have focused on nano technology and drugs and medicine wich reach to the heart of millions people of worlds. The chemical industry was known to its hazards but now it know to best mitigator to hazards. Every process in the world have chemical reaction or physical reaction. Chemical engineer is truely God.

May's picture

I find it difficult to answer this question. To me is yes and no. I think the Chemical Engineering Community has done a better job in the recent years in promoting careers and opportunities and inspiring the future generations in getting into the profession. It's evident in all the outreach programs and education camps across the nation. So it seems that the public awareness of chemical engineering as a profession has definitely increased. ____I do agree that in the sectors of advances in biofuels, biomedical/pharmaceutical applications and nanotechnology have definitely shed a few positive lights of our industry in the public eyes. ____However, the public perception of our industry has also been closely tied to process safety incidents. These incidents tend to shed a negative light to the chemical engineering, particularly the petrochemical industry. ____While it's difficult to quantify how much the public perception has improved over the years, I do believe that Chemical Engineers are making positive impacts to the society. I hope that as an industry we will continue to focus to reach out to the public about what we do and why it is important that we need to continue to fill our talent pipeline.

[...] Cox did not claim to be an engineer. His team merely completed an analysis using sound engineering concepts and produced a report of those findings. Isn’t that something that should be praised? Don’t we spend a huge amount of time and effort trying to get the public to understand engineering, to engage with engineering and to respect the work we do? [...]

Thomas Martin's picture

I think in the field of brownfield cleanup, the field of Chemical Engineering has shown it's strengths in that area. Note that the EPA Administrator of the U.S. Lisa P. Jackson comes from that field of work and has her studies in Chemical Engineering. Something to be proud of!