Changing How We Promote the Chemical Engineering Profession | AIChE

Changing How We Promote the Chemical Engineering Profession

Friday, December 28, 2012,
9:00pm to 10:00pm
Virtual / Online
United States

Innovation is driven by people who are smart, creative and assertive.  One strategy for innovation in the chemical enterprise is to attract people like this to chemical engineering.  Opportunities for careers in technical fields are much different for today’s students than decades ago when many of us chose to major in chemical engineering. Our field has attracted very talented young persons who have gone on to outstanding careers in technology, business and education. The vitality of our profession strongly depends on our ability to increase the number of such students who will enter our profession and enhance its leadership position.

In 2008 only 4.5% of baccalaureate degrees were awarded to engineers (in Asia and Europe the fractions were 20 and 12%, respectively), and only 0.3% to chemical engineers. The situation has not changed much since then. The salaries of starting engineers are very good, and chemical engineers are near the top of the scale. So why is engineering generally, and chemical engineering specifically, doing so poorly in attracting high school graduates, especially women and undergraduate minorities? How does our profession win the battle for the imagination of young people? This presentation is aimed at stimulating ideas for promoting chemical engineering among the youth of our country. I believe interest in engineering will rise in future years because of the positive public relations associated with STEM education. It is essential that chemical engineering maintain its market share among engineering students; hence, we must keep the focus on the “E” first, and then brand the distinctiveness of the C in terms of interest, societal needs and career opportunities. And our educational institutions must do their part in developing curricula that focus both on the “fundamentals” (and redefining them as technologies emerge) and “creativity” with more emphasis on innovative thinking.

Related Profiles