Chemical Engineering


The ultimate problem-solver; able to use chemistry, math, and physics to make substances that belong in a science fiction novel.


It's an entire profession based upon mixing chemicals together and seeing what happens. Remember the days of building "volcanoes" out of vinegar and baking soda? If you're anything like Shmoop you also wondered what happens when you seal vinegar and baking soda inside a plastic bottle. You never got around to that one? 

Shmoop assures you nothing good happens. Your kitchen ends up covered in foam, and your parents ground you for three weeks. That's what happens.

Chemical engineers were probably used to incidents like this as children. They grew up enthralled with science experiments and creating new compounds. It's no wonder why they would want to choose a career path that lets them continue that, and without angry parents to boot. 

Chemical engineers can be employed by all kinds of agencies, government or private, to do things like create new substances, or figure out how to better utilize or purify others. They often deal with things like waste management.

Yes that occasionally means sewage, but it also means things like catalytic converters in cars that reduce the toxicity of the exhaust. Chemical engineers can be heroes to the environment, working with huge companies to minimize the amount of hazardous waste that is produced.

As you may expect, it's a lot of vigorous work in college, but the pay is awesome and there are tons of really cool applications for this degree. You could even work in food science, making a new type of bread that never goes stale, or ice cream that stays frozen at higher temperatures. 

Chemical engineers are wizards of math and chemistry, bringing both together to solve problems the world didn't even know it had. What nice people they are.

Famous People who majored in Chemical Engineering

  • Edward Teller earned an undergraduate degree in chemical engineering in Hungary. He emigrated to the U.S. to become part of the Manhattan Project. He's considered one of the fathers of the hydrogen bomb.
  • Robert W. Gore is the inventor of Gore-Tex. He has a building named after him at the University of Minnesota.
  • Actor Dolph Lundgren earned an undergraduate chemical engineering degree from the Royal Institute of Technology and a master's degree in chemical engineering from the University of Sydney. He went on to portray the fictional chemical engineer Gunner Jensen in the 2012 film The Expendables 2.
  • Michael Ruffin, NBA player for the Chicago Bulls and the Washington Wizards, earned his chemical engineering degree from University of Tulsa.
  • The Comic Book Guy in The Simpsons has a degree in chemical engineering.

Percentage of US students who major in Chemical Engineering:


Stats obtained from this source.