Chemical engineering is the study and modeling of systems where heat and fluid flow are coupled with chemical reactions. Examples of systems are the human body, ground water, the atmosphere, the ocean, and chemical reactors. Natural systems are measured and modeled in order to understand present and future behavior. Man-made systems are specifically designed to convert raw materials into more useful products.
Making useful products requires using mathematics and science to plan, develop, design, operate, and improve processes. Some processes are micro-scale, as in computer chip manufacturing, and some are large-scale, as in petroleum refining. Typical products from these processes include computer chips, solar cells, batteries, pharmaceuticals, plastics, synthetic fibers, composite materials, pulp and paper, and consumer products ranging from detergents to cosmetics. Chemical engineers find employment in large high-tech companies, environmental consulting firms, large commodity companies and small software companies. Employment prospects for graduates in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest are strong.