Chemical and Biological Engineering
What Students Say
• What is it like being a chemical and biological engineering major?
• What are common misconceptions about chemical and biological engineering majors?
• What kind of internships and international experiences have majors had?
Note: This profile was written before the scope of the major was changed to Chemical and Biological Engineering. It will be updated once students become more familiar with the contours of the revised major.
What is chemical and biological engineering?
Chemical and biological engineering is an interdisciplinary field of study that involves the physical and chemical understanding of dynamic systems. Research areas include applied and computation mathematics, bioengineering, environmental and energy science, material science, transport phenomena, process engineering, and thermodynamics. Traditionally, chemical engineering has many applications in industries including pharmaceutical and oil companies. Chemical engineers not only deal with the nature of the process (i.e. kinetics, physics) but also ensure the most economically optimal set up. Therefore, this field of study combines a scientific understanding with a practical and engineering approach to problems.
It's awesome! Chemical engineering can be both conceptually and mathematically challenging -- but as will become quickly evident, the challenges posed in problem sets and lectures foster a strong and friendly 'chemical engineering community' of collaborative thinking and support that is unmatched by other departments.
A common misconception about chemical engineering is that it deals primarily/exclusively with chemistry. Chemical engineering, on the other hand, is much more diverse in its curriculum, and in some cases, the specifics of chemical reactions or kinetics are not even covered. Certainly, these classes can be taken in conjunction with chemical engineering classes to gain a more detailed understanding of the science. The curriculum for chemical engineering majors is most telling of the major. Seven core classes are required: Intro to ChemE, Thermodynamics, Bioseparations, Transport Phenomenon (aka "Pipes"), Core Lab, Reaction Engineering, and Design.
Being a Chemical Engineering major at Princeton gives students very strong analytical, writing and presentational (just wait 'till Core Lab!) skills. These skills translate very well to a variety of different industries. Students in the past have done internships in research, engineering industry, non-profit, consulting, finance and a whole bunch of other fields.