What they do
Chemical engineers design and oversee plants and factories that process raw materials into useful products. They work on implementing and developing efficient processing techniques that minimise waste and improve output quality while also being cost-effective, safe and environmentally sound. Chemical engineers may work in specialised areas of chemical processing all over the state. These can include mineral and ore processing, oil and gas refinery, water or waste treatment, and even pharmaceutical or food production.
Chemical engineers usually work for engineering design companies or on site at process plants. They may also work in laboratories and universities conducting chemical process research. If you choose to work mainly in design, you will have to travel occasionally to visit construction and process sites. If you are a chemical engineer who works predominantly on site to oversee processing, you will normally work at processing plants in rural WA. Sometimes these conditions can be dirty, dusty and noisy, as well as socially isolating. Chemical engineers tend to work normal hours, but may have to do shift work on site or work overtime to meet design deadlines.
Tools and technologies
Chemical engineers use complex equipment for testing and measuring processes and materials. They also use specialised computer programs for drawing construction designs. Since the work environment on site can be hazardous, they are often required to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) including, bright and reflective safety clothing, hard hats, enclosed steel-capped boots, goggles, gloves and masks.
How do I become one?
Education and training
To become a chemical engineer, you usually need to study a degree in engineering, majoring in chemical engineering. You may need to complete postgraduate study to specialise in chemical engineering.
Most universities in Western Australia offer relevant courses. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information.