As was foretold, we've added advertisements to the forums! If you have questions, or if you encounter any bugs, please visit this thread: https://forums.penny-arcade.com/discussion/240191/forum-advertisement-faq-and-reports-thread/
Options

Chemical Engineering vs Metallurgical and Materials Engineering

Casually HardcoreCasually Hardcore Once an Asshole. Trying to be better.Registered User regular
edited June 2009 in Help / Advice Forum
Well I'm at the point in my college education where I have to make my choice of major.

Right now I'm half way between Chemical Engineering and Metallurgical and Materials Engineering.

I'm wondering if anyone have any experience in these majors and have any insights into them. I read the usual propaganda, but they really dont offer a real good insight into these majors.

Any help is useful, thanks.

Casually Hardcore on

Posts

  • Options
    UsagiUsagi Nah Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    are you trying to figure out if they're fun, easy, have lots of jobs available? I guess, what exactly do you want to know?

    Usagi on
  • Options
    Casually HardcoreCasually Hardcore Once an Asshole. Trying to be better. Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    Fun, what have jobs in the field, how are the jobs like, are the skills gained applicable to a broad range of applications, is one degree more valuable then the other, will I lose my mind taking one or the other degree, etc.

    Casually Hardcore on
  • Options
    RenegadeSilenceRenegadeSilence Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    "Fun" is entirely dependent on you and its pretty hard to make a recommendation because I can't gauge your interests. That said I go to an engineering school the majority of my friends that got an internship were in chemical engineering, considering that the oil industry is rock solid, but than again I only have Metallurgical or Materials Engineering students as acquaintances. Honestly I don't know much about Metallurgical and Materials Engineering but I would say that Chemical Engineering is more likely to have a more rigorous curriculum. Really though you should be fine finding a job in either of those fields as long as you have a decent GPA and as long as your willing to move. Talking to seniors and whatnot I got the impression that engineers fare pretty well in the recent economy, you will get fewer options, 1 or 2 job offers, as opposed to to 3-6 a couple years ago.

    Have you taken any materials classes? Chemistry? If so what did you like/dislike? What classes have you taken as an undergrad so far? Are you in the US or elsewhere? Freshman?Sophmore? etc

    You'll also probably want to look how many credits you have going towards each major too. If you don't mind sharing which school you got to someone might have more advice to give.

    RenegadeSilence on
  • Options
    VeritasVRVeritasVR Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    I suppose I can answer this question, having earned that last one and doing the middle. They're all similar, indeed. You could probably get a job asking for any of those three, with a degree from any of those three.

    Metallurgy is actually grouped in with Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) at most places, which covers metallurgical topics quite frequently. A B.S. in "Metallurgical Engineering" specifically is probably too limiting in your choices to study. Although if you went for a specialization or masters in that area, that's fine. In the same way with nuclear engineering, a lot of the older generation is retiring and young people are needed even though the job market is smaller. Anecdote considered, most metallurgical engineering jobs are not very glamorous or coming out with new things all the time. It's true that MSE may limit your overall job options, but it also opens up ones that do require that specialization. In terms of specialization to me it would go:

    College degree --> Engineering degree --> Chem or Mech Eng. --> Mat Sci Eng. --> Metallurgical Eng.

    Materials Science usually has metallurgy for a lot of your studies, because it's typically the most intuitive and easiest to wrap your head around at the beginning. However, you still need to (pretend) to know thermodynamics and structural transformations, which are not easy topics. You could take more classes in design which is math/physics heavy, or in analysis which features more chemistry. This stuff isn't all theoretical either; you will be looking at pictures, x-ray scans, microscopic images, and crystal structures in lab. I don't know about other fields, but I believe MSE has more qualitative applications than usual. Failure analysis is also a really cool aspect too; reverse engineering something that catastrophically exploded is one of the more interesting things you could do.

    A broad study of MSE also feature ceramics, polymers, biomaterials, electronics... not just metallurgy. Even though MSE is a small field of engineering, it's so very very broad. All the specializations in MSE have their own little quirks, but you will fill a role that Chemical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering does not cross into very often. I find that those guys did a lot more theoretical math than I was comfortable with.

    If you post your curriculum, I might be able to tell you what you're in for.

    VeritasVR on
    CoH_infantry.jpg
    Let 'em eat fucking pineapples!
  • Options
    Casually HardcoreCasually Hardcore Once an Asshole. Trying to be better. Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    I had taken a couple of chemistry classes, and I loved them. I havent taken any materials classes. What's making me hesitant on taking the Chem E. program is because I hear it's a nightmare degree at this university. Also, my greatest fear in life is ending up behind a desk.

    Here's the flowchart for Metallurgical and Materials Engineering program:

    http://metallurgy.mines.edu/Pdf%20files/Flowchart%20Aug%202004_05.pdf

    and here's a list of classes for Chemical Engineering (this is a bit dated, and I cant get a current listing due to website issues):

    http://chemistry.mines.edu/content/Undergraduate_Chemistry_Track.pdf

    Casually Hardcore on
  • Options
    OdiniousOdinious regular
    edited June 2009
    There is a pretty large chance that you will end up being a desk jockey as an engineer. And this coming from a person with the title of "Field Engineer" who spends about 95% of the time at a desk.

    Odinious on
  • Options
    VeritasVRVeritasVR Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    I had taken a couple of chemistry classes, and I loved them. I havent taken any materials classes. What's making me hesitant on taking the Chem E. program is because I hear it's a nightmare degree at this university. Also, my greatest fear in life is ending up behind a desk.

    Here's the flowchart for Metallurgical and Materials Engineering program:

    http://metallurgy.mines.edu/Pdf%20files/Flowchart%20Aug%202004_05.pdf

    and here's a list of classes for Chemical Engineering (this is a bit dated, and I cant get a current listing due to website issues):

    http://chemistry.mines.edu/content/Undergraduate_Chemistry_Track.pdf

    Yeah, Chem Eng at most universities is a nightmare. And coming from me, that says a lot.

    Notice how that route goes from hardcore bio/analytical/physical chemistry and jumps into research. If you're not incredibly theoretical, that's a rough path to take. It's almost like the major of "Physics" or "Chemistry", except there's some analysis and processing classes.

    Your university has Materials and Metallurgical Engineering as one major. From the classes listed, I'm not sure what electives you get to choose. I like the fact that you guys have the basic materials classes (structures, thermo, transport) and basic metallurgy classes (micro, phases) regardless of your electives. This is how I went through too. I'd imagine that's why they keep the word "Metallurgical" in the major, even though "Materials Science" at other places has a ton of metallurgy too.

    The chemistry in metals and ceramics is, in my opinion of course, easier than the organic side. You'll probably get more into the macro structure of chemistry in your MME major, which is more touch-n-feel based than interactions on the atomic scale in Chem E. I liked it because I knew big solid sturdy metals weren't going to spontaneously explode in my face just because the Gibbs Free Energy was greater than zero. You'll be more like "When metal gets hot, it melts. Fun things occur."

    So the key here is to pay attention to the electives. This can determine if you want to study other forms of materials. It seems like (unless I'm reading it wrong) that you have more options here than with Chem E.
    Odinious wrote: »
    There is a pretty large chance that you will end up being a desk jockey as an engineer. And this coming from a person with the title of "Field Engineer" who spends about 95% of the time at a desk.

    I think this is entirely anecdotal. Sure, you will have a desk and a computer to write reports and check emails. In a manufacturing environment, you may spend a lot of time in the processing area or quality lab. In R&D, you may spend a lot of time doing design work in a testing lab. Meetings and desks and bosses and paperwork and shit like that is all part of the job, or any job really. If you want to avoid some of it, keep to the academic setting and go for more education.

    VeritasVR on
    CoH_infantry.jpg
    Let 'em eat fucking pineapples!
  • Options
    Casually HardcoreCasually Hardcore Once an Asshole. Trying to be better. Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    Here's the Universities Catalog (for last academic year), their MMSE section starts on page 117

    http://inside.mines.edu/publications/bulletin/bulletin2008/2008-2009_undergraduate.pdf

    I was recently told that MMSE is halfway between mechanical and chemical engineering, is this a true statement?

    One last question;

    Is MMSE hands on?

    Casually Hardcore on
  • Options
    VeritasVRVeritasVR Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    I was recently told that MMSE is halfway between mechanical and chemical engineering, is this a true statement?

    Yes, it is true. However, it's not just half of one curriculum and half of the other. Because:
    VeritasVR wrote: »
    ... you will fill a role that Chemical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering does not cross into very often. I find that those guys did a lot more theoretical math than I was comfortable with.

    From that catalog, it appears that your courses have a lot of down-to-earth engineering. This is so important nowadays because a lot of universities are getting carried away with innovation and "the latest craze" when they don't even understand the basics. You have stuff like:
    MME Focus Areas: There are three Focus Areas within
    the Metallurgical and Materials Engineering curriculum.
    These are
    1. Physicochemical Processing of Materials
    2. Physical and Manufacturing Metallurgy
    3. Ceramic, Ionic & Electronic Materials
    4. Materials Engineering

    First of all, unless I'm missing something, three is not 4. If Materials Engineering is separate, I don't think ceramic or electronic materials should fall under metallurgy. Just my opinion on semantics. Secondly, these are good specializations. Very applicable fields that have a lot of depth in them already. There are several classes that delve into the important stuff like mechanical properties and electron microscopy. This is critical regardless of where you will end up. On the other hand, trying not to single out any university, but one department has these specializations:
    1. Biotechnology and Life Sciences
    2. Energy and the Environment
    3. Nanotechnology
    4. Technology Management and Ethics
    5. Information Science and Technology
    6. Materials Research

    This selection of specializations would be great if it had more courses in basic materials science instead of jumping right into nanotech and biomaterials for just about every option. Trying to tackle chemistry, physics, and biology without proper training or collaboration is just asking for it. Especially as an undergraduate. Jack of all trades but master of none, indeed. This isn't too desirable when you've got aspirations in major research-related fields like nanotech and biomaterials.
    One last question;

    Is MMSE hands on?

    It all depends. Your labs will be hands on, just like all the engineering fields. There will be jobs that utilize your theoretical knowledge, lab skills, or both (rarely).

    When and if you take your intro course, consider what you think about concepts like crystal structures, stress/strain curves, and performance. These are something students either love or hate. Your opinion should tell you to continue with the MME major or try another option.

    VeritasVR on
    CoH_infantry.jpg
    Let 'em eat fucking pineapples!
  • Options
    MoogleGodMoogleGod Registered User new member
    edited June 2009
    I went to the Colorado School of Mines (by the links you posted, it looks like that's the school you're at) and graduated in '06 w/ a BS in Chemical Engineering (3.4 GPA). Also, I'm currently 80% done w/ a MS Chemical Engineering degree at the University of Utah and am working as an engineer full-time.

    In all honesty dude, if you survived the first 1-2 years at Mines, you shouldn't worry about the difficulty of the Chem E program. The more difficult classes (i.e. time consuming) for me were the required Chemistry classes like Organic Chemistry (sophmore yr) and Physical Chemistry (junior yr). The actual Chem E classes were challenging sure....however Chem E is a lot like math in that a lot of the difficultly is just 'getting it'. Once you start to see how problems are set up and how to approach them, you'll see that you can apply those same principles to a lot of the Chem E classes you take and things get easier.

    Also, something to say about undergrad Chem E classes is that a lot of the 'math' was Calc 1/Calc 2 at best, so don't worry if you struggled w/ Diff Eq or Linear Algebra because you won't see a lot of it (grad school Chem E classes deal w/ higher level math).

    The job prospect for Chem E's is also fantastic. I knew many people who took jobs straight out of college for $70k/yr. Job fields that Chem E's can work in include oil production/refining, pharmaceuticals, mining, chemical processing, etc... (and yes a lot are office jobs, but there are plenty that aren't)

    I had a roommate who completed the Material Engineering program at Mines and I know they have an easier time than the Chem E's do. Also, I lived in a party house my last two years of school at Mines, so even though I did have to put some work in for the Chem E program, I was nowhere near buried by it and enjoyed many-a-night partying.8-)

    MoogleGod on
  • Options
    Casually HardcoreCasually Hardcore Once an Asshole. Trying to be better. Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    Well I'm doing it the poor mans way and attending Red Rocks Community College for my first two years.

    Thank you all for all the help. It may just come down to a coin toss (though the idea of not having to take 3 additional classes is very tempting).

    MoogleGod, do you have any opinons on the ChemE. program at Mines? Veritas gave me a very good insight on the areas of specialization, which is very helpful.

    Also, MoogleGod, do you know what MMSE majors do for their field session? I have an idea on what ChemE majors do for their field session, but can you go in further detail for me?

    Casually Hardcore on
  • Options
    MoogleGodMoogleGod Registered User new member
    edited June 2009
    The Chem E program is pretty well done. Note, it's not top in the nation - nor in the school itself. If you really wanted to take advantage of Mines you'd major in mining or geology. However, compared to the school I'm at now, U of U, Mines is definitely better for Chem E's.

    As a side note, are you sure you can attend Red Rocks for two years (as opposed to only one) and transfer in (I had two Chem E classes my soph-fall and soph-spring semesters)? I actually took a class or two at Red Rocks and know that it's a pretty good school (I took a couple Biology labs up there - for a bioengineering minor), you shouldn't have too much of a problem difficultly-wise transitioning to Mines.

    I don't remember what the MMSE guys did during their field session - but I don't think it was too big of a deal. The Chem E field session had a reputation on campus as being the hardest field session. It was like 6-8 weeks of long days in the lab and long nights writing reports/presentations for 6-7 days a week (character building I guess, :winky:).

    If I were you, I'd call each of the Chem E and MMSE departments and see if they can arrange for a grad student or a professor to show you the departments/facilities (note: those guys are at school year round so don't think you'd have to wait until Fall).

    MoogleGod on
  • Options
    LeftOT73LeftOT73 Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    Veritas and Moogle have already covered this topic quite well, but I thought I would add in something that was very helpful for me in choosing my major and career path thus far. MSE can be considered an enabling discipline, in that its primary purpose is to engineer materials for other people to make things. This is both good and bad - it means you can work in a really wide range of fields with the core materials engineering curriculum, but you might have to learn a lot about the one you choose (as Veritas already mentioned, jack of all trades... etc.). This is a big reason why I am getting a PhD - MSE gave me a broad, solid base, but I want to get a better understanding of one particular topic (polymer physics and chemistry, in my case, because I love chemistry). The key in all you do with MSE is going to be relating atomic and molecular level behavior to macroscopic behavior, with the idea that eventually you will try to design new materials that behave the way you want them to based on what you know about them. As Veritas has also mentioned, MSE can tend to be a bit more on the theoretical and scientific side. ChemE is going to be more systems and process oriented (though this is quite general - I have ChemE friends who do drug delivery and other very scientific, synthetic things).

    LeftOT73 on
  • Options
    Casually HardcoreCasually Hardcore Once an Asshole. Trying to be better. Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    About RRCC thing, yeah RRCC have a really good transfer agreement with Mines. Basically I can get nearly all my lower level classes done at RRCC and start my upper level classes at Mines.

    Well, I guess I should take MoogleGod advice and just take a tour of the departments. From there I just flip a coin.

    Thanks for the advice yall.

    Casually Hardcore on
  • Options
    GameHatGameHat Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    Chem E. grad here, I've been in industry for almost five years now.

    The first thing you need to realize is that Chemical Engineering is NOT Chemistry. If your vision is of yourself in a lab doing research, that's not typically where Chemical Engineers end up. That is, however, sort of where I wound up - more on that later.

    Maybe not a majority but probably a plurality of Chemical Engineers end up as Process Engineers - meaning, they work in a plant - setting up, maintaining and improving industrial processes.

    My first job as a Chem E. was like this - pumps, heat exchangers, piping, very big reactors. Industrial setting - loud, dirty. Helps to be a bit mechanically inclined (as in, can you turn a wrench or take apart a pump). Also helps to be comfortable in working with blue collar guys.

    There's a joke about chemical engineers - that they're "glorified plumbers". This applies to process engineers.

    Things I liked about this - very hands on. Big projects, big paybacks. Very little time behind a desk - always out and about in the plant. The pay is great - usually at the top end of starting salaries for bachelor degrees.

    Things I didn't like - lots of plants run 24 hours / day. At my particular plant, every hour the process wasn't running meant thousands of dollars. So you end up a bit "married" to the plant. It wasn't an everyday occurrence, but I did get the occasional call at 3 AM ("God damn it the product is off-spec - get in here!")

    On the whole, I wasn't happy as a process engineer. So I got a more traditional "chemist" job. Turns out that the skills I got as a process engineer were pretty damn useful, so I still end up spending about a third of my time in the factory. Another third is product development - time in a laboratory, making new polymers. Last third is "technical service" - meaning I visit customers, troubleshoot their processes, work with our sales team.

    I like this hybrid position much better. I did end up taking about $5k less per year in salary, but I'm happier with the job.

    Anyways - if you like the idea of process engineering - go chem E for sure. Bachelor's is fine.

    There are other chem. E jobs - like the one I have. They pay a bit less than the chem. E average.

    If you want a pure lab/research job - you will probably need either an advanced degree in Chem. E. or something different.

    I work with one Mat. Sci. guy. He spends most of his time doing mechanical testing. To me, it looks boring and repetitive as hell. He seems to enjoy it though.

    No matter what you pick, go out of your way to get an internship or co-op (basically a summer+one semester internship). Most schools support this. THIS is the best way to test drive a particular field. That's how I learned I didn't really want to go into process engineering.

    GameHat on
Sign In or Register to comment.