I am a recent graduate from the Chemical Engineering Department at IITB and am looking forward to join the PhD program in Chemical Engineering at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities this Fall. To be honest, my decision of joining an undergraduate program in Chemical Engineering was not so well-informed. All I knew at the time of my JEE counseling was that this department is very diverse, unlike a few others which help you specialize in a particular field. Physics, Math and Physical Chemistry excited me, and seeing that Chemical Engineering offered a study of these subjects and not traditional Chemistry, I had a vague feeling at that time that I would enjoy studying these subjects. As a freshman, I knew only so much about any branch, and I believe it is fair, given our scope of knowledge at the time of JEE counseling.
To my surprise, the four year study turned out to be exactly as I was told in the beginning – analytical, involving a lot of concepts which can be used in very diverse fields and new and exciting at every stage. The kind of subjects we are taught here, although it wouldn’t make much sense to you right now, include Thermodynamics, Fluid Mechanics, Heat and Mass Transfer, Numerical Analysis, Process Systems Engineering etc. The initial years of Chemical Engineering curriculum are designed to lay a strong foundation of fundamental concepts, and the latter half concentrates on training us as a traditional Chemical Engineer, the lot who designs Chemical Process Plants and sets up factories and industries.
Now there are many people who don’t like to enter into traditional ChemE, such as me. For folks like us, the Department offers a wide range of electives which are more inclined towards study of new and innovative Chemical Engineering topics, the ones that usually lead us to research. The Department is diverse for this particular reason – it offers you a set career in traditional ChemE, as well as an opportunity to indulge in upcoming fields such as Biochemical Engineering. You can be a scientist, a technician or an engineer! The various sectors where one can find a career after Chemical Engineering study include FMCG, Petrochemicals, Energy, Electronics, Biopharmaceutical etc.
As far as the Department at IITB is concerned, we have an active student body under ChEA (Chemical Engineering Association), the Department Symposium – AZeotropy and the student-run Biodiesel Plant – BioSynth. The best asset that our Department has is the Professors! We have an excellent set of faculty who are driven by quality research and teach very well. There are many learning opportunities for students who like to explore various fields in the form of projects offered by faculty. I have been actively involved in two projects during my Undergrad, and I believe that has played a major role in motivating me towards pursuing a career in research. Students also do major internships at the end of their third year, in companies like HUL, PnG, ITC, some in the non-core sector and a few in universities abroad.
In the end, I believe you need to put your heart in what you choose to study. If you find a slight inclination towards any branch at the time of counseling, talk to a few seniors and find out more details about that field. If you are motivated to study what you have chosen as your branch, the odds of enjoying the course of your study are going to be in your favour. Good luck to all of you!
AZeotropy popularly known as AZeo is an annual Chemical Engineering Symposium organized by students of Chemical Engineering Department, IIT Bombay. It runs over a span of two days in March with a footfall of over 3000 from more than 100 colleges of Chemical Engineering across India. It is a non-profit student run organization started in 2007 primarily to cater to the chemical engineering enthusiasts by providing them with a competitive as well as learning platform. In Chemical Engineering terminology, Azeotrope is a mixture of two or more liquids whose proportions cannot be altered by simple distillation. On similar lines, the name AZeotropy signifies the goal of achieving a terrific, indestructible relation between the chemical industry and the curriculum for chemical engineering. It aims to manifest the very spirit of Chemical Engineering in young students from all corners of India. It involves a blend of Chemical engineering based competitions, lectures, exhibitions, workshops and many fun-with-learning events