When rising freshman ask me to define chemical engineering, I often find it hard to give an explicit answer because chemical engineering is such a diverse and rapidly expanding field. Externally, I think chemical engineering is the broadest of all the sciences. Whether a student is interested in working with 100,000 gallon reactors, designing drugs compounds, saving the environment, developing new nanotechnologies, or even considering medical school…they will find a home in the ChemE Department.
What I found most beneficial about the co-op program was that it helped to narrow a broad field that can often be intimidating. As a freshman, I thought…“There are so many options…How will I ever know which fits me best?” On my first co-op I realized that I loved research, but didn’t enjoy working in consumer goods. The guidance of my professors and student advisors, and their eagerness to teach both in and out of the classroom helped me develop an appreciation for how chemical engineers can apply their expertise to other research disciplines such as the health sciences, renewable energy and even homeland security.
There is no doubt that chemE can be challenging…to say the least. I can recall many a night where I was tucked away in a corner of the library cramming for a test, trucking through complicated problem sets, downing Starbucks latte after Starbucks latte. I can say however, that without a doubt, the friendships I have made with my fellow students and the gratification that I get from solving a tough problem, whether it be on co-op or in the classroom, far surmounts any of trials and tribulations. You can ask (almost) any chemE and they will tell you the same thing. They wouldn’t do it if they didn’t love it, and the work is worth it in the long run.
– Emma Chory (Class of 2012)
When I decided to study chemical engineering at Northeastern University, I wasn’t exactly sure what I was getting myself into. At first I was slightly apprehensive, considering all the troubling remarks I heard regarding the difficulty of the curriculum and the amount of work involved with studying chemical engineering. My first concern was whether or not I would be able to have a satisfying and enjoyable college experience, or would I be stuck in the library every night studying while other students were off having fun, meeting new people, and experiencing new things. After five years of studying at Northeastern University and three co-op cycles in both industry and academia, I am delighted to say that in no way was my college experience lessened by studying chemical engineering. Even after many long nights spent in the library studying for exams and countless all-nighters in the design lab working on senior capstone projects, I can confidently say that I have no regrets about choosing chemical engineering and that I didn’t miss out on any college experiences. In fact, late nights spent studying for exams, completing projects, and getting homework done are part of any college experience no matter what you chose to study. These experiences, while slightly more frequent with challenging curriculums like chemical engineering, are vital to both your education and growth as an individual. And yes, there is still plenty of time to party, have fun, meet new people, get involved with student groups and organizations, and explore and experience the many amazing facets of both Northeastern University and Boston.
One of the major contributors to the superiority of the Chemical Engineering Department at Northeastern University is the faculty. Over the past five years, I have had the pleasure of learning from some of the brightest and most talented individuals I have ever met. The Chemical Engineering faculty at NU is comprised of a diverse group of engineers with areas of expertise ranging from polymer and materials science to drug delivery, tissue engineering, and microfluidics. The faculty is also extremely friendly, outgoing, encouraging, and helpful. The fact that a faculty with such a wide spectrum of industrial and academic experience and varying teaching styles can deliver a comprehensive and thorough education with a difficult curriculum like chemical engineering is a true testament to the strength of the Chemical Engineering Department at NU.
The education I have received studying chemical engineering at Northeastern University, coupled with the extraordinary and unparalleled experiences through the co-op program, have undoubtedly prepared me for any future challenges I may face and any endeavors I may choose to undertake. Even during economically challenging times and with a struggling job market, my education and experiences at NU helped me land the job I wanted prior to graduation. I have been working at a small start-up biotech company based out of Cambridge for over three months now, and I can confidently and happily say that my experiences studying chemical engineering at NU made the transition from an undergraduate student to a practicing engineer rather seamless. I am confident that there are no other chemical engineering programs that can compete with the education delivered through both a comprehensive curriculum and vital co-op experiences. I strongly urge anyone who is considering engineering to consider the Chemical Engineering Department at Northeastern University.
– Jason Crater (Class of 2010)
When I stepped into the classrooms at Northeastern University, I was a high school graduate looking to experience the college atmosphere and learn the most I could. I never thought one school could have so much to offer. From day one, the classes began to enlighten and mold my mind. I was learning about engineering from professors who had experienced things in industry as well as academically. I was in the heart of Boston, living the city life. I was getting hands-on experience with chemistry in laboratory settings. I was watching Red Sox games in Fenway Park. I was experiencing the working world on my own with the co-op program. I was running the Boston Marathon in the Charity Program. I was also trying to find my niche in the student groups within the Department.
My experiences with co-op and our student groups stick out the most when I look back at my time at NU. Entering the professional world as a co-op student at Northeastern offers so much more than just learning by the books. I was able to gain valuable knowledge outside the classroom, a knowledge most people don’t obtain until they’ve found their first full-time position. Working with plastics, batteries, and fuel cell stacks led me to where I am today – searching for a position in the alternative energy field. I can say the same for our student groups. AIChE offers an opportunity to learn about our field from industry professionals who have successfully begun their own careers, companies and life-long passions. Chem-E-Car enables students to have hands-on experience with the engineering mindset of solving problems. We’ve built cars that are powered by aluminum-bleach batteries, thermal electrical generators and hydrogen fuel cells and been able to visit a number of cities across the US.
NU has allowed me to experience the world that engineering has to offer, and it’s opened my eyes to the endless possibilities out there.
– Patrick M. McMahon (Class of 2010)
As a research manager at the University of California Center for the Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology (UC CEIN), I am required to have extensive hands-on experience with current research techniques, ability to work well with interdisciplinary research groups, and effective communication skills to all levels of management. I could not be more grateful for how the Chemical Engineering Department at Northeastern University has prepared me for this career path. Many interdisciplinary classes that I took, including Nanotechnology, Bioprocess Engineering, and Thin Film Technology are still extremely relevant to my current work. The diversity of research topics in the Department highlights the broad range of problems that chemical engineering can help to solve. The collaborative spirit of all faculty and staff allows students to work on cutting-edge research involving various scientific disciplines. I had a privilege to work in the Center for Advanced Microgravity Materials Processing (CAMMP), a NASA sponsored laboratory, where my Ph.D. thesis concerned engineering a nanostructured material called Titanosilicate ETS-10 for both photocatalysis and quantum wire applications. The past few years in graduate school were, without a doubt, one of the greatest experiences in my life. I feel very fortunate to be a part of the program and I highly recommend it to anyone who is seeking an advanced degree in Chemical Engineering.
– Zhaoxia Ji, Graduate Student
During my graduate experience in the Chemical Engineering Department, I was exposed to much more than just an academic environment. The Chemical Engineering Department offers an abundance of diversity that is welcoming and engaging. The communications and encouragement within the Department and student body has truly created a community of scholars. The level of research encourages the individual to strive for success and academic excellence. Throughout my graduate school tenure in the department of Chemical Engineering, I have witnessed myself develop into a successful engineer. It has influenced me as a professional and trained me to critically analyze the engineering challenges that I will encounter throughout my professional career. My experiences in the Chemical Engineering Department will forever define me as the engineer and professional I have become.
– Zhuhua Cai, Graduate Student