Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Blog Series: Alex

I hope you have all had a good week so far and I hope to give you a mid-week treat with a good read from Alex. Alex's blog was one of the first I started religiously reading! Alex is studying in the world of engineering and in all honesty I find it pretty fascinating what she has to say. Simply, because my idea of engineering is totally different to what I thought it was before reading this. I think you will too :)




Hello, blog world! My name is Alex, and I come to you from my blog, Only Human. First off, I'd like to thank Becca for the opportunity to guest blog. She's pretty fantastic, no? :)

I come to you from the land of Oz (aka, Kansas) and I'm currently finishing up a double major in chemical engineering and biochemistry. The reaction I usually get to that statement is along the lines of, "Oh, wow. So you're pretty smart then?" To which I respond, "Nope, that's just what they want you to think."


One thing you'll hear anyone who knows anything about any field of engineering, is that you have to love math and science. I can report that this is completely true. 



Exhibit A: One of my homework problems from my Transport Phenomena class. (Please excuse my tiny handwriting)
http://i879.photobucket.com/albums/ab355/aternes13/IMG_9485.jpg

And Exhibit B: A graph from my latest lab report on the thermal conductivity of solids.
http://i879.photobucket.com/albums/ab355/aternes13/graph.png

Don't worry, it confuses me too. There's a rumor that math used to involve numbers. I can't recall. ;)

One great thing about chemical engineering, besides the amount of math, is that the education you receive in college gives you a broad base that allows you to work in many different fields. You find chemical engineers in the petroleum field, the pharmaceutical field, working with plastics, in companies like Proctor & Gamble, or even in breweries. We can do anything from making beer, to optimizing fluid flow through pipes, to research and development, to creating entire plants for companies. Crazy students go to grad school.

Even crazier students go to medical school.

Me, though? I'm heading to the industry after I graduate. I've decided my interest lies in the pharmaceutical and medical industries. As someone who has a disease that requires daily medication, I understand the need for drugs, and the even greater need for new medications for certain conditions. In the pharmaceutical industry, chemical engineers can be found manufacturing drugs, monitoring the chemical reactions taking place, watching how much heat is given off or taken in, and monitoring the side reactions, among other things. We like to make sure things don't blow up. Or, if they do, how to fix them.


In the medical field, and up-and-coming field is biomedical engineering. These engineers do a lot of reserach and development for making new medical devices, prostheses, artificial organs, and things of that sort. Last year I did a research paper on a device called the PediaFlow that a group of biomedical engineers in Pennsylvania are working on. It's a ventricular assist device for infants and toddlers with congenital heart diseases. Currently, there are very few devices available for kids that small. The PediaFlow is a completely implantable device that is largely based on magnetism, and is the size of a AA battery, It's a truly remarkable device that could completely change how kids with congenital heart diseases are treated.


http://i879.photobucket.com/albums/ab355/aternes13/pediaflow.jpg

Personally, I chose the field of chemical engineering because of my love for math, science, and helping people. But, being an engineer is more than just that, you also have to be able to communicate well with others. There is a lot of work with inanimate objects and equations. Being able to translate that information to other people is essential. I have always been fairly shy and not at all confident in the work I do. That's slowly changing the closer I get to graduating. 



Don't get me wrong... there are days I feel like crying in a corner, days I seriously consider switching majors, and days I feel like the only thing my education has helped me with is playing Angry Birds. But the feeling I get when I hand in a well written report, or when I really understand what it is that is going on, is amazing. And I know the feeling I'll get when I achieve something during my "big person" job will be 10x as amazing.

I hope I haven't scared off any potential engineers. I remember recently reading that chemical engineers are some of the happiest people with careers. Probably 'cause they're not in college anymore. Just kidding. Mostly. College is tough, but the work will be amazing.

That was a lot of talk for a numbers person. But I'd once again like to thank Becca for having me, and I hope I didn't bore you all to death. Chemical engineers think we're pretty cool... but sometimes that's hard to get across. :) Much love to all!



You can find Alex's blog over at Only Human here. Thank you sweet girl!

43 comments:

Kristen said...

I'm with Becca, my idea of engineering was totally different to what it was before reading this Alex. It does sound so interesting and how do you get your head around the LONG equations????

Good on you for going into something you enjoy doing and I am glad the pharmaceutical industry resonates with you girl. It is true though I take tablets and meds and never think of all 'magic' that goes behind them to make them safe. I am glad it is people like you though.

Steph{anie} said...

Thanks so much for being willing to develop technology that benefits the population as a whole. I'm so glad there's people like you that enjoy this type of work; I know that never in a million years would I be good as an engineer!

Starlight said...

@Rebecca - Thanks for introducing Alex to us. I really like this series, I think it's a brilliant idea.

@Alex - Your course sounds very interesting and I think it's great that you're studying what really interest you and makes you happy.

juliannehewlett said...

One of the most popular types of engineering degrees these days is the one that students receive from Chemical Engineering. This is a very exciting and prosperous field, and it is a career path that is in high demand. Perhaps the best aspect of this profession and field of study is the great salary that students can earn immediately after receiving their diploma.


chemical engineering

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