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Clarissa Flores
English 101-1413
Professor Lam
Research Paper Final Draft
11.6.15

From the young age of nine years old I have enjoyed solving puzzles that require

intensive thought and logic, such as Sudoku. Nine years later, and I am still looking for things to

challenge me to think outside the box. However now, I seek challenges from real life situations

rather than just puzzle games. Being an engineer requires a logical mindset along with skills in

math and sciences. I am proficient in these skills and want to expand upon them even further.

However, there are many different kinds of engineers. In high school, chemistry was my favorite

subject and something I excelled in. This led me to the decision of getting my degree in chemical

engineering. What motivates me to achieve this goal comes from my past experiences. My

parents have always been avid travelers and passed it down to me through our extensive trips

around the world. What struck me the hardest was when we visited Central and South America.

There was such an abundance of poverty that it was overwhelming; the houses are decrepit, their

tap water is hazardous and that doesnt even scratch the surface. I would like to do research in

South America where I can learn more about the specific problems the population is facing and

feasible ways to approach them. Helping these poor people to live better lives is my motivation.

To become a chemical engineer one must go through extensive schooling. Even in high

school, someone who wants to become a chemical engineer must take classes such as algebra,

trigonometry, and calculus for math as well as chemistry, physics, and biology for science. After

that they must major in chemical engineering and receive a bachelors degree. Typically, a

bachelors degree in chemical engineering takes 4 years, but some schools have a 5-year option
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in which you receive both a bachelors degree and a masters degree. Better yet, some

universities, such as Northeastern University, the one I plan to attend, offer cooperative programs

or CO-OP programs.

These programs allow a student to gain hands-on experience in the field. The school links

a student with a job that helps the student to learn what is being taught in the classroom as well

as building his or her resume while making money to finance his or her education. The CO-OP

program enables students to alternate between periods of academic study on campus with

periods of paid employment in positions that are related to their academic, career, or personal

interests. Northeasterns website indicates students that want to be placed into CO-OP positions

have the opportunity to work in many different types of chemical engineering jobs, such as pure

research, and process engineering. In addition to providing hands-on experience in those

chemical engineering fields, students can choose to CO-OP in a laboratory. This is incredibly

valuable to me, because having a CO-OP in a faculty research laboratory can be especially

helpful for students who are considering the pursuit of a graduate degree in chemical

engineering, where undergraduate research experience is a highly valued skill. I think these

programs are especially amazing because a tour guide that directed me during my visit to

Northeastern said that 90% of the time, these companies will employ students full-time once they

graduate.

Even before graduating, the pay while participating in the CO-OP program is sizable.

Northeastern Universitys pamphlet on chemical engineering gives information on co-op

salaries, stating that the median hourly co-op salaries ranged from $17 (sophomore) to $21

(senior). The median annual wage of chemical engineers recorded during May 2012 by the

Bureau of Labor statistics was about $94,350 annually or $45.36 per hour. Median annual wages
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differed depending on the type of chemical engineer (i.e. petroleum and coal products

manufacturers, and scientific research and development engineers.) O-net Online states that

the median annual wage is $96,940 or $46.60 hourly as of 2014. There is no doubt in my mind

that the wages will continue to increase as the need for engineers will never decrease. Problem

solvers will be needed in this world infinitely.

What do chemical engineers really do? The Occupational Outlook Handbook says that

they apply the principles of chemistry, biology, physics, and mathematics to solve problems that

involve the production or use of chemicals, fuel, drugs, food, and many other products. What

this basically means is that using their knowledge of science and math, a chemical engineer will

design new processes to manufacture chemicals or find more efficient ways of improving

previously applied methods of chemical engineering. However, there are engineers who conduct

research during the majority of their time working. The research part of engineering is used in

order to observe and develop new ways in manufacturing different things. As stated earlier, I

would like to do research in South America. There are numerous problems in South America,

such as contaminated drinking water in Colombia. It is my goal to spend time in many different

countries throughout Central and South America in order to find out more about the problems

each are facing and come up with feasible ideas on how to either improve or redo whatever is

causing these problems.

I dont expect to encounter too many challenges in pursuing my goal, but I do see some

that will definitely keep me vigilant and always looking to improve my skills. According to the

Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are exams and certifications that I need to complete and receive

in order to become a fully fledged chemical engineer, such as the Fundamentals of Engineering

(FE) exam. After completing the FE exam, it is necessary for me to take and pass the Principles
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and Practice of Engineering or Professional Engineering (PE) exam. Once taking and passing

these exams, I can get the proper licensing to begin my career as a professional chemical

engineer. The resources that will contribute to my facing of these obstacles will definitely be my

co-op experience at Northeastern, as well as tutoring and studying so that I can get passing

grades on all of my engineering exams. On top of this, I spoke with Thierry Thesatus who

advised me to look into joining chemical engineering associations. He believes that through this I

will be able to make useful connections, ones that can help me when Im struggling or ones that I

can get a job through if the CO-OP program doesnt work out too well.

There will also be challenges for me to face after becoming a professional chemical

engineer. These challenges are different than those that are on the road to starting my career,

because they apply more generally to all professional chemical engineers, and can also be

considered goals to achieve during my professional career. The George R. Brown School of

engineering identifies these challenges as learning how to synthesize and manufacture any new

substance that can have scientific or practical interest, using compact synthetic schemes and

processes with high selectivity for the desired product, and with low energy consumption and

benign environmental effects in the process, and develop new materials and measurement

devices that will protect citizens against terrorism, accident, crime, and disease, in part by

detecting and identifying dangerous substances and organisms using methods with high

sensitivity and selectivity. Meeting these goals can have tremendously positive effects on the

world. Developing new substances can eliminate the need for other more toxic, hazardous, and

environmentally unfriendly ones, and ultimately make life better because of it.

Another very serious challenge that I may have to face is unfortunately sexism. Sexism is

very real in the field of science and specifically engineering where a mere 18%-20% of people in
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the field are women according to an article by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

According to the Smithsonian.com there was an experiment done to test the likelihood of hiring a

woman for an engineering job with the same exact credentials as a man. The results are

shocking. Out of 127 science professors, 63 were given an application with the name John and

64 were given an application with the name Jennifer, but everything else on the application was

exactly the same. On a scale of 1-5 the average competency rating for the male applicant was

4.05, as compared to 3.33 for the female applicant. On top of this, the salary offered for Jennifer

was $26,507.94 when the salary offered for John was $30,238.10. What is most shocking to me

about this issue is that not just old and young males discriminate but so do the females; there was

no disparity in the results of the experiment. In order to avoid these situations as best as I can, I

plan to join programs designed to prevent sexism against women in engineering such as Women

in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) sponsored by the White House.

This specific program is designed to encourage women at a young age to get involved in science

and also provides support groups against sexism; this program is successful because women in

STEM jobs earn 33% more than those in non-STEM occupations and experience a smaller wage

gap relative to men according to the White Houses website on this program.

Science is something that has always intrigued me greatly. I have always loved to

problem solve and this is why I would be perfect as engineer. I cant wait to transfer and start my

education specifically in chemical engineering. Although nothing comes easily in life I am

willing to work my hardest to achieve my goal.


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WORKS CITED

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook,

2014- 15 Edition, Chemical Engineers, on the Internet at

http://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/chemical-engineers.htm (visited

October 22,2015).

"Chemical Engineers." Summary Report for Chemical Engineers. O-Net Online, n.d. Web. 22

Oct. 2015.

"Co-op & Experiential Learning." Co-op & Experiential Learning. Northeastern University, n.d.

Web. 29 Oct. 2015. <http://www.che.neu.edu/che/co-op-experiential-learning>.

Crawford, Mark. "Engineering Still Needs More Women." ASME. American Society of

Mechanical Engineers, Sept. 2012. Web. 29 Oct. 2015.

"Grand Challenges for Chemist and Chemical Engineers." Grand Challenges for Chemists and

Chemical Engineers : Rice University Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. RICE

Unconventional Wisdom, n.d. Web. 27 Oct. 2015.

Stromberg, Joseph. "Are Scientists Sexist? New Study Identifies a Gender Bias." Smithsonian.

Smithsonian.com, 4 Sept. 2012. Web. 20 Oct. 2015.

"Women in STEM." The White House. The White House, n.d. Web. 03 Nov. 2015.

<https://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/ostp/women>.