University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The University of Wisconsin Collection

Page View

Niles, Donald E. (ed.) / The Wisconsin engineer
Volume 48, Number 3 (November 1943)

Caldwell, Don
On being a chemical engineer,   pp. 14-15


Page 15


  For the whole freshman year the chemical engineer has but a few identifying
marks. He is tagged as such and
tossed into a general engineering pot and boiled for one year along with
every other frosh engineer. During this
period he is given certain basic courses that will enable himto take up the
more specialized courses to come later.
  First of all there is general chemistry. It is very fortunate for him that
he is privileged to take this course under
the direction of Dr. Sorum, a man with a gift for putting things across in
a way that makes you like him and the
course at the same time. In the lab the student learns how to prepare compounds
and how to analyze salts qualitatively
for their metallic elements and for certain basic anion radicals. After a
number of tries he also finds out that it is
usually wise to put filter paper in a funnel before filtering (personal experience).
His work in lecture and in quiz sec-
tion serves to give him an understanding of his lab work.
  Mathematics classes held in ancient North Hall take up much of the freshman's
time. The principles of ortho-
graphic projection, isometric drawings, and lettering are the other things
he must absorb in mechanical drawing.
  Freshman composition (English to you) is by general consensus the most
disliked course that the frosh engineer is
forced to take. Having to think of something to write about and then sitting
down and writing the damned thing out
will never get him anyplace in engineering, he says to himself repeatedly.
Of course maybe he doesn't realize it at the
time but he is probably right. (Ed. Note: I resent that.)
  Starting with his sophomore year the Ch.E. has to hit the the books in
no uncertain manner. Confronting him for a
whole year are calculus, physics, and organic chemistry. One semester courses
that he is required to take are quantita-
tive analysis, industrial chemistry, and chemical engineering fundamentals.
  One of the most important courses taken by chemical engineers is organic
chemistry. In a few words, organic chem-
istry is the chemistry of carbon compounds. A knowledge of it is vital to
all of those who upon graduation enter an or
ganic field-petroleum for instance.
  The Ch.E. gets a one semester introduction to quantitative analysis. Primarily
a lab course, it is a course where the
student must analyze a number of samples for the exact amount of each element
present down to 1/100 of one per-
cent by gravimetric and volumetric means.
  Industrial Chemistry and Chemical Engineering Fundamentals are the chemical
engineer's first introduction to
the department of which he is a member. In the former he learns the plant
set-up, the flow diagram of raw mate-
rials and the reactions that occur in a number of the foremost industrial
chemical processes. In the latter the student
is introduced to methods of making some industrially imt trtant calculations.
  Now he's a junior. This year the Ch.E.'s schedule becomes more specialized
as he takes up courses for which he has
had the basic training in his first two years. The only entirely new subject
that he takes is Thermodynamics where he
is taught the theory of internal combustion engines and steam cycles.
  One of the most important courses that the junior takes is Physical Chemistry.
Opinions of many to the contrary,
it is nonetheless true because the essence of chemical engineering is applied
physical chemistry.
  Also in his junior year the Ch.E. is given a heavy dose of Mechanics and
Strength of Materials. Three separate
courses are taken in this field, two of them being problem courses and the
third a materials testing lab. The Ch.E.'s
junior work is completed with four courses in the Chemical Engineering Department
itself. They are industrial chem-
ical calculations, industrial instruments for measurement and control; fuel,
gas, and water analysis; and manufactur-
ing operations, a course covering the machinery and theory of various unit
operations. A lab course illustrating the
theory of the unit operations is also given.
  Senior subjects are all engineering subjects and all but two of them are
taken in the Ch.E. department. The excep-
tions are a two semester course in Electrical Engineering Theory and Machinery
and a semester of Machine Design
taken in the M.E. department. Completing the list of subjects taken by a
chemical engineer in the course of his at-
tendance at the university are Applied Electrochemistry, Metallography, Chemical
Engineering Thermodynamics, and
a course in special problems.
  A chemical engineer's college work does not get him immediately in a responsible
job. What college training does
for the engineer is to teach him some of the theory behind his job and general
methods of attacking engineering prob-
lems. Before entrusting new men with responsible jobs some companies put
them through special training courses of
their own design. Others, usually smaller companies, endeavor to give their
new men experience in all parts of the
plant while working in a subordinate position. At present there are three
main functional groups of chemical engi-
neers: Those in plant operation, those in development, and those in design.
In peacetime engineering salesmen would
be included but due to the tremendous wartime demand for chemical products
that almost sell themselves (Now he's
bragging), the salesman has been pushed into the background. A chemical engineer
is fitted for any of these groups.
He is qualified in many cases to take over a job for which he was not specifically
trained because he has a very flexible
and varied background of technical work.
  The names of the men who by their constant effort and foresight keep the
Wisconsin Departmtnt of Chemical En-
gineering among the foremost in the nation are not to be neglected (I've
still got some courses to take before I get
out). Those teaching are Professors Rt a. Ragatz, O.  A. Hougen, K. Watson,
Associate Professor Altpeter, and In-
structors R. B. Beckman, T. C. Fong, D. Hanson, W. K. Neill, A. F. Pufahl,
D. Schilling, R. G. Taecker.
NoVreMBaeR.ke      194 thsfed1w5fte        en    rbe     ore    ndtetidamtrastsiglb
                 h    hE'
15
N 0 VEM B E R, 194 3


Go up to Top of Page