So you want to major in Chemical Engineering…

Continuing on from my last major interview post, I grabbed two more of my friends (who both happen to be chemical engineering majors) to give some insight into their major. Check it out!

Names: Tyler & Mackenzie


Hometown: Rochester, MN & Davenport, IA

Any minors or options: Pre-Med & none

Future career goal:

M: ” I would ideally be working in industry as a division/project engineer upon graduation. After that, I would eventually like to become a superintendent/supervisor.”

T: “I plan to obtain a combined MD and PhD degree, then become a physician with an emphasis in clinical research.”

What lead you to choosing your major?

M: “From as early as I can remember, I have loved math and science. One day, a teacher recommended that I look into engineering and I was sold after that. The hardest part was choosing which discipline! But after taking AP Chemistry and doing a few engineering camps at Iowa State, I knew ChE was for me!”

T: “Chemical Engineering is very challenging but can be tremendously rewarding. It incorporates aspects of all fundamental physical sciences which can be applied to nearly every field, including medicine. Chemical engineers are not limited in their post-graduate options. Many pursue industry jobs while others may attend graduate school in many subject areas, law school, and medical school. The problem-solving education of a chemical engineer is beneficial in nearly any setting.”

What has been your favorite class?

M: “Marching Band! Without the ISUCF’V’MB I wouldn’t have met some of the best people on campus! As far as ChE courses, my favorite has been ChE 357: Transport Phenomena II. I really liked the professor and I think heat exchangers are awesome! But overall, they have all been great.”

T: “ChE 210 – Dr. Lamm is one of the many excellent professors in the CBE Department. ChE 210 is called Material and Energy Balances. The basic idea of the course is to use the fundamental laws of thermodynamics and conservation of mass to solve problems related to chemical and physical processes with inflow and outflow balances. This course is the foundation for chemical engineering.”

The most challenging part of your major?

M: “The most challenging part of my major is the course load. I am sure all engineers (and most people) can relate to that. Every semester I think that the worst is behind me but then it gets a little bit more intense the next semester. It keeps you on your toes and helps you to grow as a student and future engineer!”

T: “The most challenging part of being a ChE is the workload as a sophomore through senior year. Particularly in upper-level ChE courses, the weekly homework problems become very complicated and concepts from all other science courses are needed to achieve a solution. Also, team homework problems are common place in most ChE courses.”

What experiences have helped you the most on your path to your future career?

M: ” My co-op prepared me the most. I spent May-December of last year working for Grain Processing Corporation (GPC) in Muscatine, IA, and had an absolute blast! I learned so much about the company and myself as an engineer. I am looking forward to going back this summer!”

T: “During the summer of my freshman year, I was involved in chemical engineering research under Dr. Kaitlin Bratlie. I spent my summer and first semester of my sophomore year conducting research in biomaterials which made me interested in pursuing research after graduation.”

Any clubs you are involved in on campus?

M: “Currently, I am involved in the Iowa State University Cyclone Football ‘Varsity’ Marching Band (ISUCF’V’MB), Tau Beta Sigma, The Engineering Ambassador and Mentor Program (TEAM), Tau Beta Pi, Lutheran Campus Ministry, and the National Society of Leadership and Success. I have also been involved a ChE Peer Mentor and Ambassador, and involved with the Freshmen Leaders in Engineering (FLiE).”

T: “I am involved in the College of Engineering Honor Society Tau Beta Pi, Engineering Career Fair Committee, Chemical and Biological Engineering Safety Committee, Honors Mentor Connection, and Lutheran Campus Ministry.”

Favorite part of Iowa State?

M: “My favorite part about Iowa State is that I am able to fall in love with it every single day. From the first moment I stepped on to campus and every day since, I have found something awesome to love, whether it be activities, the people, sports, clubs, or simply how beautiful campus is. Iowa State is home.”

T: “All the cool and interesting people you have the opportunity to meet!”

Last piece of advice for anyone who is interested in pursuing a degree in chemical engineering:

M: “My advice to anyone wanting to pursue engineering is DO IT! Engineers are everywhere and it is a great opportunity to improve the world!”

T: “If you want to become a chemical engineer, you truly need to love and enjoy math, chemistry, and physics. There will be many challenging concepts in upper-level courses, and if you enjoy chemical engineering then it will make them much easier to understand.”

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