As we mentioned before, a ChE may do lots of different things. While it would take us too long to discuss all of the posibilities, examining two "typical" examples might help you to extrapolate (we will earn this word later!) to other scenarios.
Two "typical" things that a chemical engineer might do:
Your friend is a baker and wants to start a cookie company. He/She asks you to help him/her make the transition to the big time (since you are a chemical engineer, of course). You are given the basic recipe for the cookies (flour, water, sugar, eggs) and told that all that you need to do is mix this and heat. Several (OK, more than several, but we will only look at several) important questions arise with these new circumstances that your friend simply cannot answer by himself/herself:
This is clearly a very simple example, but it illustrates a few important points:
A more "mainstream" ChE example:
Ethylene Oxide is an important industrial chemical intermediate. A fellow in the chemistry division of your company tells you that reacting ethylene with air will produce this product. It's now your job to figure out how to do this on the production scale.
We could go on all day with examples (but instead we will go on all semester, we will just do the other ones in more detail!).
These two examples show how ChEs do process design, but a ChE might also troubleshoot an existing process, optimize an existing process, etc. (More on these options as we go.)
Identify tasks a ChE would perform in a given industry/situation
If you went to work for a ketchup manufacturing company, what might some of your tasks be (as a ChE)?