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Differences Between Civil Engineering & Chemical Engineering

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Both chemical and civil engineering have played roles in transforming and fostering the global developmental agenda. These two disciplines are varied in their scope and may be equally demanding in terms of schooling and practice. Mathematics and science are crucial for one to undertake training in these roles.

Chemical and Civil Engineering Courses

To be a chemical engineer, you need to undertake chemical engineering in college, which encompasses units touching on energy and mass transfer, separations technologies, process design, chemical reaction kinetics, material and energy mass balance, fluid mechanics and thermodynamics. These are grounded on chemistry, physics and biology and are more practical in nature.

Civil engineering course units may consist of transportation engineering, structural engineering, construction engineering and management, geo-technical engineering, environmental engineering, environmental hydraulics and hydrology.

Duties and Responsibilities

Chemical engineers are concerned with deriving and designing processes aimed at producing, converting and transferring materials. In manufacturing and designing processes, the engineer has to conduct research and carry out laboratory tests every step of the way.

A civil engineer’s role is to organize and execute various construction assignments using the knowledge and skills gained in the field to construct secure and strong structures. Therefore, an analysis of the location, site specifications and the guidelines of a construction are necessary to ensure that proper construction procedures are adhered to.

Place of Work

Traditionally, chemical engineers would be hired in energy, chemical and oil industries. However, the profession has evolved over time and chemical engineering skills have found applications in environmental sectors and firms dealing with pharmaceuticals, electronic device fabrication and biotechnology. Some of these applications entail developing processes to lower the production of environmental pollutants and designing of facilities such as those involved in synthesizing drugs by use of micro-organisms and enzymes.

Civil engineers, on the other hand, are concerned with designing of facilities that ought to withstand natural hazards. Their work assignments also include working on construction of highways, bridges, airports, buildings, dams, water distribution systems and tunnels.

Prerequisite Skills

As a chemical engineer, you need a keen scientific mind as the daily routine may involve analysis of tables, processes and equations. Excellent research skills are also needed.

A civil engineer’s main tools consist of of maps, reports, diagrams and complex charts that are used to construct a structure based on the plan. Practitioners play the lead roles in projects so they should possess good communication skills and problem solving ability.


David Shoo has professionally been writing since 2005. His articles have been featured in the UNICEF (Sierra Leone) and BBC online publications. David holds a Master of Arts in international journalism from the University of Westminster, UK.

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