Vincent Ly '19
Most ChemE students will tell you, "I initially chose chemical engineering because I liked chemistry and I was good at math." And I would be lying if I told you that I didn't do the same. It wasn't until my first internship that I fell in love with ChemE and decided to commit 110% of my efforts. It was then that I realized how impactful the philosophy and education in studying chemical engineering is in making a difference. When you take shorter showers, you save maybe 5 gallons of water per day. When your plant is consuming 100s of thousands of gallons per day of water to manufacture products that people depend on, like medicine, food, solar cells, paper, etc., you have the opportunity to use your brain, think up a better solution, make even a modest 1% increase in efficiency, and save 1000 gallons of water per day. Chemical engineering is more than just chemistry and math, it is a means to making a difference.
UW ChemE is more than just a major. It is a family. The cohort is small enough where you will get to know everyone in your class. And the faculty and staff are simply amazing. They are always there to lend a helping hand.
I am proud of what I've done while studying chemical engineering. I interned at Pacific Northwest National Lab where I studied the composition of certain zeolites to understand their catalytic capabilities of converting light alcohols into olefins and fuels. I worked a summer at a chemical manufacturing plant in LaSalle, Illinois called Carus Corporation that produces permanganate for air purification and waste water treatment. And now (April '18) I'm taking a quarter away from school to do a 6 month coop at International Paper in Springfield, Oregon to help make containerboard (1700 tons per day!!). I'm grateful to have been given these opportunities to really apply the skills I've learned in school in real-world applications. And these are all really cool things! But I couldn't have done it without the people in the University of Washington's Chemical Engineering department.
My advice would be to dig deep and think about your goals. What steps can you take today to help you achieve that goal? If it involves chemical engineering, great! If not, also great! Live life the way you want it to be. Make your own decisions. Get out there a make some memories.