lost engineer 246x246Has Chemical Engineering lost its way?

Have the Engineers creative juices been sacrificed to Corporation or the repressive blame culture, “better safe than sorry”, “I would rather get the sack than go to prison”

“To engineer something” implies a practical solution to a possible esoteric question. Is the missing Chemical Engineer really there under a different guise?

Has the profession let us down by fathering a breed of practical professionals who produce reams of paper rather than inventive things?

Let’s not just pontificate let’s look for where my missing Chemical Engineer is hiding.


  • PRODUCTION DIRECTOR:  Marketing tells me that demand for Polygen will double in the next twelve months, I need more capacity.
  • WORKS MANAGER: The existing reactor is sound, can the process be upgraded?
  • CHEMIST:  The method of Polygen production cannot be changed we will have to use the same process.
  • PROCESS ENGINEER: Arrhenius tells us that the only way we can improve yields is to double the existing reactor pressure
  • MECHANICAL ENGINEER: No can do, the existing reactor is the maximum size possible at the existing pressure we will have to double up
  • CONTRACT PROJECT ENGINEER: Fine I will get the enquiry specs out. Budget for £2M and I reckon about eighteen months to bring it in.
  • COMMERCIAL DIRECTOR:  What! That cost and time frame will put us way out commercially.
  • MANAGING DIRECTOR: Well if this is the best you can all come up with we might
    as well shut up shop now.
  • ENTER THE MISSING CHEMICAL ENGINEER: OK then, 100m out from our jetty the water is 200m deep, sink the existing reactor to the bottom, double up the feed pump pressure, the residual pressure will push out twice as much Polygen. Six months top end. Less than £500K

Of course, a silly idea, Health and Safety and Maintenance would kill it off in no time …………….. or is it?

Encyclopaedia Britannica gives us a definition of an Engineer as: “A person involved in the optimum conversion of the resources of nature to the uses of mankind”

How fitting for our Missing Chemical Engineer and what an inspiring statement to a young person devoid of direction, looking to enter Engineering. Let’s hope he did not look up the Oxford Dictionary definition first: “A person who designs, builds or maintains engines, machines or structures”. Or who took the more Corporate line from Wikipedia: “a professional practitioner of Engineering concerned with applying scientific knowledge, mathematics and ingenuity to developed solutions for technical, societal and commercial problems “. A good definition if ingenuity had been placed first.

An Engineer is inspired by creativity.

Please prove me wrong, is the Missing Chemical Engineer out there still?