A couple of years ago, the phrase above came to me as I listened to yet another anti-“chemistry” rant in the media. The phrase struck me as one that would communicate the positive impact that chemical engineers have on their regional, national, and even global societies and economies. I don’t think I’m alone in saying that the process industries haven’t done a very good job of telling the world about the good we do. “Chemical” has become, somewhere along the line, a dirty word.
So if top-down campaigns are having limited impact, what about a bottom-up, grassroots message? A simple one like “Chemical Engineers are Heroes.”
We have probably all had the experience of having to quickly educate someone as to the number of products in their daily lives that would not (indeed, could not) exist without chemistry and the refining/chemical industry. Shoes, clothing, personal care products, makeup, perfumes, automobiles, paper products . . . the list is endless. Take a step further and think about all the advances in materials chemistry that make computing/electronics what they are today. And yet, “chemical engineer” represents something nefarious to many.
But it is chemical engineers who will be called upon to design and build new energy sources, new battery technologies, and processes to better clean effluent streams from chemical and power plants. We will be a part of plans to help bring food and fresh water to the planet’s growing population. We will continue to help improve the standard of living across the globe. We will increase the efficiency of today’s chemical processes, and we will help develop tomorrow’s processes.
So I considered a campaign to tell the world that you, as chemical engineers, are heroes. Something simple that wouldn’t be about anything other than bringing some positive attention to our education and careers. It isn’t always why we chose chemical engineering to start with, but it is why many of us are dedicated to the profession. It is why, up and down the halls of Chemstations, we’re all members of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. It is why we support the activities of the AIChE. We’re proud of chemical engineering and we’re proud of you, the world’s chemical engineers.
Come see us at an upcoming industry meeting or trade show (our web site lists these events). Of course our sales staff will be happy to talk to you about the latest features in CHEMCAD, but come by and spend some time with our customer support engineers and our development staff . . . and we’ll have a free “ChemE’s are Heroes” wristband waiting for you.