Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Official blog of the Lehigh University Chemical Engineers

Professional Development

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All sophomore chemical engineers enroll in ChE 179, otherwise known as Professional Development. I have the class every Tuesday from 2-4 up in Iacocca Hall on Mountaintop Campus. As the name suggests, the course focuses on how to be a professional in the workplace and how to be a safe, ethical chemical engineer. Additionally, career opportunities are discussed in the class as well as applying to these positions. I’ll run over the various events and activities I’m looking forward to over the semester in the class.

Last week we discussed some summer opportunities, namely REU’s and internships. Two students who completed an REU last summer spoke to the class about their experiences. We missed class this week due to the snow but were supposed to discuss research opportunities here at Lehigh for the upcoming summer. Next week, there is a planned career services presentation about summer jobs and writing resumes. I think this will be extremely beneficial and will help with applying for jobs this summer. After that, we will study ethics for several weeks and then discuss patents, trademarks, and copyrights. I’m interested to learn about patents, etc because I really don’t know much about them, and understanding the rules and laws surrounding those topics is imperative for working in a professional setting. Following spring break, class discussion will shift to corporate culture, technical literature, and patent search. These topics will provide valuable information about working for a large corporation and help form an image of what type of career I’d like to pursue.

Moving in a different direction, we will look at pursuing high education in chemical engineering, basically graduate school. Minors for chemical engineering and a presentation from AIChE will also be covered. The following week, Professor Wachs will provide an overview of petroleum reginery and chemical plants, explaining how they work and what occurs there. This is in anticipation for the plant trip the following week. We will spend basically the entire day at Infineum Chemicals and Conoco Refinery. I am extremely excited to visit the plant and learn about what processes they use and how I can relate it to classes I’ve already had.

infineum For the last two classes of the semester, we will first tour the labs of ChE professors at Lehigh and also the Ben Franklin Technology Partners. The Ben Franklin lab is located on Mountaintop campus but is not run by the school. The lab provides offices and workspace for start-up companies and thinktanks. The main purpose of these labs is to promote the development of small business in Pennsylvania. The last class period will highlight the experiences and opinions of recently graduated ChE students from Lehigh. It will be helpful to listen to some of the things they’ve done and seen, and take advice from their stories.

I’m looking forward to Professional Development and believe the topics taught will benefit me well beyond my time at Lehigh. It will be nice to get a break from a chalkboard full of equations and numbers, and look toward the future.


Author: Ben Dunmire

I am a sophomore Chemical Engineering major at Lehigh. On campus, I am the president of Club Baseball and a member of AIChE and NSCS. Outside of school, I enjoy the outdoors, fishing, and any type of athletic activity. You can reach me at

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