The importance/role of education in chemical engineering

Thierry Meyer
Journal paper

Chemical engineering as a skilled profession depends on the competencies of the individuals practicing it. Formal teaching of chemical engineering at universities only started in the 19th century. Informally, the subject has been in existence at least since Roman times. Highly skilled people have been recognised as a means to ensure prosperity and allow innovation for at least several centuries, as examples like the Bergakademie Freiberg show. It can be shown that skilled people flock to prosperous regions and prosperous regions develop where skilled people aggregate, modern examples include Silicon Valley and Northwestern Europe. The competences needed by a chemical engineer continue to broaden, e.g. sustainability, digitisation force changes in the education of engineers. The sheer volume of material cannot be covered in a tertiary study period and the speed of change makes knowledge obsolete very fast, which puts more focus on new life-long learning requirements. Modern, more individualised and context specific ways of education will develop, based sometimes on efficiency and cost of teaching and more often on effectiveness of learning.

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