Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Here are some typical questions prospective undergraduate students have concerning the programmes and admission requirements. Click on the questions to see the answers.
1. What do students learn in Chemical Engineering?
The Chemical Engineering programme educates engineers to design, develop, and operate chemical processes by which chemicals, petroleum products, food, pharmaceuticals, and consumer goods can be produced economically and safely. Products and processes must be environmentally friendly and safe. Chemical processes involve the use of chemical reactions, separations and biological phenomena to produce more useful and valuable products.
Chemical Engineering students learn about changes in the composition, energy content or state of aggregation of materials taking into consideration the fundamentals of the nature of matter and its properties (chemistry), similar aspects of biological and biomolecular materials (biology), the forces that act on matter (physics), and the relationships between them (mathematics). Chemical Engineering differs from chemistry in its emphasis on commercial applications of chemical reactions and separations and techniques for designing, operating, and controlling processes.
2. What is the entry requirement for this programme?
Students who wish to enroll in the Chemical Engineering programme must have obtained ‘H2’ (or equivalent such as A-level) passes in Chemistry, Mathematics and Physics, in addition to the minimum requirements for application to the University. Students without H1 or H2/ ‘A’ level Physics need to have 'O' level or equivalent in Physics, and will be required to take specified Physics bridging modules. If admitted, students are enrolled directly into the Chemical Engineering programme.
3. Is Physics important in Chemical Engineering?
Physics is important in all engineering programmes including Chemical Engineering.
4. What is biomolecular engineering and how does the Chemical Engineering programme prepare one in biomolecular engineering?
Biomolecular engineering represents education and research at the interface between chemical engineering and biological & life sciences. The term “biomolecular” emphasises the focus at the molecular level, either to manipulate or synthesize biological molecules with special functionalities or to relate the molecular-level properties to macroscopic and commercial aspects, which is a unique strength of chemical engineers. Biomolecular engineering will address our needs in bio/pharmaceutical industries and biomedical industries. The Chemical Engineering programme combines its traditional expertise in scaling up molecular level phenomena to large scale processes with the emerging needs in biological and life sciences and biomedicine to prepare students for the bioprocessing and biomedical fields.
5. What are the differences between biomolecular engineering and biomedical?
While biomolecular engineering focuses on the chemistry and engineering of biological system at the molecular level, biomedical broadens the study of engineering to medicine and healthcare with knowledge related to the human body. Combining with the traditional chemical engineering expertise, biomolecular engineers will be able to scale-up the processes from the molecular level phenomena and then operate them. They can also pursue further studies and research in tissue engineering, drug delivery etc. Biomedical graduates often find their employments in healthcare and biomedical industries, whereas biomolecular engineers are employed as process engineers in biochemical and pharmaceutical companies.
At NUS, students in the Chemical Engineering programme can choose to specialize in biomolecular engineering by completing specified technical electives and the final year research project in the biomolecular engineering area.
6. What specialisations are available in the Chemical Engineering Programme? What is the degree awarded?
The specialisations available for Chemical Engineering students are: Biomolecular Engineering and Process Systems Engineering. A student may choose to specialise in one of these by taking four technical electives from the specified basket of electives and the Dissertation (Research Project) in the specialisation area. The degree awarded is B.Eng. in Chemical Engineering whereas the department is known as Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering because of research and specialization in several areas including biomolecular engineering in the department.
7. How well recognised is the Chemical Engineering Programme at NUS?
The B.Eng. (Chemical Engineering) degree at the NUS has received accreditation at M.Eng. level from the Institute of Chemical Engineers (IChemE), UK for many years in the past. It is now accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Board (EAB) of Singapore. EAB is a full member of Washington Accord, which makes our degree recognized by all members of this accord. In addition, the programme is so well-recognized internationally that many US and European universities have sought to have student exchange programmes and other collaborations with the department. For example, the Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering at NUS is the only Asian university with which the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (one of the top-5 engineering faculties in USA) has established joint programmes.
8. Where do Chemical Engineering graduates find employment?
Chemical engineers may be employed in private industries, consulting firms or government agencies. The employment survey of our graduates in the past few years show that they are employed in many sectors which include (a) Oil-related Industry and Petrochemicals, (b) Semiconductor/Electronic Industry, (c) Chemical Industry, (d) Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Science, (e) Engineering Design and Consultancy, (f) Research Institutes/Centers, (g) Government/Statutory Board, (h) Educational Institutes, (i) Environmental/SHE Technology, (j) Financial Institutions etc. About 10-15% of our graduates are going for further education, either locally or to overseas universities.
9. What is the future demand for chemical engineers in Singapore?
The petroleum/energy and chemical industry is a key pillar of Singapore's economy being the largest contributor to the country's manufacturing output since 2006. As one of the world's leading chemical hubs, Singapore has attracted a plethora of global industry players to set up operations here. These include companies like Eastman, ExxonMobil, Shell and Sumitomo. Supported by the government's commitment to the development of the industry, the chemical sector is expected to grow substantially in both size and sophistication. In 2008, output from the chemical industry (which includes petroleum refining, petrochemicals, specialty and industrial chemicals) grew to S$97 billion.
Singapore has been the world's third largest refining centre. This refining capability has provided the impetus for the development of the petrochemical and specialty chemical industries. Coupled with this is Singapore's aim to be a world-class hub for the petroleum and petrochemical industries. Hence, the government has reclaimed a total of more than 2650 hectares of land from the sea as Jurong Island, linking seven islands on which chemical companies and oil-refineries are already located. Jurong Island is now in the world’s top 10 petrochemical hubs. In addition, 9 of the world’s top 10 control & automation companies have offices in Singapore.
With its world-class infrastructure, the government's commitment to the development of the chemical industry and a location in the heart of the world's fastest growing region, Singapore is poised to play an important role in the world's chemical economy. As Asia becomes an increasingly important consumer of chemical products, Singapore remains a strategic base for companies looking to invest in Asia for the long run.
On the biomolecular front, recent investments in biopharmaceutical industry and biological manufacturing capabilities in the Tuas Biomedical Park have significantly boosted the contribution of this sector to the Singapore economy. Singapore’s vision is to be the Biopolis of Asia, a leading international biomedical sciences cluster advancing human health by achieving excellence across the entire value chain. The Government has invested in more than S$5 billion in building up industrial, human and intellectual capital thus far, and remains fully committed to developing this sector.
Read the article "Chemical engineering: a diverse profession" at http://chbe.nus.edu.sg//images/Undergradute/FAQs/IES_Jan2013.pdf
10. How much does a chemical engineer earn?
The employment survey of 2011 graduates showed an average gross monthly salary of $3,286 for fresh chemical engineers in Singapore.