Career and Research

Careers for Chemical Engineers

Chemical engineers develop processes and products that transform raw materials into useful products. Because of their broad technical background, chemical engineers are employed in a wide variety of industries that include: chemical manufacturing, energy conversion, plastics, biotechnology, pulp and paper, and semiconductor processing. Job functions include research, development, design, manufacturing and technical management. As a chemical engineer, you might:

  • Create new catalysts for alternative energy sources
  • Develop improved security techniques for detecting dangerous substances
  • Design pharmaceutical processes to manufacture life-saving drugs
  • Develop improved manufacturing processes that address sustainability

Most of our Chemical Engineering alumni are employed in industry or government agencies; about 20 percent pursue graduate degrees. Some enroll in business school, medical school, or law school. 

Opportunities for Chemical Engineering Undergraduates

Undergraduate Research

Access to research opportunities for undergraduates is one of the many things that sets the College of Engineering and its departments apart from other institutions. Chemical engineering undergraduate students can gain hands-on research experience under world-renowned faculty mentors. Some research opportunities allow students to work with a professor’s group long-term on a specific project can lead to publications and opportunities to attend professional meetings.

Research for Credit

Many faculty members in science and engineering at UCSB accept undergraduate students for research internships. Arrangements are made on an individual basis with professors. ChE 196 and 198 courses allow students to gain both research experience and course credit. Please note that a 3.0 quarter GPA during the three previous quarters is required and prior approval must be given before enrollment. To get started with arranging your own research project with individual faculty, please read this helpful guide provided by the UCSB Office of research:

Forms you may need to submit your petition to take ChE99, ChE196 and 198:


UCSB Undergraduate Research Programs

There are a number of school-year and summer research programs at UCSB. Summer programs tend to be more intensive and typically require a full-time commitment during the summer term. Start planning as early as possible, no later than January, for a summer program as deadlines tend to be in early spring. School-year, part-time research programs, such as the Beckman Scholars or McNair Scholars program, are longer-term commitments that provide unique opportunities for qualified students to become immersed in the scientific community and prepare for graduate studies. 

Off-campus, summer research internships are available at other universities and national laboratories. We encourage students to explore programs listed via UCSB Career Services, AIChE, and ASEE, and to ask your faculty mentors about such opportunities.

Education Abroad Program

The UC Education Abroad Program (EAP) offers study opportunities in more than 30 countries. The duration can be a year, a quarter or two, or a summer. With proper planning, your study abroad will not delay your graduation date. In recent years, our students have benefitted by studying in a variety of countries that include Australia, Chile, Hong Kong, Singapore, Sweden and United Kingdom. 

Important Information About Studying Abroad

Start your decision to study abroad by speaking to the Engineering Undergraduate Advising Office at least a year in advance. Why the long lead time? The College of Engineering is committed to helping engineering students meet the academic requirements to stay on track for graduation, and careful planning is necessary to study abroad. Visit the Undergraduate Advisor in the Chemical Department and/or the College of Engineering Advising Office to learn more about study abroad opportunities.

Careers in Industry

Hundreds of major industry employers actively recruit candidates from UCSB College of Engineering. Engineering students are sought-after by top employers from around the state and the nation. 

Industry Info Sessions

Employers regularly schedule information sessions specifically targeted to UCSB Engineering students. During the first few weeks of each quarter, look for the schedule of info sessions and other employer meet-and-greet opportunities listed on the Career Services calendar

UCSB Career Fairs

Career Services hosts large Career Fair events on campus during the fall, winter, and spring. In the fall and spring, one day of each Career Fair is is dedicated to science and engineering students. 

Student Engineering Organizations

Engineering student organizations are part of the active, vibrant student community at UCSB. Get involved with these organizations: