Day in the Life of a Senior Chemical Engineering Student


By: Emily Joyce SCS Advising Leader

As I am approaching the finish line of my college career and preparing for life working as a chemical engineer, I have been reflecting on what I wish I knew as a freshman. Though I knew I wanted to be a chemical engineer as I enjoyed problem-solving, chemistry, and working through math problems, I never could have imagined what life would look like now as a senior in chemical engineering. To help freshmen starting in the major better understand what is in store for them, here is a summary of what a Monday in my life looks like.

I begin the day by going to my 10 am ChBE 440 lecture in Noyes Laboratory, which is about Process Control and Dynamics. This class is very useful because it reminds me of a lot of topics I worked with in internships with Process Engineering, which is a really common job title for chemical engineers after they graduate, and what I will be doing after graduation. After this class, I will usually go to either the Chemistry Library or the Main Library to get some of my homework done for the week. I like to get ahead of my work on Mondays, and I also prefer to do homework in between classes rather than later in the day after my classes. After finishing some homework, I head over to my 1 pm lecture for ChBE 431 in Roger Adams Laboratory, called Process Design, which is a senior design class where you form groups and work on a project which involves designing a process. My group’s topic involves designing a process for depolymerizing PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) and recycling it into other products. After the Process Design lecture, I will usually either do more homework with friends I have in the class or stay after class for the professor’s office hours. I find this class to be very challenging so it is always beneficial to get as much help as I can. For my last class of the day, I have a discussion for ChBE 431 in the Foreign Language Building, where we meet with TAs, our group members, and other groups working on our same project to discuss our results and progress. After this discussion, my group members and I will usually meet in the Chemistry Library to further discuss our project and sometimes do other homework together. Working with classmates is always beneficial because discussing your work with others can help you learn topics better and find any mistakes you may have made. Once I have finished my work for the day, I head over to my sorority’s chapter house to attend a chapter meeting which we have every Monday at 6. Another important aspect of college is to always make sure to maintain the balance between focusing on school work but also making time for friends and yourself! I  enjoy my extracurricular activities because of this and that is why I like to get my work done during the day so I have time to relax at night.

Although all years of college come with their challenges, senior year has proven to be especially challenging. The first semester I was focused on job searching and interviewing all while keeping up with my classes. Then, over winter break, I studied and took the Fundamentals of Engineering exam since my future job prefers employees to pass this and be registered in the state of Illinois. Now finally, in my last semester of college, I am preparing to enter the workforce all while maintaining my class schedule and trying to enjoy all my last moments at U of I!