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What does a chemical engineer do?

3 August 2017
You might be surprised at the answers

From large-scale infrastructure projects to small tech startups, the opportunities for chemical and biomolecular engineering graduates are vast. Find out what some of our alumni are doing today.

Create a cleaner future

Sally Rewell
Chemical Engineer, Sydney Water

Sally Rewell graduated high school with a passion for maths and chemistry. She chose to study chemical and biomolecular engineering because it catered to those skills, but more importantly because she wanted to help tackle global issues.

When I was finishing up high school, we were in the middle of a drought and the water supply for Sydney was quite scarce. Humans in general are having a huge, negative affect on climate change, so I wanted a career where I could have a positive impact on those environmental issues,” says Sally.

After graduating from the University of Sydney, Sally was accepted into Sydney Water’s four year graduate program where she received extensive technical training. As a chemical engineer at Sydney Water, Sally is now involved in providing safe and high-quality drinking water, removing wastewater and preserving our rivers and beaches.

Recently, Sally’s role has shifted more towards team leadership and project management. She has been working with consultants to discuss future expansion plans of the wastewater treatment plant in West Hornsby.

“When you start your career it’s important that you have not only the technical knowledge, but also the soft skills such as leadership, teamwork, project management and collaboration. The degree encompasses all of this, which has certainly helped me in my career moving forward,” says Sally.


Launch a start-up

Dr Ali Fathi
Co-founder, Trimph Gel

The groundbreaking research in chemical and biomolecular engineering can often open opportunities to commercialise new technologies for businesses and consumers.

Dr Ali Fathi’s Phd research at the University of Sydney helped him develop a unique gel that can be injected into the body to help regenerate damaged tissue such as bones and cartilage. The properties of this biomaterial make it revolutionary in injury treatment and prevention. Equipped with a distinctive biomedical product, Dr Fathi co-founded Trimph Gel alongside fellow chemical and biomolecular engineering graduate, Terence Abrams.

In true start-up fashion, the pair have now transformed an old warehouse into a clean room production facility in the heart of Alexandria. From there Dr Fathi will press on with getting Trimph gel to market, perhaps continuing the same fast pace of success he has already achieved in reaching human trials in less than five years.

Farid Mirmohseni
Co-founder, WipeHero

At the age of 23, PhD candidate Farid Mirmohseni used his studies to develop an environmentally sustainable method of car washing. His new start up, WipeHero, is now being deemed as 'Uber for Car washing’. Farid has chemically engineered a completely waterless and mobile cleaning agent to wash cars. The portability of this agent means that people can have their cars cleaned wherever they like. The start-up is further supported by a mobile app that allows people to request a ‘hero’ to come to them for their car washing needs.

"Our technology saves over 200 litres of water wasted with every car washed," Farid says. "We have saved over one million litres of water. It's about saving the environment by protecting our natural resources and creating a sustainable business," says Farid.

Today, Farid is managing WipeHero operations in Sydney and Melbourne, with plans to expand into United States.


Think outside the box

Renee Noble
Software Engineer, Data61

A career in coding wasn't the plan for this chemical and biomolecular engineering student. With an aptitude for maths, chemistry, physics, biology and creative thinking, Renee Noble decided do a double degree in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and Science.

"When I got to uni, I discovered computer science and was glad I had that flexibility to add it to my science degree. I took up some computer science subjects and persevered, even though everyone else had a lot more programming experience than I did. Eventually I caught up, climbed to the top of some of the classes and now I work for Data61–CSIRO because of it," says Renee.

Renee's career is a testament to the unpredictable nature of career paths, and the importance of flexible learning initiatives such as the Flexible First Year Program