Figure 2: AIChE Growth & The Future

Membership for the American Institute of Chemical Engineers

A strong AIChE reflections a strong chemical engineering profession. This is because today's AIChE represents the profession as a whole. However, for thirty years after its formation (in 1908), the Institute remained a very exclusive organization (notice the slow initial growth shown below). Its "club like" atmosphere made membership desirable to those who could obtain it, while at the same time helping to avoid direct conflict with the powerful American Chemical Society (ACS).

"Enough already...go to the bottom."

Figure 2-1, (R3) & "AIChE Correspondence"

In the latter half of the century, its highly restrictive membership was lifted, and students were welcomed into the organization with open arms. By the 1990's nearly 70% of all individuals calling themselves "chemical engineers" could also call themselves AIChE members. AIChE membership therefore provides a reasonable picture of American chemical engineers as a whole. Therefore, that dramatic membership slump seen around 1985 should start worrying any prospective chemical engineer (see Graph above)!

"The Future Ain't What it Used to Be!"

Each year about 5000 chemical engineers graduate and replace the 1000 chemical engineers who retire. With the rapid growth seen from 1945 to 1970 slowing down, employment in today's chemical industry is not as certain. Only two-thirds of new chemical engineering graduates find full-time work within their first six months out of college (however, this employment rate for new graduates is the highest of any major engineering field). Additionally, the average chemical engineering graduate can expect to work for 6-8 employers over a career. This is in sharp contrast to twenty years ago, when chemical engineers found secure employment with only 1-2 employers over a lifetime. In short, while future prospects are still good, things ain't what they used to be.

Table of Contents

Struggle for Survival

Sulfuric Acid Production

Chemical Engineering Education

"The end already...go back to the top."


Last updated on 4/4/98 by Wayne Pafko...
Copyright 2000, Wayne Pafko