5 Analytical Skills to Improve Your Chemical Engineering Career

Joshua Zable | 1/3/2022

Topics: Data Analysis, Minitab, data science

Statistics plays a big role in all engineering professions and has become even more important for chemical engineers. Because of the proliferation of inexpensive instrumentation, an engineer working in a modern plant has access to a tremendous amount of data. As a result, chemical engineers are dealing with more, and more complex, data than ever before. Learning data analysis and data science skills will enable you to provide unique and in-depth insights from your data that can create significant value for your organization today.  
  1. Visualize Data to Gain Insights and Identify Improvements. Visualizing your data is critical! Do you know the “center and spread” of your data? Do you have outliers? What are the largest areas of improvement? There are many different ways to graph your data – from commonly used histograms and Pareto charts to more advanced heat maps and correlograms.

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  1. Get to Know ANOVA. Chemical engineers often need to make decisions and choose the best option among several candidates. Frequently, they use hypothesis tests, including comparing means between different groups. While many of you use multiple t-tests to compare groups, you are unknowingly introducing more risk to your calculations. Using ANOVA is a critical skill that every chemical engineer should have in their repertoire.

  2. Utilize DOE (Design of Experiments) to Optimize a Response. Using design of experiments (DOE) to plan and execute experiments allows for multiple input factors to be manipulated, determining their effect on a desired output or response. Said differently, it helps you determine the individual and interactive effects of various factors that can influence the output of your experiment. There are different types of DOEs, including mixture designs, which are most popular with chemical engineers, because they are particularly useful for formulations or mixtures using several components of ingredients. 
  3. Monitor Your Processes Using Statistical Process Control. Once a process is created, chemical engineers must learn to monitor their process to ensure quality and consistency. There are many statistical tools like control charts and capability analyses that help chemical engineers monitor variation in a process and determine whether a process will produce products or services that meet the required specifications. For optimal process monitoring, Real-Time SPC powered by Minitab provides immediate alerts and analyses to ensure a process is stable, efficient, and capable.
  4. Get Ahead with Predictive Analytics. Predictive analytics has many applications for a chemical engineer. These tools assist in the monitoring, predicting, controlling, testing, and verification of associated parameters, properties, and variables. While predictive analytics is such a broad area, chemical engineers typically start and stop with regression, which may not be giving them the best prediction.

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