An Associate of Applied Science degree in Chemical Engineering at Navajo Technical University requires 62 credit hours and the degree is designed for a two-year program of study. The minimum credit load for a full-time student is 12 hours per semester.
Environmental Scan, Chemical Engineering Technology, Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.)
The Greater Gallup Economic Development Corporation and Western Refinery, Inc., which operates a major refinery between Gallup and Thoreau, close to the Crownpoint campus, have asked Navajo Technical University to develop an associate degree for chemical engineering technicians. After receiving that request the University asked other firms in the oil and gas industry, which is one of the largest industries in the four corners region served by Navajo Tech, if they believed that a Chemical Engineering Associate of Applied Science degree would be useful to finding Navajo employee for their operations. Navajo Oil and Gas Company and other large employers in the area indicated that there was a growing need for chemical engineering technicians throughout the area.
What Do Chemical Engineering Technologists Do and What Are the Prospects for Jobs?
Chemical Engineering and Process Technologists and Technicians work on industrial processes designed to convert raw materials into petroleum products. Since the Four Corners region has significant oil and gas fields, there are a number of refineries and other oil and gas related operations throughout the area. Technologists run production units, help design operations, implement process controls and address corrosion concerns. They do these tasks both in the field and in large plants. They also research products and technologies as well as environmental and reclamation techniques. Environmental reclamation, given the number of abandoned mine sites on the Navajo Nation and in Arizona, Utah, and Colorado, provides jobs throughout Navajo Tech's service area.
According to the United States Bureau of Labor statistics, chemical engineering technologists also "use special instruments and techniques to help chemists and chemical engineers research, develop, and produce chemical products and processes". Jobs can be found not only in the oil and gas industry, but also "manufacturing facilities, such as chemical or pharmaceutical manufacturing plants, where they monitor production processes". There are a number of manufacturing plants in the area, such as the paper mill in Prewitt, New Mexico, that hire chemical engineering technologists. The Bureau of Labor statistics believes that the growth rate for this job category will continue to grow at a rate of 9¢ a year rate for the foreseeable future nationally (Bureau of Labor Statistics). In New Mexico this job category is estimated to be growing at an even faster rate, 13.2¢ per year (Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, New Mexico).
Currently, according to those working in oil and gas in the Four Corners region, most of the Chemical Engineering Technicians being hired are being educated in Houston, Texas or the surrounding area. This means that Navajo, Pueblo, Ute, and other American Indians are not managing to secure these well-paying jobs. Given the level of poverty and the extraordinarily high unemployment rates on the Navajo Nation, developing a strong chemical engineering technician program at Navajo Tech is desirable.
Although most of the courses will be transferable to a baccalaureate degree in chemical engineering, the Chemical Engineering Technology course of study is designed as an Associate of Applied Science degree. This means that it is designed to allow students to apply directly to the job market after earning the degree. The curriculum for six community colleges and universities were examined in the research that led to establishing the degree's requirements. At least two of the curricula examined had more of an academic focus than the degree requirements that have been established. Western Refinery, the company that originally requested development of the degree, was also consulted during the degree's design phase. The biggest challenge in establishing the degree was the limitation of credits normally associated with an A.A.S. offering.
Chemical Engineering Technology Requirements (62 Credits)
|MTH-121 College Algebra||4|
|ENG-110 Freshman Composition||3|
|CHEM-119 Safety, Health, Environment I||4|
|CHM-120 General Chemistry I||4|
|CHEM-117 Introduction to Chemical Laboratory Equipment||4|
|CMP-101 Introduction to Computers||3|
|NAV-225 Diné Philosophy of Education||3|
|CHEME-115 Introduction to Process Industries||3|
|CHEME-218 Process Technology II System||4|
|HUM XXX Humanities/Social Science Course||3|
|COM-130 Public Speaking||3|
|CHEME-231 Process Technology III Operation||4|
|CHEME-202 Industrial Chemistry and Lab||4|
|CHEME-222 Fundamentals of Chemical Engineering||4|
|CHEME-223 Petroleum Refinery Engineering & Petrochemicals||4|
|CHEME-224 Quality Control in Chemical Engineering||4|
|CHEME-230 Practicum in Industry||4|
|Total Required Credit Hours||62|
Dr. Gholam Ehteshami, Professor of Chemical Engineering and the Department Chair for School of Engineering, Math, & Technology
Ph.D., Chemical Engineering, University of Arizona
M.S., Chemical Engineering, Minor: Mathematics/Statistics, Oregon State University
B.S., PetroChemical Engineering, Abadan Institute of Technology, Iran