. Joel B. Christian, P.E., Ph.D., Professional Engineer, Philadelphia, PA, USA
Joel B Christian P.E. registered professional engineer

Chemical Environmental Materials Engineering

What do engineers do?

Some Engineering Roles:
Project Engineering Design, bidding, construction supervision, and start-up support for capital and construction projects.
Project Management Planning and management of larger projects. These may be buildings, new plants, new products, new processes, new software, or new business systems.
Process Engineering Focus on data, people, and science for understanding and improving processes.
Six Sigma Project Leader Data based troubleshooting and decision making for quality and cost improvements.
Research and Development Research focuses on discovery of new ideas or products, where development focuses on making the new product and developing a manufacturing system to make it. Development includes simulations, laboratory, pilot plant, and factory demonstration work.

How is engineering done?

Engineering is typically a group activity. Often a multi-disciplinary team is assembled, with members from research, design engineering, operations, maintenance, accounting, and factory workers represented. The "process" of the group activity creates a series of documents including blueprints, process flow diagrams, and written documentation. Chemical and metallurgical processes typically include a "material balance" that gives the flow of materials in and out of the process. Many projects include a "materials list", a detailed list of every single part required to make something.
team project
Many times, the team, management, or the owner has the solution visualized in their head, and the planning process seems to slow things down. In many cases, extra time spent planning is time well spent. The carpenter's adage is "measure twice, cut once."

Process or Project?

The terms process and project are two catch-all terms with multiple meanings, and sometimes interchangeably. Cooking dinner could be a project or a process. The process of cooking dinner involves planning a meal, perhaps running to the store, planning out steps, getting things cut and cooked, and arranged on plates for everyone to eat. Each of these steps include sub-seps, like setting the microwave or checking the temperature of something. The project of cooking dinner is actually doing those steps to get a finished product. Is this clear or confusing?

Process and project both have dual meanings as well. We normally plan a project for an industrial project using a planning process.

A task is one step that needs to be performed. Task is our favorite subgroup of both projects and processes. The steps of a project are often mapped out in a "project plan", which may have several views, such as list or Gantt. A Gantt chart is a timeline by task showing the project timeline from beginning to end.

a project planning chart

In general, a process engineer works on a manufacturing process and a project engineer designs the factory to do that process. In a brewery, the brewmaster is the process engineer.


Consensus is where we all agree on the path forward, and begin the new work project. These days, that target can change often, and normally the consensus decision includes how much change can be included based on technical challenges, cost, and customer needs. Systems such as "Scrum" seek to keep forward progress on a project with the understanding that a goal may not even be known yet. We live in exciting times!

team project

Some Project Examples

Marcellus Water Plant 1

Marcellus Water Plant #1
Commercial Building Blueprint

Commercial Building (Bradford County PA)

How can we get better value?

So you learn that your project requires an engineer. That time and cost can add up. How can you get the most value? Here are some suggestions.

Example Applications:
permit applicationsStamped and sealed drawings and permit applications.
site inspectionsJob site inspections, progress reports, verification of contractor work performed, conformance to plans and specs.
cost and energy savingsImprovements to process - materials, sources, operating procedures, equipment usage, process controls.
plant operationsOperations for plant installations large and small. Process reviews, efficiency studies, capacity determination, capacity expansions.
environmental controlsScrubber operation, water and wastewater treatment plant operation.
blueprint serviceIn-house blueprint generation helps communicate your project goals among stakeholders.
safety studiesSafety studies including node analysis, FMEA, HAZOP, fault tree, event tree, probability studies for reliability and safety. Fire and explosion prevention, accident prevention.

Joel B. Christian professional publications

Financial Analysis Article in Chemical Engineering Progress (July 1995) "Young Engineers, Start Investing!"
It has the hard truth on achieving financial independence.
Environmental Engineering A reprint from July 1994 CEP on the batch flux technique (150 kb) in illustrated HTML.
Safety Analysis A reprint from 1997 CEP on the Fault and event trees for safety and hazard analysis. (150 kb) in illustrated HTML.
Research & Development A reprint from 2007 JSSC on a Structural Study of AMT on Science Direct.
Machine Learning Tools A reprint from 2022 Journal of Forensic Sciences on Population identification strategies for counterfeit coin detection on Wiley online library.
Joel's complete publication and patent list.

professional resource pages and white papers

Learn More:

White-blogs by Joel B. Christian
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Ready to get to work?

Joel is ready to be the change agent in your biggest problem - people, technology, process. Use the contact email address to arrange a meeting by phone, Skype, Face Time, or in-person. Or, request a proposal to get things started. Let's get to work!
picture of load of dirt

More About Joel B. Christian P.E.

Joel B. Christian, P.E., Ph.D.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
email: contact@joelbchristian.com
phone: contact phone number

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