From this week's C&EN, another letter from someone who has had a good career after a B.S. in chemistry (responding to both Mrs. Flohr and the high level of chemist unemployment):
I wholeheartedly agree with Rudy Baum’s editorial “Chemical Employment,” in which he says that chemistry “remains a wonderful intellectual pursuit that can lead to many different career paths” (C&EN, April 16, page 3). In my case, a B.S. in chemistry enabled me to have a successful 30-year career with the Department of Defense until I retired in 2009.
Although my employment was not directly in the chemical field, everything I studied, including organic chemistry and polymer science and engineering, was applicable to my work. From missile solid-rocket motors to composite aircraft structures to space systems, my chemistry education was extremely valuable to my work.
In retirement I’ve used my chemistry background in my consulting with Red Bull Technology regarding materials for their Formula 1 race car. I’m sure there are many other career paths outside of direct employment in the chemical industry or university environment where a chemistry education is most beneficial.
By Frank T. TraceskiWhen older chemists talk about their chemistry degrees and how it enabled them to have a long, successful career, I want to believe them and I hope that it is true. However, I feel there's a bit of post hoc ergo propter hoc reasoning; perhaps it was not their chemistry degree, but their innate ability to learn and adapt that was key. Who knows?
Turners Falls, Mass.