It can be a struggle to find the best gifts for chemical engineers, especially if you aren't into chemistry yourself. I work closely with chemical engineers and they love practical tools that help them solve problems, but also sometimes enjoy nerdy chemistry gear that lets them show their passion for chemistry. This list helps get rid of the kitsch like printed chemistry mugs and periodic table joke t-shirts to narrow it down to items they will truly love and keep for a long time.
This list ties together our favorite gifts for scientists from around the internet. Some are our own Genius Lab Gear inventions and some we’re just jealous we didn’t think of first! Some links in this page contain affiliate links, which means that any purchase of the items after clicking the link will result in a small monetary referral fee paid back to Genius Lab Gear at no cost to you. We appreciate your support which allows us to continue inventing and testing the best tools for chemists on the planet!
1. The Pocket Chemist - Molecule Stencil and Chemistry Pocket Reference
If you've already spent hours looking for gifts for chemical engineers or chemical engineering students, you can stop here.
"This would have made my life 10x easier!" - said one chemist during our first Instagram giveaway. The only solvent-proof and wallet-sized organic chemistry stencil available, this little tool will help your favorite chemical engineer draw beautiful chemical reactions and save them time referencing important physical constants.
Not sure? It was even featured in the 2019 Holiday Gift Guide from the authority Chemical & Engineering News magazine!
To see how it's used, check the 45-second video below:
Get it with free shipping from our website or on Amazon using the links below!
2. Chemistry and Engineering Word Magnets for the fridge or fume hood
Science-themed gifts are rarely as entertaining and enduring as our science-themed word magnet sets! We recently launched these to encourage creativity and self-expression in labs, classrooms and offices. Each specialty pack comes with 144 tiles carefully designed by a PhD in that field for technical accuracy and tacit absurdity.
The Chemistry Word Magnet set was designed with help from professional chemists and chemistry teachers, who chose words to make it both science-y and humorous. Combine it with the Engineering Word Magnet set for a customized creative experience for chemical engineers. These are just plain fun!
3. Covalence: A Molecule Building Chemistry Card Game
Did you know that chemistry card games exist? Of course they do! This nerdy game lets you build organic chemistry molecules using elements on the periodic table. But it's not as easy as it sounds. There's cooperative strategies that will engage and enrage adult players but it's easy enough for high school students to pick up and learn basic chemistry! It's a great fit for chemical engineers because of the focus on problem-solving that they love.
4. Ion: A Compound Building Chemistry Card Game
From the same makers of Covalence above, is Ion! This is more the inorganic chemistry version, compared to the organic chemistry game above. Both have similar gameplay and will be well-loved by any chemical engineer who would love to play it with their family, friends or your chemistry club! Get Ion instead of Covalence if they primarily work with solid materials instead of liquid chemicals.
5. Pipette Ninja or Marie Curie stickers
Are they a pipette ninja? Someone who deftly transfers precise volumes of liquids to and from a chemical reaction? Designate them an official Pipette Ninja with our Pipette Ninja sticker!
Marie Curie was a Nobel prize-winning chemist (and physicist) who shattered the glass ceiling and stayed true to her passions for scientific discovery. This Marie Curie silhouette sticker coveys a cute but meaningful message - "Stay Curie-ous" in honor of her life and mission.
Both of these are perfect gifts under $5 for adding to a chemical engineering student's laptop, thermos or notebook!
6. Rocketbook Matrix cloud-connected reusable paper notebook
Chemical engineers do a lot of work both on paper and with software for system-level simulations. Rocketbook finally solved the problem of merging your hand-written notes into your favorite digital services. You simply use their app to take a photo of your pages of notes and the QR code and marked symbols on each page trigger the app to send the digitized page to any of the 9 pre-set digital destinations you choose. This includes OneNote, Evernote, Google Drive, Dropbox and even specific emails. Want a shortcut to send notes via email straight to your colleague or boss? This is what you’re looking for.
The Rocketbook Matrix is my personal favorite because it's designed for more technical work. It's got 30 pages of graphing paper and one regular lined page for taking notes, plus a built-in ruler on the inside cover. Did I mention they are resuable? Use their "Pilot Frixion" pens and then wipe the page with a damp cloth after uploading your notes to use it all over again (and win one for the environment!).
7. DIY Gin-making kit of Craft Beer kit
Chemical engineers have a reputation for being fascinated by gins and homebrewing. Nearly every one I've known either wanted to open their own brewery or distillery, and some universities even often elective classes on alcohol production. It's a fun way to use their extensive training!
If your chemical engineer enjoys craft beverages, one of these kits is an excellent way to open a door to something they could one day turn into their life's passion. My favorite kits are this gin-making kit and this amber ale brew kit.
8. Culinary Reactions: The Everyday Chemistry of Cooking
This book finally made cooking enjoyable for me. It's always been one of those imprecise arts where you just follow the directions and hope to get it about right. As a scientist, understanding what I'm doing is paramount. This cookbook walks you through the chemistry behind your every-day cooking recipes so you can make adjustments and improvements by logic, not guesswork! Any chemical engineer would love to have this book to apply their advanced knowledge of chemistry to something they do every day.
9. Best books for chemical engineers to read for pleasure (not textbooks!)
Engineers often get stuck in a loop of always reading technical documents, textbooks and journal articles. It’s important to occasionally break that cycle and dive into a book for pleasure. Below are a few of our favorite science-related books that will be an enjoyable read for a chemical engineer.
The Martian by Andy Weir
This is our all-time favorite book that chemical engineers will enjoy reading. For such a technical book, it’s got an incredible plot yet isn’t overly dramatized (except a little at the end). No other fiction book has captured this much popularity while running through exact calculations, estimations and scientific principles just to keep someone alive. You’ll be rooting for Mark Watney and inspired by the idea that your technical knowledge could one day save your life.
She Engineers: Outsmart Bias, Unlock your Potential, and Create the Engineering Career of your Dreams by Stephanie Slocum
A perfect gift for a female chemical engineer nearing graduation, this book helps to address a major issue not often discussed in school: the “boys” culture of engineering. The author has been an engineer in industry for over 15 years and gives practical strategies in an easy-to-read conversational tone to help any female engineer navigate the male-dominated workplace. It’s well-structured and filled with immediately applicable advice not only on excelling in your career but keeping work-life balance while you do it.
Ignition!: An Informal History of Liquid Rocket Propellants
John Clark, a chemist and sci-fi writer instrumental in creating the rocket fuels which took the Apollo astronauts to the Moon, documents the story in a humorous and engaging way. He gets into the chemistry of the propellants, feuds between rival labs, backchannel negotiations and the hair-raising dangers of inventing and testing these fuels. A chemical engineer with the slightest interest in space or rocket technologies would love to read this book about the golden age of rocketry from a chemist point of view.
More recommended books for Graduate Students:
If the person you have in mind is also a graduate student, take a look at our new list of The Best Books to Make You a Better Grad Student.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):
What do you buy a chemical engineer?
Chemical engineers hard to buy gifts for. This list will help!
- The Pocket Chemist
- Chemistry and Engineering Word Magnets
- Covalence Chemistry Card Game
- Rocketbook Matrix
- DIY Gin Kit or Craft Beer Kit
- Chemistry of Cooking book
- Chemistry-themed pleasure reading books
What should you get a chemical engineering student?
Any chemistry student is going through a challenging course load. The most appreciated gift would be The Pocket Chemist, which can help them get through homework faster and turn in spectacularly neat chemical reactions! It's basically a pocket tool for chemistry students.