I am a relatively new piping design engineer, only having just shy of two years experience. I was given the above mentioned document and told to read it, and was told I would be quizzed on it. After reading through it briefly, it seems heavily focused on chemical engineering and does not pertain to my job as a design engineer at all. If I were required to know this information, I feel like it would be an extreme edge-case scenario that would perhaps come up in my career once in a hundred years. I do not even feel I am developed enough technically or experience-wise to even begin making heads or tails of this document.
I told the person who assigned this task to me that I did not feel it to be a valuable use of my time, and that I would rather devote my time learning other more pertinent topics related to my day-to-day job. They rejected this.
I personally think this is just busy work, to keep me occupied, instead of actually expending any effort to proactively teach me. Could people please weigh in on this? It seems like a gross misuse of my time, especially when I'm actively working on projects and getting useful experience from that avenue.
Your boss told you to do it. End of discussion.
Disagreeing with the boss is never a good career move.
Maybe instead of spouting your opinion, you ask for some guidance. Maybe your boss (as a more senior engineer) could help you (as a junior engineer) understand why the chemical information in that document will be important or helpful to you. You're not disagreeing. You're curious and need some help understanding.
This approach has three advantages: It gets you the information you need. It compliments his experience and knowledge. And it does this without creating an adversarial situation.
Take this advice from a very senior engineer, with the white hair (and scars) to prove it.