A-levels: Chemistry, Physics, Maths
Place of study: University of Cambridge
Degree course: MEng Chemical Engineering
I enjoyed science A-levels so decided to study natural sciences at university and didn’t really consider chemical engineering until after I’d completed my first year. I was looking into the different course options for my second year and knew a couple of people who were studying (and enjoying) chemical engineering at other universities. The course sounded interesting, challenging and varied, and after attending an open talk at the University of Cambridge’s chemical engineering department, I took a gamble and it paid off!
Solving real world problems
My favourite subjects were the core engineering topics including fluid dynamics and thermodynamics. When I started the course I wasn’t really thinking about what I’d do after graduation but in the summer after third year I completed an eight week vacation course at ExxonMobil's Fawley refinery. I enjoyed applying what I’d learnt at university to solving real world problems so decided to start my career working as a chemical engineer.
In September 2015 I started working at Fawley Refinery in the technical support group for the crude distillation units. My day-to-day activities involved working with the process team to troubleshoot and optimize the various distillation towers and hydroprocessing units at the site. I also worked on longer term work items and various other assignments such as being a supervisor for the previously mentioned summer vacation course!
In September 2017 I moved to my current role as the Sitewide Energy coordinator where I help lead the different initiatives and projects onsite, with the goal of improving our energy efficiency and thereby reduce both our CO2 emissions and operating costs. My favourite part of the job is the variety of challenge that I get to work on.
Applying what you learn
My only advice would be to try and get some real world engineering experience before you complete your course – whether that’s one week of work experience or a full placement year. I find the best way to learn is to apply what you’ve heard in lectures or read in textbooks.
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