Chemical Engineering Q&A (Plain Text)
What makes the department at Queen’s University Unique?
The school of chemistry and chemical engineering at Queen’s is the only combined school within the Russel Group of research-intensive universities within the UK. Being a combined school gives us a lot of advantages when it comes to dealing with global challenges as we really do get to understand how to design materials and processes from the molecular to industrial scale. Within Queen’s we also have a common first semester where both chemists and engineers are taught together. Students who meet the entrance requirements for both subjects can take modules which then allows them to transfer between subjects over the first semester once they become more familiar with the course.
What are the main skills I will learn?
Chemical engineering covers a broad range of skills which are needed to design functional products in efficient, safe and environmentally friendly ways. In chemical engineering we learn how these, and other subject subjects inform the design of what we call unit operations. These units have specific tasks and can be combined in different ways to carry out a function. For example, thermodynamics studied in physics or chemistry can be used to design reaction vessels, separation systems or heat exchangers. When you understand the principles then you can design these units to suit a specific task. Often, they are linked together in large systems so you will also develop skills in computational modelling. There are lots of other skills too, engineers are often in senior positions and so in addition to design and complex problem solving you will enhance your team working, creativity, communication and many other skills.
What is the contact teaching times and the split of individual vs group work?
This does depend on the level you are at. Chemical engineering has a lot of content and your timetable is quite full throughout the degree. These activities include teaching which can be face to face or online, workshops, practical classes, design classes and so on. When you start on the course a lot of the content is more directed, with assignments carried out individually but as you progress through the course the challenges are more complex, less directed and where larger and more challenging projects are carried out in teams. We do aim to balance the individual and group activities throughout the degree.
What facilities will I have access to in the school?
The school has excellent facilities which complement those of the wider university. Within the school we have state of the art research and teaching spaces as well as a student hub. We are constantly upgrading our teaching laboratories and have up-to- date computational equipment to support students in their learning. Students can even borrow laptops from the school to help if needed. You can check out the school tour video which will give you an idea of the facilities we have.
What are the benefits of taking the placement option, and what support will the University provide me with?
As a practical subject there is no better way to test what you have learned than by doing. Many of our students do just that and take an opportunity to go on a placement in any one of a number of different companies that regularly come to Queen’s each year. The insight that is gained from the application of academic studies in a workplace environment and the confidence which comes from finding individual and team solutions to workplace challenges helps students to refine their career aspirations and gives them a boost in securing full time employment. We do recommend this option and if you want to find out more please do check out the section on placements given by my colleague Dr. Artioli.
What do graduates go on to do after studying Chemical Engineering at Queen's and how do you expect the job market to change both locally and internationally following the global pandemic?
Chemical Engineering is a fantastic degree to have and is a stepping stone to a career in any one of a number of areas. There is so much potential for creative individuals who are well trained. Our graduates have gone into engineering, design, project management and research jobs in many sectors including pharmaceuticals, energy, construction, food processing, renewables and oil and gas as well as academia. They have also demonstrated that they can move between sectors on account of their skill- sets. Most of our engineering students were active all through the Covid pandemic as they are the ones supplying the products, the energy and the medicines needed to support society. While some careers will change, for example oil, the need for energy is still there and renewables, hydrogen etc will grow rapidly over the careers of new students. I for one think that the need for chemical engineering is actually greater than ever and the skills our graduates will have will be needed more and more into the future. It is no wonder why chemical engineering is often the highest paid of the engineering disciplines.