profile portrait of Andrew Kirkham

Andrew Kirkham

Why did you decide to study at the University of Leeds?

I made the decision to study Chemical Engineering at the University of Leeds because of its rankings across a variety of independent university course guides. Its position was not only competitive, but its scores were unmatched for graduate prospects. The university’s reputation with employers, in addition to the support it provides in finding graduate placements, was crucial to making my university choice.

What has been the best aspect of studying here?

The best aspect of my course has been working as a part of engineering teams on group tasks. These cover engineering principles of plant and process design from the ground up – and I’m able to include these as part of my personal design project portfolio. I've also enjoyed meeting new people and building friendships with like-minded individuals. 

To date, I have led design projects including a proposal for a benzene production facility, methanol production from the oxidation of syngas, ethylene glycol production from the oxidation of ethylene, and the manufacture of titanium dioxide nanotube arrays from two-stage anodic oxidation of titanium for use in semi-conductive layers of dye-sensitised solar cells. 

What do you think of Leeds as a city?

Leeds has lots to offer students. It is a major rail hub, so many cities are just a short journey away, including access to London. There is an array of bars, clubs and restaurants, along with some of the United Kingdom’s largest shopping centres. 

What are your ambitions for the future?

At the moment, I am looking to work in the cosmetics industry. The field is based on goods that are complex and highly refined in engineering terms, with a great deal of focus on making product chemistry and manufacturing processes transparent to consumers. My hope is that this will progress to a career that balances engineering technical ability and corporate communication with retailers and consumers. 

What experiences at Leeds do you think will help you in your future career?

Working with people from different backgrounds and nationalities has helped develop my interpersonal skills and negotiating capability in a professional environment. Working on a project-by-project basis is similar to a real industrial environment, where work contributes to a profitable venture with the success of both short-term and continuous operations measured by individual objectives.

What would you say to students coming to do the same course?

I would recommend having a look at the different industries that use the Chemical Engineering across sectors such as consumer goods, fuel, construction and chemical production. Having a commercial awareness and building an initial interest will aid your studies because the content will seem applicable to real-world scenarios.