- Course: Chemical and Nuclear Engineering MEng
Why did you decide to study Chemical and Nuclear Engineering at the University of Leeds?
The sciences were my favourite subject at school, so I knew right from the beginning of A-Levels that I wanted to do something science-related. I particularly enjoyed physics and chemistry, so after researching different types of engineering I decided on Chemical Engineering, as this combined the two with maths. I chose the "nuclear" specialism because it was always my favourite part of physics through A-Levels. I'm interested in working in the nuclear industry once I graduate.
I chose Leeds specifically because, of all the universities I visited, the department seemed the friendliest. When I went to visit, the staff and current students were welcoming and gave me all the information I wanted about the course. I also love Leeds itself because the city has so much to do, while being compact and easy to travel around. Additionally, I love the layout of campus which means nothing is far to walk.
What has been the best aspect of studying on your course?
The laboratory work has been the most enjoyable part of my studying. It's nice to have hands-on experience related to the concepts taught in lectures, and carrying out experiments and writing up the lab reports really helps to consolidate what you've been taught. The best thing about the university has definitely been the variety of activities on offer. I've been a member of lots of societies while I've been here and it's a great way to make new friends and pick up new hobbies.
Tell us about some of the exciting projects you have completed so far
Every year so far, we've undertaken at least one chemical and nuclear-related project. This year, for the BEng design project, a small group of us were tasked with designing part of a nuclear fuel reprocessing plant. It was a really challenging project as there are so many different things to consider when designing the process and each piece of equipment individually. However, the challenge is also refreshing as it gives you a chance to draw together all of the basic concepts you learn in the first two years of the course.
All of my projects have been heavily related to the nuclear industry. In first year, my group were given a project involving the conversion of uranium ore to a material called uranium yellowcake, which can then be enriched for use within nuclear processes. In second year, our project involved the conversion of uranyl nitrate into uranium trioxide, which can again be used within enrichment. The projects undertaken have been really useful in gaining an idea of the kind of thing you may be expected to do within the nuclear industry!
What does the city of Leeds have to offer students?
It's a very student-orientated city. As there are so many universities and colleges here, there's always something going on! It's cheap to live in and the city centre, campus and the student areas are close together so it's really easy to get around. There is a lot of shops, bars and restaurants around and it's also close to lots of other places – an hour away from Manchester and 25 minutes from York on the train – if you fancy a change.
What are your ambitions for the future?
I'm about to finish my third year, so next year I'm returning to Leeds to complete my MEng before graduating. I hope to get a career within the nuclear industry and I've secured a summer placement at Sellafield Ltd, so this will give me some relevant experience in this field. I hope to have the chance to work abroad at some point, too.
What experiences at Leeds do you think will help you in your future career?
The department have been really good at making things relevant to a future in industry. We do group project work from year one, which gets you used to working in a team. I've also been on a few field trips since first year – out to plants such as Drax Power Station and Sellafield Ltd in Cumbria – which provide a good talking point in interviews and give a good insight into the specific industry. This is helpful for anyone who isn’t sure what kind of job they want to work in yet.
What would you say to students coming to do the same course?
Enjoy it, but work hard! The course is challenging but also really interesting. At the end of it, the degree is really valuable. With an engineering degree, there are so many things you can do upon graduation – either working in industry or deviating and taking another career path. There's also time for you to get involved with societies and sports clubs, so take full advantage of them. The university union has an enormous selection of societies and there's definitely something for everyone.