Ben Dance

Ben Dance

Ben chose to study at Leeds because of its great reputation as a place to come and study and research engineering. It ranks highly on university league tables for both Chemical Engineering and as an institution. It’s also a large, sociable and supportive university – all of which Ben says helped him to get out of his ‘comfort zone’ when leaving home for the first time.

“I chose chemical engineering as it combined the knowledge from my A-level studies (chemistry, physics and maths) and transferred them to real-world industrial and research applications. It also allowed me to build on other skills such as intuition, data analysis and presentation amongst others in the assignments and projects offered throughout the course.”

Course highlights 

“I have most enjoyed branching out my skillset from basic technical calculation skills and thinking more like a modern engineer – for example starting to consider the health and safety, ethical and environmental impacts of my designs and decisions. I have also been able to test my skills in leadership and working in a team during the variety of group projects completed during my course.”

Practical skills are key to engineering and Ben worked in a group to design an industrial-scale hydrogen producing plant as part of the course. The team had to evaluate various methods of production and select the process route that would be most appropriate to their scenario. Then they performed mass and energy balances on the plant as technical calculations, as well as considering safety factors, environmental impact and costing of equipment and operation. Individually, Ben created a detailed design of a catalytic packed-bed reactor, where he did more in-depth calculations and created schematics of the equipment.

Currently, Ben is undertaking a research project for his dissertation which studies how polymers can be produced with a more accurate specification (a specific molecular weight and narrow distribution of weights in a sample). He is looking to scale-up the precise synthesis of block copolymers – these are used in the medical and water treatment industries.

Something for everyone

Leeds is a great city with lots to see and do! The University has a Student Union with lots of societies to join with something for everyone (including a Chem Eng society which allows students to get to know their course mates outside of the lecture hall and take part in lots of social events including the annual sports day (Frank Morton) and the annual end of year ball!) University accommodation sites also host social events where students can mingle and get to know people from different backgrounds.

In the city, there are plenty of restaurants and bars to explore with your new university friends – and the nightlife is great too! For sports fans, there is rugby and cricket to watch at Headingley stadium or football at Leeds United (which Ben is a big fan of!).

Moving from university into work

Ben completed a placement year at Mitsubishi Chemical between the third and fourth year of his degree, which helped him apply what he had learned as well as providing insight into how the industry works from the inside. It was a successful year which has lead to a graduate job. 

“I am moving to Teesside after my degree to take up a graduate process engineer role at Mitsubishi Chemical, where I hope to gain more insight into the industry, progress, and experience as much as possible throughout my career. My placement year set me up well for starting my graduate role as I know what to expect and can hit the ground running.”

Making the most of what’s on offer

Ben is enthusiastic about the Chemical Engineering course at Leeds. “There are lots of opportunities for insights into things that you study when doing this course, and you should take all of these opportunities when they come! It helps you to figure out what topics/ areas of research interest you most and will help you plan where you want your future career to go, whether that be in research or going out into industry.” 

“Also, the course is definitely challenging but equally extremely rewarding. You get out of it what you put into it, so make sure you apply yourself as best you can and don’t have any regrets. But also make sure you give yourself time to enjoy the university experience. I can guarantee your time at university will absolutely fly by, so have the best time you possibly can and you’ll meet lots of new people and make lifelong memories!”