Eleanor Humphreys

Eleanor Humphreys

“When I was choosing a course to study at university, I knew I wanted to do engineering but I was torn between material and chemical engineering. Then I found Leeds did a combination – it was perfect.” 

Leeds allows students to tailor the course to their interests through the different course options (Chemical Engineering, Chemical and Energy Engineering, Chemical and Materials Engineering, Chemical and Nuclear Engineering). It is also possible to change between the courses up until the end of Level 2, but even after this, if you choose to do the MEng, then you can focus your research project on the specific area you enjoy.

A springboard into a career in engineering

Leeds has built great links with industry, and has a dedicated engineering employability team (which help with summer internships, industrial placements, mock interviews, assessment centres, application proof-reading and more). As Eleanor says: “..that really swung it for me.”

Being a chemical engineering degree, students do lots of design projects which start out relatively simple, then as they learn more, they apply more. By Level 3, students can design a functioning plant – complete from location and construction, to maintenance, downtime and integrated process control using academic “consultants” who are staff members with extensive research in each area of work.

Lab work supplements learning, especially on the material engineering aspect. As Eleanor explains: “We could have tours of the characterisation machines to see our learning in practice which helped me remember the content and solidify understanding. The School of Chemical and Process Engineering also has teaching labs where you can see engineering principles applied such as different types of heat exchangers and comparing their efficiency, inputting process control, and varying pressure within pipes.”

“Other experiences that really stand out for me were the external trips to a production plant and a production teaching facility. The latter allowed us to use a plant operator simulator, dissemble and reassemble gears and pumps in the mechanic warehouse, and use PID (process and integration diagrams) to locate specific vessels and valves to ensure our physical application was as good as our theory.”

Developing workplace skills 

Leeds acknowledges that engineers very rarely work alone, and group work is an integral part of this course. Learning to work with different personalities, creating your own internal deadlines, communicating information and decisions, adapting to changes both to the work and to the group, are also necessities in the workplace. Eleanor (along with many other students) have found it incredibly useful to hone these skills before entering industry.

“I have secured a graduate process engineer job and they are working with me on a training plan to help me achieve my chartership. After several summer internships and an industrial placement, I have worked in a variety of engineering sectors and I have learnt that I would like a more practical, hands-on role in an SME (small to medium enterprise) because the teams are closer, you have more responsibility and it feels more genuine, and less corporate.”

A beautiful campus and city

Attending an open day is a great way to see the facilities, enthusiastic staff, and the beautiful campus and city of Leeds. The university and student areas are in walking distance to the city centre, or you can get the bus to save a few minutes. There are also beautiful natural areas nearby such as Roundhay, Meanwood and Temple Newsham Park, and lots of places to walk around Leeds such as the Meanwood trail, Eccup reservoir, Ilkley Moor. Plus, being a city, there’s facilities for most sports and hobbies you can think of, with Headingley being home to Leeds Rhinos and cricket ground which has held the Ashes and Cricket World Cup, if you’re a fan. 

Finally, some great advice from Eleanor…

“For those wondering if they’ll be able to cope, everyone is in the same boat and first year is mainly about bringing everyone up to speed. The School recognises everyone has had different experiences, so they factor this in with the work.”

“For those students where it’s their first time doing full-time study away from home, treat it like a 9-5, Monday to Friday job. This will stop you burning out, have time to look after yourself, and the quality of your work will be better than working all hours of every day.”