Gemma Cooke

Gemma Cooke

From the outset, Gemma wanted to attend a well-known university that was high up on the league tables and also had good links with industry and offered a placement year as an option. She’s found the University of Leeds to be very inclusive and felt welcomed on the open day which was a great start. 

While at high school and college, Gemma developed a love for both maths and science – specifically chemistry and physics – and wanted a degree that combined all of these. She chose Chemical and Process Engineering because it offers plenty of career options once completed. This variety means you can develop your passions and interests during your degree and chose a suitable career at the end without having to know exactly what you want to do at the start.

As Gemma explains – it’s already proved to be the right choice. 

“I’m now starting a job working as a Water Engineer working at Veolia helping the company to work towards its ambition of creating a circular economy. In this graduate role I hope to develop my technical expertise and my personal skills even further. I’ll also build on my degree knowledge while applying it to real-world problems and having a positive impact on the world. Eventually, I hope to obtain my chartered status and work as a fully qualified chemical engineer and possibly look into management in the future.” 

More than just study

Due to the amount of contact time and group work, Gemma has been able to make many close friends on the course; she has also been very involved with the social events thrown by the chemical engineering society such as the ball, Frank Morton and curry night (it’s not all just hard work!). She also completed a year in industry where she developed new skills both personally and professionally and gained greater clarity on her future career path. 

As well as the work perspective, Gemma particularly loved the fact that Leeds is a city-based university campus – which means you get the buzz of the city whilst still being a walk away from all the facilities and student living area. There are endless amounts of restaurants, bars and shops in the city centre and lots of amazing nightlife including clubs and gigs. Leeds is also surrounded by beautiful countryside such as the Yorkshire Dales and Ilkley which are great for walking in nice weather. Leeds also has many gyms and sports teams such as football, hockey and netball teams. 

There’s definitely plenty going on for everyone.

Course highlights

Gemma’s current research project is looking into the use of a rotor-stator spinning disc reactor to produce gold nanoparticles to see if the enhanced mixing has a positive effect on the monodispersity of the nanoparticles produced. She has been given the chance to work with a large research group within a laboratory using a variety of pieces of equipment and software. In her third year Gemma designed a shell and tube heat exchanger as well as working in a team to design an industrial scale plant to produce styrene monomer.

There are other skills to learn too as Gemma points out: “This degree is very challenging and requires you to develop good time management and resilience, which are both skills vital to any job. The course has also allowed me to present on multiple occasions, which has helped me to develop my confidence and communication skills to apply in future work.” 

Ultimately, studying Chemical and Process Engineering at Leeds has been a real positive for Gemma as she embarks on her career. 

“Although challenging, the course is extremely rewarding and opens so many doors at the end of it. The wide range of skills you develop while on the course makes you extremely employable in a wide range of industries.”