Lauren Farndell

Lauren Farndell

Lauren knew she wanted to do a STEM course after picking A-levels. Having looked at a lot of the science and engineering courses available, chemical engineering appealed the most because of the vast career opportunities, as well as the problem-solving and analytical aspects of the degree. She was particularly interested in working in the energy industry, so, after speaking to the staff about the options available, she decided on nuclear as this seemed to be the most exciting in terms of up-and-coming projects in the UK, and the opportunities for engineers in this field. 

“From the beginning, it was clear that the university cared about and put a lot of time into its chemical engineering course, with a wide variety of modules available and huge amounts of staff expertise. The building is also very well equipped, with lecture theatres, labs, study zones and a café for students to enjoy” says Lauren.

Lots of variety 

As well as lectures and tutorials, students also get to participate in lab sessions, learning about how different chemical processes are completed in industry, and computer sessions, using different modelling and drawing software. There is also the opportunity for a lot of group work and collaboration between students, which can help you to approach problems from a different direction and see how others think up solutions. 

Lauren confirms: “The variety of teaching methods on the course have been particularly interesting, and mean you never get bored week to week!”

Many of Lauren’s projects have been geared towards the nuclear industry. These have included the design process behind generating enriched uranium dioxide from yellowcake uranium, the material characterisation of nuclear graphite, and the treatment of high-level waste from nuclear power stations, the last of which has been my third-year design project. These have been extremely useful in learning the intricate background of the nuclear industry, the chemical processes it utilises, as well as useful skills such as groupwork, leadership and different communication styles. 

A great balance of work and play

Leeds is a city with a vibrant student population and a lot of events geared towards young people. It’s a great city for shopping, with several arcades and a large shopping mall, eating out and plenty of nightlife. And for those that want to get away from the city centre, there’s also lots of outdoor places to go for a day out, including Kirkstall Abbey and Roundhay Park. Further afield, students often catch the train to York or go walking on Ilkley Moor. 

“I liked how easy it was to get around the university, with everything on one campus, lots of student accommodation, and the city centre being only a short walk away.”

Big plans for the future

After achieving her Master’s degree, Lauren hopes to work in the nuclear industry either on a plant or in design and planning. Through this, she plans to achieve the chartered engineer status with the IChemE – which proves professional competence and demonstrates a commitment to the chemical engineering industry.

For Lauren, the project work she has undertaken is a big part of equipping her for the career journey ahead. “The large amount of project work I have completed at Leeds during my course has helped prepare me for future projects within the workplace, as well as learn which interpersonal skills are important for cohesive group work. Also, taking on additional roles available in the school – such as a peer mentor for younger years and attending the student staff forum as a course representative – has allowed me to develop my communication and improve my time-management, which will always be useful in the workplace.” 

What advice would Lauren give to new students coming to do the same course?

“Work hard and have fun! Chemical engineering can be a challenging course at times but it’s also very rewarding in the skills you learn and develop through your time at university. However, make sure you’re also making time for other activities and hobbies. There’s plenty to do in Leeds and the time goes fast, so make the most of it!”