- Course: Chemical Engineering MEng, BEng
Zainab Dhariwal is in her final year of her Chemical Engineering MEng, BEng degree, after completing her Year in Industry at Atkins.
Zainab decided to study at Leeds because she had the opportunity to specialise in nuclear engineering. She said: “I chose to study Chemical Engineering at the University of Leeds as I found the course extremely interesting especially with the different specialisation modules: nuclear, energy, materials and process. The wide range of modules in this degree is an amazing benefit to my career plan and educational knowledge.”
Additionally, Zainab wanted to move to a vibrant city. She said: “Leeds is also a great city, with lots to do so you are never bored. With the University situated so close to the city centre and the student housing areas, everything is spaced perfectly so it is all in walking distance but you will always find something new to explore and see.”
“The city centre has so many great bars, shopping centres and plenty of places to eat! Being a foodie and someone who loves a great party, Leeds has the best mix.”
I found the course extremely interesting especially with the different specialisation modules: nuclear, energy, materials and process.
Specialising in Nuclear Engineering
Zainab chose to study the nuclear pathway within chemical engineering. She said: “I really enjoyed my nuclear modules which included – Nuclear Engineering, Nuclear Industry and Nuclear Futures as these all allowed me to learn about the basics and future knowledge on fission and fusion topics for industrial uses.”
“These modules helped expansively during my job interviews as they were really unique and not many universities specialise in these topics. In second year, I really enjoyed Process Operations which included laboratory tutorials once a week during semester time.”
Zainab learned how to operate the chemical engineering equipment used in the industry. She said: “I learnt about continuous stirred tank reactors (CSTR) used in industrial processes for mixing elements and large fluid beds for chemical processes. Furthermore, we attended a site visit to a chemical site and got to see this equipment in use on a large scale which was incredible!”
In her final year, Zainab conducted an in-depth research project. She said: “The highlight of my MEng degree was the final year MEng research project where I wrote and published a paper on Integrating Nuclear Energy with Co-electrolysis for Syngas Production. By choosing my own project and supervisor, this really allowed me to explore the world of research while combining my work for real life impact. The creative and technical side of this module allowed me to grow my professional skills for the future.”
The highlight of my MEng degree, was the final year MEng research project where I wrote and published a paper on Integrating Nuclear Energy with Co-electrolysis for Syngas Production.
Excellent laboratory facilities and expert teaching
During her course, Zainab had access to the specialist laboratories at Leeds. She said: “The labs are the best aspect of the School of Chemical and Process Engineering, with multiple floors of laboratories highlighting the various aspects of the degree learning areas and the specialised help from the lab technicians, PhD assistants and lab Professors.”
The programme team is made up of academics with extensive industry experience. Zainab said: “On the course, I also utilised many mentor experiences from the School such as the Croda mentor scheme, Career Path mentor and 1st Year mentor programme. The professors all had great teaching skills and were always open to 1:1 consultations, which makes university life so much easier. They are always willing to listen and take feedback to improve their skills while making your experience better.”
Joining student societies
Leeds University Union has a variety of student societies. Zainab said: “Throughout my five years, I have joined several different societies from LUU Hiking Society, ChemEng Soc, GOGA (Get Out and Get Active) and PakSoc. Personally, I really enjoyed PakSoc (Pakistani Society) and ChemEng Soc where I met some of my closest friends throughout my uni years.
“ChemEng Soc had some great events including Frank Morton which is a great chemical engineering event throughout the UK, socials every week and the opportunity to meet loads of your course mates and make great friends for life. One of my favourite events was the White T-Shirt Party (pictured below), where you get to meet and socialise with all chemical engineers and have a great night!”
Year in Industry: Nuclear Safety Engineer at Atkins
As part of her degree, Zainab did a Year in Industry placement. She said: “I completed a Year in Industry from September 2021 to September 2022. I worked at Atkins as a Nuclear Safety Engineer, which was one of the best experiences of my life.”
“I was applying for roles during COVID-19 so it was a difficult period, but through the help of EPS Employability, the placement was a really smooth process. I gained lots of career experience working on real-life nuclear projects such as Hinckley Point C and Sizewell C, while making the world a safer place which I really enjoy.”
“One of my favourite projects was working as a process engineer to design containment equipment in a Tritium Recycling Facility for Fusion Reactors. One of the most amazing trips I went on during my placement year was a Ski Trip to Andorra where I spent 7 days skiing, networking and learning key team building skills necessary for my career.”
I gained lots of career experience working on real-life nuclear projects such as Hinckley Point C and Sizewell C, while making the world a safer place which I really enjoy.
Future career plans
Zainab has secured a graduate position and will be starting her new job after she finishes her degree. She said: “I will be travelling across Europe after my graduation in July 2023 and then will be starting my graduate role as a Nuclear Safety Engineer at Mott MacDonald in Manchester.”
“I am really excited to work on lots of cool projects while achieving my chartership as a Nuclear Engineer (Nuclear Institute). Through choosing Chemical and Nuclear Engineering at Leeds University, I have gained exceptional experience as a chemical engineer, and also networking links which I hope to grow in my future career path.”