I always enjoyed science at school and was particularly interested in its application to do useful things. I often lost interest if no one could explain why we were learning something in lessons or how it could be used in real life. With a father who worked in the oil and gas industry in Aberdeen I was also very aware of the opportunities in that field for what seemed to be pretty exciting engineering, thus, after doing some research and consulting with a few students I decided that Chemical Engineering was something I wanted to pursue at university.
The first year of engineering was heavily mathematical and examination based, which I personally found very challenging and at times quite demoralising and uninspiring. It was a great relief therefore to move to the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology in my second year, where I felt like I mattered more as part of a much smaller year group (approximately 70 chemical engineering students in a year as opposed to 350 engineering students) and I could start doing the sort of engineering I really wanted to do. I wasn’t disappointed. With a healthy mixture of coursework, consisting of experiments and exercises, and a variety of theory that was always accompanied by an explanation of its application, I really felt like I was getting the full picture of what Chemical Engineering involved.
The most challenging yet rewarding year for me was my third year, where we undertook a project in small groups to design an instant coffee production plant in 5 weeks from scratch. This was a highly intense period where the nature of Chemical Engineering was conveyed to me very effectively! Working in groups it was important to support each other and communicate properly, and our year group became considerably closer as a result of this – I have definitely made life long Chemical Engineering friends which I don’t think is as easy to do in other, larger subjects. Also, going from zero knowledge of coffee production to designing a whole freeze drying section of a chemical plant enabled me to apply all of the knowledge I had gained from the course so far and to learn an incredible amount about design work – invaluable experience to have going into an engineering working environment.
Having had various work placements in the oil and gas sector over the summer vacations during my degree I am confident that this industry offers the level of challenge and variety I want in a career. Thus I shall be joining ConocoPhillips as a Production Engineer in Aberdeen in September 2015. As a result of my time studying Chemical Engineering at Cambridge I feel that I have been thoroughly prepared for a successful engineering career and that I can only go on to achieve positive results.
Entry Route: Chemical Engineering via Engineering
Scottish Advanced Highers: Chemistry, Maths, Physics
Other Scottish Highers: Biology, English