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Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology

Izy solution team awarded their DID Challenge winning trophy

At CEB we are committed to welcoming students of the highest intellectual potential, irrespective of social, religious or financial considerations. We also encourage applicants from state schools, and schools with no history of sending students to Cambridge, as well as students from underrepresented and underprivileged backgrounds.

We are also passionate about school outreach and dispelling myths about chemical engineering and biotechnology discipline spreading the word about the important role it plays in tackling the biggest global challenges. To achieve this, we run a number of different access and outreach initiatives at CEB, the main one being the Davidson Inventors Challenge (DIC), a STEM competition aimed at Year 11 and 12 students in UK schools.  

The DIC competition theme is sustainability and sustainable development goals. From over 50 school entries received lasy year, one team of Year 12 international students from Eastbourne College in Eastbourne, UK, were crowned the winners of the 2022 challenge back in May with their and innovative solution: ‘Izy’, a solar water sterilisation system.  

As part of their prize, the 'Izy' solution winning team was recently treated to the ‘Cambridge experience’ including a stay at Pembroke College and a signature 'punting' trip down the river Cam. They also spent a day at CEB where tailored activities had been organised to show them the diversity of areas our researchers are working on. 

During the department tour the students found out more about the research work of impact being carried out in our labs and also visited our Makerspace, a dedicated space for our students to build and innovate where they are equipped with the advanced skills required to problem-solve at the highest level. They witnessed the operation of modern machinery available fro students to use in their projects like laser cutters, 3D printers, vacuum formers, etc…They also carried out a practical activity in our Computing Suite using CAD design software for their outputs to be 3D printed.

Over lunch they met some of our students and also managed to catch up with their own CEB mentor, PhD student Sarah Barron. Overall, they learned about chemical engineering and biotechnology in context and in practice, and how it is truly transforming the world in the areas of energy and environment, sustainability and healthcare, to improve our daily routines and quality of life. 

One of the student winners visiting Cindia Zhou noted: 'My visit to the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology at the University of Cambridge has been one of the best days of my life. We witnessed incredible machines that appear only in textbooks and had conversations with some of the world’s best scientists. By seeing some latest on-going research, I not only realised the significance and wide applications of the subject, but also have become more determined to study science in the future. It was inspiring and encouraging, and I cannot wait to study more to become people like them.'

'During our visit to the department, we were able to see state-of-the-art machinery, and learn about the research being done in the labs. As a student, although I have spent a lot of time learning about theories and machinery behind scientific processes, it was the first time seeing them in action. My admiration for scientists and engineers who put great effort into their research and advancing technology grew immensely after the visit'; noted another student Denise Yip.

Ms Hannah Perry, Teacher of Chemistry at Eastbourne College who accompanied the students' commented; 'It was a privilege to take the winning 5 pupils to experience what life as a student scientist or chemical engineer may entail. They thoroughly enjoyed chatting with the university students and researchers. They gained much from the day, confirmation of the scientific routes they wish to follow and further challenged to press on with their interests and how a simple idea can a have a huge positive impact both industrially and domestically.            

If you would like to take part in our next Davidson Inventors Challenge register here by 8 January 2023.  

If you are a UK school and would like to organise a visit for your Year 10, 11 or 12 class to the department see more information here.