Chemical Engineering

Undergraduate study

Professional Development Project

Emily Collins

Chemical Engineering with industrial placement (MEng)

Why did you choose Loughborough University?

The university had a good reputation for engineering which is why I applied. When I visited for my interview, I really enjoyed the university atmosphere and the students and staff that I met were all very enthusiastic about the course and all of the opportunities it could offer.

Why did you choose to take the PDP opportunity?

I wanted to get an experience of doing something independent outside of my comfort zone, so travelling to the other side of the world to do an independent research project seemed like the perfect chance!

Where did you study for your PDP?

I did my PDP at the University of Canterbury which is in Christchurch, New Zealand. 

I did my PDP at the University of Canterbury which is in Christchurch, New Zealand.



Could you give us an overview of your research project?

My research project was on modelling the electrochemical reactions that take place in a hydrogen fuel cell, in the hope that this knowledge will help with the design of cheaper, more efficient cells that are a good alternative to non-renewable energy sources. I then carried out some lab work to justify that the computer model I had developed could accurately predict the behaviour of a fuel cell.

What did you learn during your PDP and how do you think this will support your studies?

I learnt a lot about working independently and the importance of being self-starting and motivated. My supervisor gave me a lot of free reign to carry out my work in whichever way I thought would produce the best results, so I learned a lot about how research projects are carried out and the importance of good time management – and I also learned not to panic if things don’t always go to plan!

What were your career ambitions before starting your PDP and have these changed? If so, how and why?

My career ambitions have not changed since doing PDP; I will be returning to work at the company I worked for during my industrial placement once I graduate. However, I feel I have had my eyes opened to other career paths available to chemical engineers within the research and development sector.

What would you say to someone considering studying this course with a Professional Development Project?

I would really recommend doing a PDP. During the semester I developed so many professional skills as mentioned before, but also, equally as importantly, I had the chance to live abroad for four months of my life and meet people from all different backgrounds and cultures. I also travelled a lot within New Zealand and had so many great experiences that I really would not have had the chance to do if it wasn’t for the PDP. 

What has been the best experience outside of your PDP?

At the end of my PDP I went travelling for a week with friends I had met at the university. This was a great experience as I got to try out so many new things like bungy jumping, hiking up a mountain, whale watching and white-water rafting.

What has been your greatest achievement during your time at University?

My greatest achievement has probably been learning to be more confident in my own abilities. This was very prevalent during my PDP as the work I did was completely my own and I found that even though some tasks seemed challenging at first, I could overcome any difficulties if I put my mind to it.