What mainly attracted me to Loughborough is the facilities, both for academic and non-academic reasons. Academically, they offered quality experimental labs coinciding with Igloo, which allows you to immerse yourself in a 360⁰ virtual reality-plant. Non-academically, the world-class sporting facilities had also interested me, from the football rubber crumb to the main rugby pitch, which still amazes me today.
Another decisive factor for me was the support given by the University to secure an academic placement. Statistically, I found that Loughborough one of the best universities to obtain an academic placement, which I also found to be a great perk.
Choosing a Chemical Engineering degree was not an easy choice. I had taken Business, Chemistry and Mathematics at A level that I wanted to continue. I also wanted to challenge myself, maximise my intellectual potential and develop my interpersonal skills. From research, Chemical Engineering had a vast range of challenging subjects. Chemical Engineering seemed to be a perfect fit.
What I love about Chemical Engineering most is the ability to learn a wide range of topics, but how they always seem to connect through one way or another. One moment thermodynamics and mass transfer are unrelated, but they then seem to unite through reactor designing!
The facilities at Loughborough are always maintained to an impeccable standard. As mentioned previously, this is one of the main attractions from the outsider’s perspective. Pilkington Library is also fantastic for studying in; it has everything you need, from quiet studying sections and group study rooms (with whiteboards!) to a café for long studying hours.
The lectures and modules are structured chronologically, as well as regular problem classes alongside lectures. Problem classes help cement the knowledge from lectures through going through relevant questions and answering any questions from lectures.
When there are group projects, you are also assigned an academic supervisor. Constructive advice and direction are provided, as well as answering any queries, on the projects through regular meetings.
The Careers Network service is also a fantastic service to take advantage of whilst at Loughborough, with the advice given to improve both interviews and CVs. The university also provides its portal to aid searching for placements and graduate roles.
My favourite module so far has been my Professional Development Project (PDP) which I completed with the Erasmus scheme at the University of Chalmers in Sweden. The module begins with the project selection, which was a great as it allows you to choose a topic to study that you have a degree of interest in. Before choosing, I had successfully obtained a placement interview at Lenzing Fibres, were through research I became interested in the functionality and uses of cellulose. This interest matched perfectly with the University of Chalmers, as they had ongoing Cellulose research.
My project analysed the effects of cellulose and DNA on the aggregation (the molecular arrangement) of cyanine dyes. This project began with the surveying of literature and a literature review to gain familiarity with the field. I was then able to design my experiments own (with guidance from my PDP supervisor) and then follow through with them. Results were then analysed and then placed into an article.
The PDP project allowed me to take on a project from start to finish and I was able to dictate the direction of which I would be able to conduct my experimental work. These aspects were really fulfilling, especially as the results were successful. Through this module I developed and improved a vast range of skills. I improved my critical thinking, interpersonal skills (through regular presentations) and problem-solving ability.
Non-academically, this was a fantastic opportunity to travel to Sweden. I had the chance to experience a different culture and lifestyle, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
I initially had some personal issues relating to undertaking a Chemical Engineering degree, predominantly due to a lack in confidence in my own abilities. The support the university provided through a peer mentor and personal tutor had helped me understand that this was likely short-term issue, and eventually this confidence should improve. These discussions kept me motivated and focused, and as a result I’m on course to finish my degree program next year.
Another area of support given is when I began placement searching in year two (and continued into year 3). I have regularly taken advantage of the Careers Network, with CV checks and attending interview workshops (hosted by people employed by highly reputable organisations, for example, British Railway). The Chemical Engineering department also send regular emails of any events which could be of interest. The department also emails potential placement opportunities (which I have had four interviews through this service) and offers guidance on the respective organisation's interview process.
The university also offer support in the application on the Erasmus student exchange scheme. As you are transferring to another university there are lots of paperwork to be completed, which can be difficult to monitor. Departmental guidance on the required documents and their respective deadlines was extremely beneficial.
I am currently undertaking my placement year at Lenzing Fibres Grimsby as a Chemical Engineer intern. Although university is a fantastic opportunity to learn the theoretical aspects of Chemical Engineering, there is a lack of industrial experience. Coinciding university with a placement year will allow you to benefit from both.
My primary projects have been creation of interactive dashboards, investigating the energy usage of the plant, and the tagging of isolation valves. These projects have given me a great understanding of the plants process and equipment, which should put me in great stead for not only the remainder of my placement, but also for the rest of my working career.
I am still unsure of my desired career path upon graduating. As I approach the end of my placement, I hope that I will stumble upon a long-term career which best suits my skills and knowledge. The transferable skills obtained through Chemical Engineering will allow me to keep my options wide-open, with careers in engineering, business and IT being realistic avenues of choice.
If you are looking for a challenge and want to develop a wide range of skills, undertaking a Chemical Engineering degree would be a fantastic option.
Loughborough University offers many unique opportunities to socialise with numerous different societies. My Lifestyle (drop-in sports sessions) and inter-hall competitions are a great way of meeting new people and having fun. I have personally attended My Lifestyle Football sessions where people are always supportive regardless of ability (I have experienced this first-hand from initially being unable to hit a barn door with my shooting ability in my first year). I also joined the Chemical Engineering 6 a-side football team, where I became the first-choice sweeper-keeper and a striker in the dying embers of the game (with clinical strikes making allowing me to finish 3rd top goal scorer).
My favourite thing about being a Loughborough student is that everything you need is on campus, which gives a balance between the social and academic aspects of university life, to the extent that it would be possible to stay on campus for the entirety of your degree. For me, it is reassuring that you are always within distance of absolutely everything you require, which when travelling is not an issue as it allows you to immerse yourself in absolutely everything with no sacrifices. A perfect example of this is that I could have my lectures finishing at 5 pm and a My Lifestyle football session starting at the same time, and there would not be an issue in terms of practicality, whereas at other universities this would simply not be possible.