A chemical engineer sings about university life! (Day 306)

By now, regular readers of this blog will have realised that I’m pretty passionate about chemical engineering, its application and why it matters the world over. The students I teach share my view, but they can be a bit more creative at expressing it.

Sandy Nimmo, a final year undergraduate at Imperial College, penned a song to describe his experience whilst studying our beloved subject. Rest assured, this is not part of the curriculum, but it just goes to show how inspirational chemical engineering can be.

Have a listen to his song ‘Music for Engineers’ here:

The years spent at university can be some of the best of your life, and as they draw to an end, its only natural to reflect on the time you’ve had. And this is exactly what Sandy did with his song.

So I thought it would be appropriate to ask Sandy to tell us about life as an undergraduate chemical engineer, including what motivated him to write a song about it.


Quote startName: Sandy Nimmo
Course: (MEng) chemical engineering
Graduation year: 2015
University: Imperial College London, UK

I guess I should go back to the beginning and explain why I chose chemical engineering. When I looked at the course and what it entailed, the mix of looking at problems right from the microscopic scale up to the large, industrial scale appealed to me.

Other subjects seemed more theoretical and harder to visualise, where as with chemical engineering, the applications and results are more tangible to see.

Cafe CultureStudying this degree has certainly challenged me but I definitely didn’t think it would stretch me quite so much. Whilst it has been tough, I’ve particularly enjoyed the amount of group work during my course. When I started, I envisaged a more isolated learning experience – almost ‘book worm’ like. But chemical engineering is about working with your peers and communicating ideas.

My final year group project, with nine others, involves scoping how to make edible vaccines. There are 20 downstream operating units that need to be designed, and as a group, its up to us to decide how we approach the problem. Group work has taught me how to manage people and deadlines, and it certainly has increased my confidence and work ethic.

Being a final year student – and because I have enjoyed time at university experience so much – I felt the need to capture things for posterity. I wanted to sum up the amazing time I’ve spent with friends, peers and lecturers whilst learning to become a chemical engineer.

And since I’m a member of the music production society at Imperial, I thought I would marry the two together and write a song. I realise it’s niche, but the song is very much intended for my friends and chemical engineering classmates. It’s driven by that sentimental notion that in just a few months time, we’ll all be heading in different directions.

Creating a song is also a great way to take a break from studying because the course can be quite intense at times. Yet over the years, I’ve grown to love the subject and after graduation, my plan is to stay within the field.

I’ve taken quite a few nuclear modules throughout my course.  As a consequence, I’ve come to really enjoy the area of energy, and in particular, how to approach the energy challenge in a sustainable way. I’d love to gain practical experience with a variety of processes, including methods of energy production.

Quote endBut for the time being, I’m going to treasure the amount of time I have left at university with the life-long friends I’ve made. Chemical engineering has been a great subject to study and it leaves my future career options wide open – you can’t say that about many subjects.


At the time of writing, Sandy’s song has attracted 660 You Tube views. He’s got some way to go before he catches up with Psy’s Gangnam Style, which, I am told has passed the two billion mark. But I reckon Sandy’s song makes more sense!

Have you come up with a quirky way of spreading good news about some aspect of chemical engineering?  Maybe you’d like to write a guest blog?

Just drop me a line via the blog.