Science and engineering research is key to innovation as society evolves. Breakthroughs are happening every day, all over the world, in laboratories and in field research.
Assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions, evaluating its impact to ensure world-class, dynamic and responsive studies are maintained, and providing accountability for public investment is a big job – and one carried out by the Research Excellence Framework (REF).
There’s only one thing on your mind in February if you’re a UK chemical engineering student. Nope, not Pancake Day, not Valentine’s, not even your exams or Final Design Project (okay maybe that’s on your mind a little). It’s the Frank Morton Sports Day!
The annual gathering is special because it is just for them, chemical engineering students from up and down the UK. One day to get to know prospective employers, compete with rival Universities in sports from hockey to chess, all rounded off by a night of entertainment.
University of Leeds took on the monumental task of hosting this year, with a committee of eight students. The Frank Morton Sports Day is a huge undertaking for the students, who find time to organise a sports competition, careers fair, and night out for more than 2,000 students – all whilst studying.
The event was generously supported by Essar Oil, Total Lindsey Oil Refinery, AstraZeneca, Essar, GSK, Pfizer, Phillips 66 and TeachFirst. IChemE was also there to support the event, and invited students to participate in I’m a Chemical Engineer, Get Me Out of Here!
Like the TV Show (I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!), IChemE had designed it’s own Bushtucker Trials, and competition was fierce to make the High Scoreboard. Individuals participated in Critter Chaos – digging for IChemE stars wearing oven gloves in a mound of spiders, snakes and jungle debris. In true sporting spirit, the team game gave contestants a chance to become ball boys, with a twist – they could only pick them up using straws.
Congratulations to Adam Raut and Alex De-Koning, University of Edinburgh – winners of our team game. They soared ahead by sucking up 55 ping pong balls in one minute. University of Bath’s Arjun Wadhwa managed to find 45 stars in the same time, and took the Critter Chaos crown.
They win an Amazon voucher each and a personalised I’m a Chemical Engineer, Get Me Out of Here! T-Shirt. Check out the IChemE team styling out theirs:
There was a plethora of sports for all 26 universities to participate in this year, including; badminton, basketball, chess, climbing, dodgeball, football, frisbee, funrun, hockey, laser quest, pool, quidditch, rounders, rugby, squash, table tennis, tennis and ultimate frisbee.
In the overall sporting event, third place went to Leeds and Bath. Leeds won table tennis and basketball; while Bath took the lead position in badminton and dodgeball.
Imperial College London and University of Strathclyde came in joint second place, each accumulating 14 points. Imperial College secured the top spots in chess, the fun run (which was based on the average time for the whole team) and climbing – a new sport for the year. Strathclyde, who had travelled through the night to attend the sports day, won the football and rugby.
But, for the fourth year in a row, the University of Birmingham were declared winners at the Frank Morton closing ceremony, and presented with the coveted trophy by IChemE Director Andy Furlong.
The university took the top spot in ultimate frisbee, quidditch, hockey, pool and tennis, and accumulated 25 points.
Not forgetting of course, the T-shirt Competition. Frank Morton is known for every University designing and wearing quirky T-shirts, often featuring chemical engineering-related humour. But this year University of Strathclyde took first prize with their pirate-themed t-shirt doning the equation for walking the ‘planck’.
The evening then continued late into the night. Various DJ’s accompanied the ‘Festival’ element of the evening, which included fairground rides and new music from Leeds Student Radio. This was followed by a club night, featuring Mistajam and various other DJs.
Callum Birkin, a student from University of Birmingham, said: “I’ve had a great day. The atmosphere has been really good. I know not everyone is so happy about it, I think it’s good that Birmingham have won.”
Speaking shortly after presenting the trophy to a jubilant Birmingham team captain against a backdrop of raucous celebration, IChemE Director, Andy Furlong, said: “The Frank Morton Sports Day has been running for more than half a century and it’s a rite of passage for undergraduate chemical engineers. This year they played hard; and as usual they are set to party hard too.
“IChemE is delighted to be in the mix but we don’t want to take any of the credit away from the student committee at Leeds who delivered another great day out for competitors from every corner of the British Isles.
“Big thanks go to out to Ethan, Kimberly and the team for delivering such a spectacular success. Months of planning and hard work must be fitted in around the weekly routine of lectures, labs and assessments; and that’s no easy task. But it’s an unbeatable experience, and one that will stand them in good stead in the future. They did Frank proud!”
The Leeds committee delivered a fantastic event, and we’d like to give them a special mention in this post. Well done to…
University of Leeds Committee
Matthew Powders – Bid Lead/President
Ethan Errington – Sponsorship Coordinator
Kimberley Pavier – Event Treasurer
Jiara Rama – University Liaison
Lucia Vilajoana-Ricon – Sports Organiser
Abdullah Ali – Opening Ceremony
James Storrow – Closing Ceremony
Georgia Panayi – Evening Entertainment
Daniel Vincent – Secretary
Ethan Errington, from the Leeds committee, said: “This year saw the welcomed return of Frank Morton to Leeds – marking the 10-year anniversary since its last appearance on the University campus. To celebrate, Leeds did things differently – introducing climbing as a new competitive sport and hosting, for the first time ever, the well-received Frank Morton Festival.
“On behalf of the entire organising committee, I would like to thank everybody that participated and those who worked hard to ensure the smooth running the event, making the day such an unforgettable experience. Perhaps in 2019 we can finally see Birmingham knocked from their throne…”
They will shortly be accepting bids from Universities looking to host the event in 2019. We’ll keep you posted on the result.
Frank Morton Sports Day 2018 – Competition Winners
IChemE’s offices close from today until 2 January 2018. It’s been a busy year, and in today’s blog post we take a look at some of the highlights in numbers.
Remember, our Annual Review is published in May 2018 – giving a comprehensive overview of IChemE’s 2017 activities and achievements. Check out the Annual Review archive here.
We look forward to working with you in 2018. If you are a volunteer, thank you for your support. If you have engaged with us, if you have attended our events, if you have joined the conversation via this blog or social media – thanks for helping us to advance chemical engineering worldwide.
For many years, IChemE was a stand-alone publisher of chemical engineering books and had a small but dedicated team of staff administering the process. More recently, we have conducted our publishing activities in partnership with Elsevier. This has seen the introduction of many new titles, while other successful titles with Elsevier have been adopted by the joint programme.
However, there is still a lengthy back catalogue of titles which were published by IChemE prior to our Elsevier partnership. They are unfortunately at the stage where they are getting a little out of date. But just like a dog isn’t just for Christmas, neither is chemical engineering knowledge! That is why we would like to work with our members to develop new and updated editions for some of these titles.
Initial feedback is that some of the books below are still incredibly useful to our members, and new editions would be a good initiative. But which titles do you think need updating first? Which are the best of the bunch?
Please see below all the books currently on the IChemE back catalogue. We would value your feedback on which titles you would most like to see a new edition of, and why.
The first semester of university is underway. For some chemical, bio-chemical and process engineering students, it’s their final year; for others it’s their first September for sometime not spent in a lecture theatre or lab.
Those who have recently graduated and haven’t yet found a placement or role at a company, you’re probably thinking hard about your career. For those in their final year, it’s never too early to start getting some ideas of what job you’d like.
Either way, it can be a daunting prospect. Where do you begin? How do you prepare for job hunting and those all important interviews to come?
Here are our top 10 tips to help in your job hunting journey.
It’s Friday, and the final stage of our IChemE Global Awards winners round-up. We hope you’ve enjoyed the posts this week, and learnt a little more about each of our winners.
Today we are shining a light on the research superstars of the Awards. IChemE has always maintained strong ties with the academic community, supporting the host of ChemEngDayUK each year and accrediting courses. We also do proactive work with our UK Research Committee, who last night launched ten chemical engineering research case studies that have had a significant impact on the UK economy. Read all about the research event, held in Parliament, here.
So, on to the winners and the final three IChemE Global Awards videos, produced in association with Morgan Sindall. All these winners have demonstrated fantastic research capability, but most importantly their studies have a real-world application that can really make a difference.
Enjoy these final three videos, and season’s greetings to all our members worldwide.
Thanks for joining us for round two of our blog series, celebrating the very worthy winners of the IChemE Global Awards 2016. With help from our friends at Morgan Sindall we have produced a video for every category, and each one includes a special interview with the winners.
Yesterday we looked at some life-changing products, and the theme remains the same in today’s post. However today’s products have a little something extra – they have been specially designed to help tackle a problem in low-middle income countries.
This goes to show that chemical engineering really does matter, and that the work of chemical engineers doesn’t just make our lives easier – it is solving some of the world’s biggest poverty issues.
Enjoy the three videos below, and stay tuned the rest of the week when we reveal even more winning projects.
To help you stay up-to-date with the latest achievements from the chemical engineering research community here is our monthly instalment with some of the latest stories.
September’s five stories of amazing chemical engineering research and innovation are:
The Popeye effect – powered by spinach
Popeye was right; we can be powered by spinach! Researchers from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology have developed a bio-photo-electro-chemical (BPEC) cell that produces electricity and hydrogen from water using sunlight, using a simple membrane extract from spinach leaves. The article, publish in the journal Nature Communications, demonstrates the unique combination of a man-made BPEC cell and plant membranes, which absorb sunlight and convert it into a flow of electrons highly efficiently. The team hope that this paves the way for the development of new technologies for the creation of clean fuels from renewable sources. The raw material of the device is water, and its products are electric current, hydrogen and oxygen.
This week’s heatwave has reminded us all in the UK that summer is finally here, and for many students this means one thing – final projects have been handed in, last exams have been sat, and the ceremonial end to University is in sight – graduation.
If you are a final year chemical engineering student you may have already had your graduation, if not it’s just around the corner. This is a time to celebrate all your hard work and thank those who have helped you make it this far.
It may be the end of an era, but don’t panic about what comes next. You are about to begin your journey to become a professional chemical engineer.
But where to start? Here’s our ten top things to do after graduation:
The first chemical engineer to make the list (coming in at number 18), Dame Judith Hackitt, spent 23 years in industry before moving on to represent various professional institutions and boards. She was the Chair of the Health and Safety Executive for 8 years, and has recently become Chair of the EEF.
Judith was IChemE President 2013-2014, is an IChemE Fellow and an active member of the Institution. She is passionate about valuing diversity, and is strongly opposed to positive discrimination and tokenism. An interview we did with Judith for International Women’s Day is available here.
TOP QUOTE:“Teachers are ill-informed about engineering. They don’t know what it is and they have pre-conceived notions that it’s dirty, its greasy, it’s all these things which it’s not. And they say ‘No, that’s not for girls.’ You still find that even now, forty years later.”
On 24 May 2016 at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre, Professor Jonathan Seville was inaugurated as IChemE President for 2016-17. The Executive Dean of Engineering at University of Surrey delivered his Presidential Address on the subject of relevance. Jonathan challenged us all to think: how will the Institution and the profession stay relevant in a world that is rapidly changing?
ChemEngDay UK, the UK’s annual chemical engineering conference for the research community, came to a successful close last week. Hosted this year by the University of Bath, it welcomed over 250 delegates to Bath from across the UK and beyond.
ChemEngDay UK was begun to facilitate networking between chemical engineers across UK universities. Attended predominantly by PhD students, post-doctoral researchers and academics, together with delegates from industry, it is the only chemical engineering conference in the UK for the academic community.
IChemE’s Special Interest Groups (SIGs) are an essential way for our members to share knowledge and collaborate on initiatives, which are of significance to their sector.
Today is World Water Day, and our Water SIG is a hugely important part of providing expert advice and consultation to the innovations that could change our world. Water is essential to life, it must be sustainable or we cannot survive. Chemical engineers are an important part of making sure water provision is sufficient, clean, economical, and environmentally-friendly.
Chris Short, Chair of the IChemE Water SIG, explores in more detail the current challenges for the water sector in today’s blog post. Read on to hear his thoughts, and feel free to join the conversation on Twitter using #WorldWaterDay or by leaving a comment below:
Name: Chris Short Job: Consultant and Chartered Chemical Engineer Company: Chris Short Water Quality (previously Yorkshire Water) Special Interest Group: Water, Chairman
Today is World Water Day, and I’ll be attending a conference in Leeds, UK, on Innovations in Wastewater Treatment. The focus will be on the recovery of value from wastewater and I expect to hear how leading-edge technologies are performing and what new processes are being evaluated by researchers.
The UCL Ramsay Society held its Annual Debate on the Friday 4 March. The topic – ‘Does oil have a future?‘ – explored areas such as energy policies, emissions, sustainability and the cyclic nature of the oil and gas industry.
It quickly became clear that this year’s UCL Ramsay Society Debate “Does Oil Have a Future” was somewhat of a forgone conclusion; its title mirroring alarmist traditions of media headlines which you could imagine exclaiming “Oil is Dead”.
While this would be great news for atmospheric CO2 concentrations, there was agreement between the speakers that yes, oil does have a future. But the question remains, for how long?
We hope you have been keeping up with our ChemEngProfiles video blogs. Over the last few weeks, we have shared the stories of twenty chemical engineers – at various stages in their careers, and working for some of the biggest companies in the world.
Today is Day 363 and the end of my time in the blogosphere is getting closer. I have just three days left to shine a light on chemical engineering.
And since three is the magic number, according to the music of Schoolhouse Rock and De La Soul, I think it’s fitting to focus on three topics that underpin an excellent chemical engineering education. A sound knowledge of these topics, coupled with an ability to apply them in a practical setting, is a key part of the learning outcomes from an IChemE accredited degree course of which there are over 200 on offer in 60 university departments in 13 countries.
It’s fair to say that without a fundamental grounding in core chemical engineering principles, none of the achievements that I have described over the last twelve months would have been possible. And whilst this is not an exhaustive list, I’ve attempted to distil the richness of our profession into just three topics – topics that no chemical engineer can live without.
I’d be interested to hear if you agree with my three choices and, because there is no right or wrong answer in a debate like this, readers should feel free to disagree – and comment on the blog.
Without further ado, here are my top three topics:
Thermodynamicsis the branch of physics concerned with heat and temperature and their relation to energy and work. It defines macroscopic variables, such as internal energy, entropy and pressure, that partly describe a body of matter or radiation.
It’s a rite of passage for first year chemical engineering undergraduates to get to grips with the laws of thermodynamics – and seemingly endless hours spent looking at steam tables!
Thermodynamics is an essential part of chemical engineering. We need to understand how energy is transferred within a system and to its surroundings. Without it, we wouldn’t be able to analyse or design a chemical process. One the first stages of designing a process from concept phase is performing a material and energy balance. It’s a tough topic, but we’d be sunk without it.
The carbon capture pilot plant is so big that it stretches over four floors of our building, right at its centre – which is pretty impressive for a university pilot plant and helps provide a sense of scale for the real thing.
The pilot plant provides our students with an opportunity to grapple with some of the practical challenges that they will encounter in industry. It certainly presents the opportunity to hone a few of the skills that might prove useful in the future.
The name, Trevor Kletz, needs little introduction to anyone who has been involved with chemical process safety over the past forty years. Trevor died in 2013 at the age of ninety.
He is greatly missed but his impact on the chemical engineering profession was enormous and his name is rarely uttered along without the words ‘hero’ or ‘guru’ as well as ‘teacher’, ‘mentor’ or ‘friend’, in the same breath.
Trevor spent his entire career at ICI (Imperial Chemical Industries), and by the time of his retirement in 1982 he had created a safety culture within the company with a major positive impact on accident statistics.
This success was attributed to his powerful intellect on one hand, but also to his exceptional communication skills. Trevor’s ability to reduce complicated issues to simple fundamentals was the stuff of legend.
Throughout my blog, I have highlighted some important chemical engineering innovations. I wanted to shine a light on the valuable contribution that my profession makes to the world around us.
Some of the most important work that we do isn’t just using our technical knowledge; it’s talking to the next generation of chemical engineers and sharing that knowledge.
My first work experience of industrial chemistry and engineering, a summer job at Podmore and Sons pottery in Stoke-on-Trent, UK, sparked an interest that shaped my future career.
Being exposed to different careers can give a taster for chemical engineering. These experiences can spark excitement and interest that can grow into a fruitful career.
With this in mind, IChemE is proud to support an initiative run by Amec Foster Wheeler. The Amec Foster Wheeler Young Engineers Scheme (YES) has been developed by the company’s engineering teams in Reading, UK, to encourage student involvement in engineering.
Outreach is a really important part of being a chemical engineer. Inspiring the next generation of engineers should be a priority for all of us.
Throughout my year as president, I have become more aware of the great outreach initiatives and campaigns run by companies, organisations and universities around the world.
I’m proud to see so many chemical engineers who are enthusiastic about shining a light on our profession.
I recently attended a presentation given by Dr Mark Haw, senior lecturer in chemical and process engineering at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, UK. He talked about a fantastic group of researchers who run nano-themed workshops to engage with schools and the public through ‘Really Small Science‘.
So I have asked Mark to tell us more about their nano-enterprise:
Based on these experiences, I am always keen to initiate and promote new relationships between industry and academia.
However, I am by no means alone in valuing the importance of such relationships.
Delegates who attended ChemEngDayUK2015 in Sheffield, UK last month, heard from a range of industry speakers. The main conference sponsor was the German industrial conglomerate Siemens.
Sean McDonagh, who leads the chemicals team for Siemens Digital Factory Process Industries & Drives, gave a very insightful contribution during the opening session. I caught up with him shortly afterwards and he told me about one of Siemens’ latest projects – which focuses on strengthening those all important links between industry and academia.
Last year’s ChemEngDayUK, hosted by the University of Manchester, saw the official opening of a new pilot plant situated within the James Chadwick Building. The plant features Siemens’ distributed control system’. It is designed to help students learn about advanced process automation.
For an individual to excel at chemical engineering, both a good education and personal determination are needed.
Chemical engineering education must be built on a solid foundation in the fundamental principles of chemical engineering science. However, there is a need to constantly review and modernise not just our course content, but the way we deliver it as well.
Chemical engineering professor Frank Morton had some very good ideas – perhaps because he left school aged 14 and worked his way through night school and then university to achieve global recognition for his dedication to future generations of chemical engineers.
Frank was also distinguished by his care for the sporting and social side of his students’ lives (see my blog ‘Work hard, play hard‘ for the 2015 Frank Morton sports day).
Many people in the chemical engineering community have taken their inspiration from Professor Roger Sargent who served IChemE as its President in 1973. Roger is described by many as the “Father of process systems engineering”.
It was entirely fitting that IChemE should create a medal in his honour in 2014 to recognise research in computer-aided product and process engineering (CAPE).
The first recipient of the Sargent Medal is himself an undisputed leader in the field.
Roger Sargent’s influence in the field of process systems engineering is massive – not just because of his ground-breaking research, but also because of the extraordinary scale of his academic ‘family tree’ of research students. By the beginning of the 21st century, the tree included seven ‘generations’, numbering over six hundred people in all.
One of the central messages in my presidential address was the resolute assertion that chemical engineers should stand up and speak out. We need to tell the world about the difference that we make.
I’ve been repeating this mantra pretty much ever since. Indeed that’s the driving purpose behind this blog.
But there’s a key consideration in all of this that engineers of all types frequently overlook. We have to talk to the public in a language that they understand. This sometimes proves challenging because let’s be honest, some of the stuff that we do is pretty complicated.
Thirty years ago we could get away with fobbing people off with the argument that “it’s over your head; don’t worry; leave it to us…” But that won’t wash today. We have a duty to explain what we do and we must be able to explain things simply and lucidly.
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.
Tonight at 20:30, all over the world, individuals, companies, government organisations, and possibly even Her Majesty the Queen, will switch off their lights.
This symbolic gesture marks Earth Hour, initiated by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in 2007 as a lights-off event to raise awareness of climate change.
162 countries and territories worldwide now take part in Earth Hour.
You can get involved and help to raise awareness about climate change by switching off your lights at 20:30 local time for one hour. You can share your thoughts on the climate change challenge on Twitter using #YourPower.
I recently came across the story of one country, Costa Rica, whose citizens are prepared to go much further in the battle against climate change. Since the beginning of the year, Costa Rica has avoided the use of fossil fuels altogether.
The Costa Rican government recently issued a press release announcing that during the first quarter of 2015, they relied on renewables for 100 per cent of their power generation.
The classic example of an animal engineer is the beaver, behaving like a civil engineer and building dams. This made me curious to find animals that act like chemical engineers and here are my ten favourite examples:
IChemE has traditionally awarded a range of medals and prizes to acknowledge the achievements of chemical engineers around the world.
It’s one of the ways in which we recognise that chemical engineering matters at an individual (or team) level, and I always look forward to the announcement of the winners.
The medals and prizes will be presented at a range of events and locations in the months ahead, but given that the list has been publicised in the March issue of The Chemical Engineer (tce) magazine, I thought I’d take the opportunity to blog about some of the winners and their achievements.
First up is the Ambassador Prize, this year awarded to my friend and colleague, Dr Paul Fennell, for his outstanding work to bring greater understanding of chemical engineering to non-chemical engineers – from government ministers to university students and school children, to people in the pub!
I always like to hear about the achievements of chemical engineering students around the world. IChemE has a long history of recognising such achievements and its a great way of encouraging and nurturing future talent.
The Macnab Lacey Prize was created when the McNab Medal for the best student design project and the Lacey Prize for environmental thinking were merged in 2011. It is open to final-year students from all IChemE-accredited universities, rewarding the project that best contributes to a sustainable world.
I am pleased to report that a student team from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, has won this year’s MacNab Lacey Prize. And they must be doing something right at Monash, because their undergraduates have grabbed the Prize two years running.
Monash University’s winning entry was a conceptual design that determines the feasibility of using black liquor (a lignin rich co-product of wood pulp produced in paper production) as a renewable feed-stock for ammonia production.
I’ve been blogging continuously for 270 days now and I’m beginning to notice a few trends amongst my followers. Many readers are extremely interested in what chemical engineers do and where our profession can take us.
I’ve shared other people’s chemical engineering good news stories and talked about their work and their careers. But I’ve not talked about myself all that much. Unless your were present at the 2014 annual general meeting that is, where I highlighted some aspects of my career to date in my presidential address, a recording of which is available to watch here.
But it’s my birthday today – and given that birthdays are all about the birthday boy or girl – I trust you’ll allow me to offer a brief insight into my own career. So this posting describes a typical day in the life of yours truly and one that happened last week. The exploits of a professor of energy engineering at Imperial College London and IChemE president.