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Homepage / Why study chemical engineering?

Why study chemical engineering?

04/11/2020

I first heard about Cranfield University when I was about to start the final year of study for my engineering diploma at the University of Technology of Compiègne (UTC) in France. There is a partnership programme between UTC and Cranfield University which enables students to obtain both an engineering diploma and an MSc degree. I thought that this would be a great opportunity for me to broaden my knowledge, and to experience a different educational system and culture as well. So after a short consideration, I decided to come to Cranfield to complete my MSc study in Energy and Power at the School of Water, Energy and Environment.

I chose to study Advanced Chemical Engineering mainly because of two reasons. Firstly, I have a background in Process Engineering, which means that I am familiar with the basic knowledge and concepts which are necessary for studying chemical engineering. Secondly, I have always been very interested in subjects related to waste management, clean energy and environmental protection, which are all covered by the modules taught at Cranfield University.

Environmental protection is everyone’s responsibility, and I believe that everyone is able to make a positive difference, no matter how small or insignificant it seems, if we really try. As a student in the field of Energy and Power, my aim is to help find a solution for the current resource depletion problem, and push the transition from conventional fossil fuels to renewable energy. The thesis that I completed for my MSc degree at Cranfield University was a part of a project which focuses on the production of low-carbon hydrogen. I carried out research on the dispersion of the emissions from the hydrogen plant, assessed the potential impacts of the plant, and proposed several recommendations to reduce its negative impacts on the surrounding environment. The thesis project went very well globally, and I was very glad that I was able to contribute to the design and construction of the hydrogen plant.

Currently, I am in France to complete my final semester at UTC in order to obtain my engineering diploma. However, I am planning on returning to Cranfield University to continue my PhD study. I have always wanted to pursue a career in academia. My previous internships in university laboratories and R&D centres reassured myself of my decision. Therefore, doing a PhD will be a fundamental and essential step in order to achieve this goal. Since I am very interested in the project I worked for during my thesis, I have decided to continue focusing on the production of low-carbon hydrogen.

For me, the best thing about working in STEM is that we are able to solve concrete problems that are related to our daily life. The progress and achievements made in the field of engineering are not abstract, we are able to actually see the changes we are making to the world, and I find that really exciting and inspiring. However, it is quite sad that a lot of young people are not very keen in studying in the field of STEM. I come from China where there is a very popular saying amongst high school students, “when choosing a major for university, remember to avoid these four subjects: biological, chemical, environmental and materials engineering”. One possible reason for this is because engineering is considered to be difficult, boring and stressful. And young female students are more often to be discouraged by these sayings and giving up on studying engineering, even though they are very interested in it. I noticed that in engineering schools (both in Europe and in Asia), the number of boys is often, if not always, much higher than the number of girls. However, I have also noticed that both boys and girls are able to achieve great results as long as they work hard and put their hearts into their work. Therefore, I would also like to take this opportunity to encourage anyone who is interested in engineering, especially young female students, to pursue your dream. Together, we will be able to achieve great things and make a difference to the world we are living in.

 

Written by: Siqi Wang

Written By: Tom Jaycocks

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  1. Frédéric Coulon 04/11/2020 at 9:40 pm - Reply

    Hi Siqi
    Not sure what your PhD plan are but wondering whether you will be interested in the below

    The interview is fixed on the 18th of November, with possibility to apply until the 11th November by contacting my colleague Dr Imma Bortone Imma.Bortone@cranfield.ac.uk

    Please see below the project’s description.

    Modelling biochar-colloids transport in the subsurface

    Groundwater and soil pollution is a great cause of concern for drinking-water sources, as toxic chemicals continue to contaminate subsurface reservoirs via wastewater, agricultural runoff, storm water, air pollution, and polluted soils..
    Various alternative options for water remediation technologies, based on the use of advanced materials to adsorb pollutants, have been developed recently. Among them, biochar (BC), namely biomass-derived charcoal, and hydrogel BC composite (HBC) have been recognised as being effective in treating a wide range of pollutants typically occurring in drinking water, such as microbial, inorganic and organic contaminants1-3. BC has a wide particle size distribution and contains a substantial fraction of colloids and nanoparticles4. It is produced by decomposition of a wide range of biomass carbon-rich materials that includes wood based agricultural residues and other waste products5,6.
    BC materials have shown to be sustainable, cost-effective, and a promising technology for water and soil applications, by increasing potential for agronomic and environmental benefits, e.g., enhancing carbon sequestration, nutrient retention, water holding capacity, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and bioavailability of environmental contaminants7. However, colloidal and nanoscale BC particles have not only an affinity with pollutants but also the potential to be transported through porous media by water flow, especially after a rainfall event. Therefore, BC colloid-facilitated transport of contaminants and BC colloids can pose a potential environmental risk for groundwater and, consequently, for human health.
    This project aspires to develop prediction and decision tools combining subsurface main flow and transport phenomena, removal mechanisms, and option appraisal processes to determine the impact of the use of BC in the subsurface over time.
    New knowledge and understanding will be generated on the mechanisms governing water flow and transport of colloids and pollutants from the vadose zone to groundwater, physico-chemical interaction with soil and biodegradation of BC in the long term.

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