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Student Diary | A day in the life of a Chemical Engineering student

Student Diary | A day in the life of a Chemical Engineering student

by Jess

Curious to find out what a typical day would be for an engineering student? Find out what Jess thinks of her course and the realities of student life...

Hi, my name is Jess and I am in a final year MEng Chemical Engineering with Placement Year student.

Newcastle was my first-choice university, as I grew up in a very small town in Berkshire and wanted to move somewhere with a good reputation for engineering as well as somewhere exciting. Newcastle is great fun and there is always something going on. With excellent music venues such as the Utilita Area, great sport at St James’ Park and lots of bars and clubs!

I completed 3 years of the MEng and decided that I wanted to go out in industry to gain some practical experience. This meant that I had to complete third year whilst completing job applications which isn’t for the faint-hearted! With the help of the careers service, I got my CV and documents to a high standard and took part in mock interviews with real employers which prepared me well for the real thing. I secured a placement with SABIC UK Petrochemicals in Teesside. I worked there as part of the Technical Team as a Process Engineer for 13 months and I am now back in Stage 4 for my masters. The degree at Newcastle definitely prepared me well for my placement and now I am back I have a totally different perspective on how things work having seen them in industry.

The schedule for the degree varies from year to year. Chemical Engineering has a large number of contact hours compared to some other courses – so expect to be busy!

A lot of time is spent in labs, computing sessions and tutorials as well as lectures so you get a wide variety compared to other courses.

For me, I got into the habit early on of going into uni every day even if there’s only a few hours of lectures. This helped me get into a routine and make time for my assignments. It is definitely a steep learning curve adjusting to the workload and balancing priorities, but learning how to manage time and prioritising tasks was invaluable when on placement so the course helps prepare you in that respect too.

There’s an assignment associated with the majority of modules, a lot of which are group work. This helps to simulate a ‘design team’ situation and allows you to develop team-working and leadership skills, whilst also allowing you to meet lots of new people on the course. The course is very sociable as you spend all this time working together, allowing you to make great friends. I don’t think I would have got through the past 4 years without the support and help from my course mates.

In terms of the course content, there is a wide variety. In the first couple of years you do lots of individual core subjects like Chemistry and Engineering Maths, but also start learning the basics of Chemical Engineering and do modules in Process Safety, Process Economics and Sustainability.

As the degree progresses, the content becomes more applied. For example in third year you take part in a team design project, and mine was designing a whisky distillery.

In my spare time I enjoy spending time with my friends and going to the pub. I also play for the university squash team, playing weekly against other universities on a Wednesday afternoon (which is always kept free of lectures to allow you to play sport/take part in societies). I play for the Chemical Engineering netball team as well, which is a fantastic way to meet people off the course in all year groups.

This has been an asset to me, as returning from placement meant I moved into the year below – so knowing people has made that a lot better for me. The Chemical Engineering Society puts on lots of social events such as nights out, an end of year ball and an annual trip abroad to name a few! I have participated in the Amsterdam and Prague trips.

Hopefully that gives you a small flavour of what the course and Newcastle has to offer you!



Interested in finding out more about Engineering at Newcastle University? Discover the practicalities of our different Engineering degrees, career prospects, and opportunities to study abroad in our Engineering subject page.