Source: Imperial College London
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Imperial College London: An inclusive space for the innovative chemical engineer

Contributing to technological advances that foster cleaner energy consumption. Manufacturing new vaccines to fight global diseases. Investigating better procedures to produce clean water. These are just some of the important initiatives taken on by chemical engineers — and many of them are from Imperial College London.

Ranked third in Europe and sixth in the world (QS World University Rankings 2023), Imperial is held in high regard by many of the brightest minds. Since 1907, it has been paving the way for excellence in the fields of science, engineering, business and medicine — the only UK university to solely focus on those subjects. Much of this has to do with its stellar research impact and career-defining programmes, all of which are designed to push the boundaries of modern academia as we know it.

Its professionally-accredited MEng Chemical Engineering is a prime example. Taught over the span of four years, the programme teaches students how to apply scientific, engineering and business principles to address a range of complex practical issues. At the core of this is a focus on developing the skills needed to succeed in the chemical engineering industry through research-driven, hands-on work.

Source: Imperial College London

Women make up a significant portion of the Department of Chemical Engineering student body. Source: Imperial College London

It’s delivered by Imperial’s Department of Chemical Engineering — a body that’s ranked first in the UK for the subject and has a greater proportion of four-star world-leading research than any other UK university. This has attracted more than 500 students from over 40 countries worldwide, each eager to make an impact in the field regardless of their background or ethnicity.

Here, they have an inclusive space that supports the best students and the best staff to conduct the best research and the best teaching. Women make up a large portion of the yearly student intake and are significantly represented in the faculty. In fact, 50% of lecturers in 2022 were female, a figure that’s grown steadily since 2016. Such efforts have earned the department an Athena SWAN Silver Award, a recognition for supporting gender equality in higher education and research.

Students are grounded in the practicalities of chemical engineering from their first day of classes. Core modules include process analysis, thermodynamics and physical chemistry outside of a range of fundamental subjects, including mathematics, chemistry and chemical engineering practice. Through the years, students have the chance to tailor their programmes according to their interests — helping them gain specialised experience to stand out in the industry.

Source: Imperial College London

Students have access to a range of world-class facilities that bring theories to life. Source: Imperial College London

They have access to the ChemEng Discovery Space — a collection of world-class facilities for students to put theory to practice. For example, the four-storey, state-of-the-art carbon capture pilot plant was designed to emulate many of the features graduates would find in a real chemical engineering plant. The ABB control room — the nerve centre of the plant with over two hundred ABB industrial instruments — lets students learn how to start up the facility, shut it down as well as operate it safely and efficiently, among others.

Practical classes are conducted in more than 275 square meters of laboratories which have recently been revamped to improve access for people with disabilities. All are industry-standard — meaning that professionals and commercial partners regularly use the Discovery Space for their own research efforts.

Source: Imperial College London

Support is readily given to all students, ensuring equal opportunities to succeed at Imperial. Source: Imperial College London

Imperial’s researchers are leaders in their fields, developing innovations that have contributed to solving some of the world’s greatest challenges. Research at the Department of Chemical Engineering is just as groundbreaking — from reducing carbon emissions to developing more efficient and cost-effective methods of manufacturing and distributing vaccines and other medicines at scale. As part of the department, students have access to some of the greatest minds in the field — and the chance to work on career-defining projects before they even graduate.

Each term, a dedicated Careers Service team hosts hundreds of events that help students enhance their job-readiness further. This includes the Distinguished Seminar Series, which invites notable academics from around the world to host talks on the profession, its research agenda and the future of the field. Upcoming speakers hail from the likes of Princeton and MIT.

Amidst this, students have access to a wide expanse of support services to care for their mental, emotional and physical well-being. Personal tutors are assigned as touchpoints throughout the year, and well-being advisors are available for one’s every need. Specialised support is given to students with disabilities, as well as to those on the LGBTQ+ spectrum or is looking to address gender-specific concerns.

All in all, Imperial is a safe space for everybody — regardless of background, gender or orientation — to gain a world-class experience in the heart of London. Each and every one of them has the equal opportunity to make their mark on the field, and are trained to have the skills and knowledge employers value. This makes for graduates who have an all-inclusive, diverse approach to chemical engineering — a vital quality in an ever-advancing field.

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