Hat-trick of nominations propels University of Chester’s Chemical Engineering Department to finals of prestigious international awards.

Innovative teaching methods and unique courses developed through close collaborations with industry partners have earned the University of Chester’s Department of Chemical Engineering worldwide recognition.

This year, the Department was involved in a trio of nominations in the prestigious 2019 IChemE (Institution of Chemical Engineers) Global Awards ceremony, hosted by actor Warwick Davis, in Hull on November 7.

The IChemE awards celebrate outstanding achievement in chemical, biochemical and process engineering and highlight how these disciplines are providing solutions to major issues facing societies internationally.

The University, in partnership with a group of companies including Unilever, Cavendish Nuclear and AECOM, is pioneering a new model for training engineering graduates. The Chemical Engineering Degree Apprenticeships are the first in the UK to offer flexi-learning degrees that have been created to train the next generation of professional chemical engineers. The programme was nominated for the IChemE Team Award 2019.

Professor Steve Wilkinson, Head of Chemical Engineering at the University of Chester, said: “This will create a new type of chemical engineering graduate, who will earn their degree without debt and with four- or-five years industrial experience, ready to move into roles of greater responsibility. The degree apprenticeships provide a fast-track to chartership for the leaders of the future, providing a completely new way to train and recruit high calibre graduates.”

Twenty-two-year-old Angus Strowbridge, a process engineering technician at AECOM in Leeds, is undertaking a degree apprenticeship in Chemical Engineering at the University. Angus, who started his apprenticeship degree course in September, was a finalist for the IChemE Young Industrialist 2019.

In a separate initiative, the University, in collaboration with the IChemE Nuclear Technology Special Interest Group, was also nominated for another IChemE award in the Training and Development category, for a new lecture series to teach nuclear technology.

Taught by chartered engineers from a range of companies including Sellafield Ltd., Rolls-Royce and EDF Energy, the lectures aim to bridge the gap between academia and the nuclear industry, showcasing the different engineering roles available and the critical work undertaken by chemical engineers in the sector.

Bill Harper, of Sellafield Ltd., explained: “We developed this lecture series for the final year MEng students who have done the theory and now want to apply it.

“We’ve been really impressed by the number of busy professionals who want to give up their time to inspire the next generation of chemical engineers. The bonus is that it has given students an insight into future job opportunities and some valuable case studies that they can use at interviews.”

Lee Greenlees, from Rolls Royce in Derby, who helps deliver the sessions added: “We hope that other universities and industries will be interested in following this collaborative teaching model.”

Steve commented: “It’s an honour for the University of Chester to be recognised in this way – and to work alongside people throughout industry that are as passionate about learning as we are.”

Angus, who attended the ceremony with his managers from AECOM, was disappointed not to win the award for which he was nominated, but added: “The awards’ ceremony was a great night, but not a late one for me since I had an early start at work the next day!

“Life is pretty full on for me renovating my house at the weekends and studying at Chester alongside my job – but I’m absolutely loving the opportunity.”