Can biobased plastics be produced on a large scale? Can we convert CO2 into useful chemical products? How can you ensure that factories operate in a clean, safe and efficient way?
Chemical engineers work on the production of chemicals at industrial scale. The Bachelor in Chemical Engineering at the University of Groningen will prepare you towards this profession. You will learn to deal with chemical processes on a large scale, to develop new chemical products and to design improved catalysts for the targeted reactions. At the same time you will learn to evaluate and improve the safety and sustainability of chemical processes. Along the way you will be also stimulated to develop your critical thinking skills and your problem-solving attitude.
The fascinating thing about Chemical Engineering is that you will be involved in the development of new products but you will also think about the production process and about the catalyst that is needed to promote the reaction. A Chemical Engineer is concerned with the entire development of a new product or processes, from A to Z. This means you will learn much more than just how chemical reactions work. Chemical Engineers at the University of Groningen, for example, have developed a new process for the production of biodiesels as well as new polymeric products for the oil industry and for high- tech applications.
Choose Groningen and you can't go wrong!
Groningen is the only University where you can study both Chemistry and Chemical Engineering. If you find it hard to choose between a Bachelor's degree programme in chemistry or in chemical engineering, Groningen is the place to be. The first year of both programmes is identical so you don't have to make a definite choice until your second year. It's very likely that you don't yet know which specialization to choose, so you won't have to decide until the second year.
Listen to the podcast!
Want to know more about this Bachelor's programme? Listen to the podcast with a student and lecturer of the Chemical Engineering programme. You can listen to the podcast here. (Please note: podcast is in Dutch).
It turns out to be exactly the difficulty where I excel most
I knew quite early on that I wanted to study Chemical Engineering, at first it was driven by finding a combination of Chemistry, Math and Physics, which were the courses I excelled most at in my earlier education. Later I decided the relevance of the topic to a global perspective is also a great motivation for me. Although the degree isn’t quite what I had expected, I still enjoy all my courses. I did expect more number crunching theoretical math and pure physics of the whole world. The programme still has these aspects, but just applied to the cases relevant for chemical engineering, such as thermodynamics and physical transport phenomena. It turns out to be exactly the difficulty where I excel most, just hard enough to keep me interested but not too hard to be demotivating.
In chemical engineering projects are very important, and quite a few of the courses are focused on this. I’m currently working on one project, which looks for solutions of the process of making Dimethyl Ether (DME) from Methanol. This process has many challenges, but more difficult, it is an equilibrium reaction, meaning you can never get to a full conversion (most efficiently). Later I will work on my bachelor's thesis where I hope to research the potential of a new industrial solvent, supercritical CO 2 , which would create a huge impact on the industry.
Throughout my studies here in Groningen I’ve really enjoyed the student culture, I have been a member of 4 student associations, and even done 2 board years. The study association de Chemische Binding is where I’ve made many friends and where I frequently spend my study breaks. After my bachelors I want to focus my studies to a more specific area of industry, namely, Bioengineering, a fusion of chemical engineering and biology.
Best of both worlds
I have always been drawn to science. However, I used to hate chemistry in secondary school, and only became fascinated by how broad the field is—from the food and energy industries to medicine— when I grew up. It also allows us to understand the many attractive properties of the world around us and create new materials that can be used in fascinating ways.
I study both Chemical Engineering and Chemistry. Studying Chemical Engineering allows me to gain more practical knowledge of the applications of chemistry, which, in my opinion, opens the door to job opportunities in the chemical industry. I want to pursue a career in industry, rather than in academia, for which I can see that Chemistry is better suited. But doing both degrees gives me the best of both worlds: theoretical and practical knowledge.
As soon as I arrived in Groningen, the city had a certain something that captivated me instantly. It is not a big city, and this gives it a familiar feel; the easiness to meet new people, the everyday fun that the city offers. It is very different from Madrid, the big capital where I was born and raised, and it is something I love about Groningen.
My favourite aspect of this programme is its practical nature, which allows students to apply the knowledge learnt to solve real-life problems. This way, you feel like everything you are studying will be helpful in your future career. Another essential feature of this programme is the attention the teaching staff pay to the students, which smoothens the process of learning and provides a feeling of familiarity, which, in my opinion, is one of the key values of the University.
When I am not busy studying, I like to keep myself active. I do not play any specific sports, but I go to the gym regularly. I also like to play the piano in my free time. It helps to clear my mind when I am stressed. Currently, I am working as a teaching assistant for a first-year course unit in Linear Algebra.
My goal for the near future is to get involved in an internship or a project that might launch me into the work field while I am finishing my studies. In the long run, I plan to do my Master’s and hopefully get an energy-related job in the industry, as that is my current specialization and primary interest.