Current Chemical and Bioprocessing Engineering student Sandi Ndebele explains what attracted him to study Engineering in UCD

When I tell someone I study chemical engineering in UCD I usually get the same reaction in exactly the same sequence, “ooohh that sounds hard”, to “but you’ll probably make loads of money from it” and finally “what do you actually do”. Sometimes I want to explain that there’s so much more to chemical engineering and so much more to studying it than just the money.

What you’ll actually do!

First off though what exactly do we do? The dictionary definition of chemical engineering is “Chemical engineering is a branch of engineering that applies physical sciences (physics and chemistry) and life sciences (microbiology and biochemistry) together with applied mathematics and economics to produce, transform, transport, and properly use chemicals, materials and energy”. Very complicated I know but to put it as simply as possible we make stuff.

A Chemical Engineering degree from UCD teaches you the basis of most of the processes that make all the things you use. Whether it is plastics, polymers, pharmaceuticals, oil and gas, food, beverages, paints, cements, the list goes on and on and on. A UCD Chemical Engineering degree teaches you how to design these processes which in the end make people’s lives better. To put it into perspective in my first semester of second year my project for about 10-12 weeks was to simulate a heart and lung machine (These are used in open heart surgery to keep the patient alive and keep oxygen rich blood pumping around their body).

For me this combined my favorite things about studying engineering in UCD in general

1) A really cool real world application which in this case would indeed save people’s lives

2) A perfect example of why learning all that maths and all that Microsoft excel is actually useful

3) A practical approach to teaching which involves having you actually design something using all the technical stuff you’ve learned in class.

You’ll learn about everything from a little programming to cell biology to genetic engineering to diseases to calculus to fluid mechanics etc etc etc. If anything it’s the perfect opportunity to bamboozle your friends in other courses with complex sounding phrases like “membrane diffusion” and “linear first order differential equation” (Actually that last one is still pretty tough in my head but never mind you’ll probably get it and really they just need to think you know what you’re talking about… just don’t talk to pure maths students and you’ll be fine!)

Skills Skills and more Skills

One of the things I mentioned earlier is that people always say “but you’ll make a lot of money from doing chemical engineering”. What they really mean is you’re probably going to be one of the most employable people around even during your degree in UCD. You’re taught a number of skills that really set you apart from people studying other courses elsewhere. There’s a significant emphasis on group work in engineering and chemical engineering in UCD. In the space of 1st year (24 weeks) I worked on close to 10 group projects and in 2nd year around 5 or 6 large scale projects. You’ll be trained to understand groups and to understand how to make them work. You’ll also be taught how to manage projects and how to manage people. Finally you’ll be taught how to approach problems and how to handle tasks in which you’re given some but not all of the information. These skills are important wherever you end up working.

For example I wrote this sitting in a bed in the middle of cork during my internship in AbbVie. I could have written it from a bed in the middle of Dublin during my internship in Deloitte (They do stuff that has absolutely nothing to do with engineering, I would’ve been an auditing intern!), the point is the skills I learned from being in chemical engineering would’ve been just as relevant. To put it further into perspective even in my internship in a pharmaceutical company the work I was doing was in management and business excellence i.e managing departments, groups and individuals. My manager (the Head of Business Excellence) is himself a UCD Chemical Engineering graduate. (I know right? what are the chances? I could be his Jon Snow… trained up to command… before being violently murdered by my own brothers and resurrected by a red priestess! *sighs*, but I digress also SPOILER ALERT).

So to sum up studying Chemical Engineering in UCD is challenging (you WILL be stressed and you WILL come home and beg your girlfriend to get you some Ben and Jerry’s so you can grieve in your darkened room alone … trust me I know…), but it is also incredibly interesting, practical, fun and most of all you get to spend your time afterwards working wherever you so choose. It’s a win win win….win… win situation!

At the end of your degree

By the time you finish your degree here in UCD the below couple of images will make perfect sense to you! I SWEAR!


I promise this will make sense…. seriously…. It will!!


So will this …(p.s its just a part of a game of hangman !:D)


This will definitely make sense … probably already makes sense right now 😛


Hopefully this will make sense to you :L

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