Chemical Engineers are involved in the conversion of raw materials into valuable products, usually on an industrial scale. Examples are: making chemicals and pharmaceuticals; biotechnology; processing polymers and foodstuffs; producing consumer goods such as washing powder and toothpaste; energy generation; wastewater treatment and environmental clean-up. Chemical Engineers know about: general science - chemistry, physics, cell biology, materials science; general engineering; information technology; economics and management; health and safety; environment and sustainability; entrepreneurship. The course at Cambridge is accredited by the Institution of Chemical Engineers.
The course is four years, and qualifies students for both the BA and MEng degrees, though it's possible to graduate after three years with the BA degree. In the first year, students usually study Natural Sciences or Engineering. The following three years are spent within the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology.
Fitzwilliam has 2-3 students in each year reading Chemical Engineering. Supervisions are arranged in collaboration with a group of other colleges, to make the teaching more effective.
Students can apply to read Chemical Engineering via Natural Sciences (UCAS code H813) or Engineering (H810). It is usually possible to change to Chemical Engineering, even if this isn't stated on the application form, if an appropriate first-year course is studied. A2 level Mathematics and Chemistry are essential. Physics is also essential at A2 level for students who are applying via Engineering. Further Mathematics and Biology at AS or A2 Level can be helpful.
The standard A Level offer for Chemical Engineering is A*A*A. The standard IB offer is 40-41 points with 776 at Higher Level.
Chemical Engineering via Engineering requires A Level (or equivalent) Maths, Physics and Chemistry.
Chemical Engineering via Natural Sciences requires A Level (or equivalent) Maths and Chemistry.
Applicants are required to sit the admissions written assessment in the subject they are applying via, prior to being called to interview. More information can be found on the University website.
Life after Cambridge
There are many career opportunities, and graduates might work as field engineers, be part of research teams, or occupy management positions. There are plenty of challenges, and the potential for travel all over the world. Chemical Engineers are, on average, better paid than pure scientists and engineers from other disciplines. The wide variety of skills acquired during the undergraduate course also provides career opportunities outside the discipline. About 50% of Cambridge Chemical Engineering graduates go into the chemical, process and food industries, 20% go into finance and management, and 15% go into further education and research.