School Head: Professor Don MacElroy
What are the different (undergraduate entry) courses run by this School?
Chemical Engineering is the branch of Engineering which involves the application of chemistry for the development and large-scale production of products and services which contribute to every aspect of our daily lives and which directly improve the quality of human life. Chemical Engineers are directly involved in the development and production of everything from energy (via both traditional and renewable sources) and clean water to pharmaceuticals, microelectronics and high-tech materials.
Bioprocess Engineering is closely related to Chemical Engineering, but it involves the combination of engineering principles with biology, to allow us to successfully harness the power of living cells to produce valuable products such as antibiotics, anti-cancer agents and vaccines.
For students interested in either Chemical Engineering or Bioprocess Engineering, UCD offers two entry routes. Both routes involve 4-year programmes of study, culminating in the award of an Honours BE degree.
The degree is professionally accredited by Engineers Ireland, so the qualification is professionally recognised, world-wide. Importantly, it’s also accredited at Master’s level by the international Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE). This means that graduates enter the work-force with the same academic and professional standing as Master’s level graduates from UK and internationally based universities.
DN150 (Engineering – Omnibus) allows you to defer making a decision on which branch of Engineering you wish to pursue until the end of your first year. At that time, if you’re still interested in Chemical Engineering or Bioprocess Engineering, you can choose to enter the 2nd year of the Chemical Engineering or Bioprocess Engineering programme. If, when you’re completing the CAO form, you’re undecided between a wider range of Engineering disciplines (e.g. if you’re torn between Chemical Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Civil Engineering), then this is the best entry route for you.
All students enrolling in any Engineering programme at UCD follow a largely common course of study during 1st Year. Initially, you’ll focus on the sciences (Chemistry and Physics) and you’ll further develop your mathematical skills.
You’ll also be introduced to the Engineering sciences which underpin all Engineering disciplines, through subjects such as thermodynamics, mechanics, fluid mechanics and electronics. And you’ll receive your first introduction to Chemical & Bioprocess Engineering principles.
As part of the UCD Horizons initiative, you’ll choose two elective modules, either from within Engineering or from any of the enormous range of disciplines offered at UCD. If you’ve ever wanted to study another language, learn more about Greek & Roman civilisation or get an introduction to Business, then this is your opportunity to do so!
During the second year of your studies, you’ll notice that your curriculum has begun to emphasis Chemical & Bioprocess Engineering. In lectures, you’ll learn about fluid flow, heat transfer and mass transfer; you’ll study more applied aspects of physical and organic chemistry. In related laboratory sessions, you’ll put these principles into practice.
At the end of the second year, you can decide whether to specialise in Chemical Engineering or Bioprocess Engineering. However, these two sub-disciplines are closely related and, for the remaining two years, students from both disciplines will take the majority of their courses together. All 2nd year students take two elective modules.
In 3rd Year, students have a real sense of getting to the heart of Chemical & Bioprocess Engineering. In lectures, you’ll learn about the Unit Operations (evaporation, distillation, extraction, absorption) which are the building blocks for almost all Chemical processes; in the Unit Operations laboratory, you’ll run your own distillation on a pilot scale distillation column.
You’ll study reactor design, which allows Chemical & Bioprocess Engineers to reliably and reproducibly scale-up a chemical or biological process from a laboratory test tube to a production scale reactor. And you’ll take get to choose one elective module.
During the Summer at the end of 3rd Year, UCD Chemical & Bioprocess Engineering students are strongly encouraged to apply for an Internship in industry and School assists students in securing these positions.
In 4th Year, the emphasis is on project work. In addition to a series of core lecture modules and one elective module, students work on two major projects.
During the Research Project, you’ll be assigned to an academic supervisor, working on every aspect of a project, designing and performing experiments, collecting and analysing data. The projects, which are in areas as diverse as distillation optimisation, nanotechnology, molecular simulation and mammalian cell culture, are generally associated with research groups within the School.
The Design Project, which is undertaken by groups of 5-6 students, requires the complete design of a process for the production of a chemical or biochemical product and includes process selection, equipment design and specification as well as safety, environmental and economic analyses. The Design Project offers students an invaluable and challenging opportunity to combine almost all of the Engineering theory and apply all of the Engineering skills they’ve acquired since first enrolling in UCD.
What facilities does the department have to support these courses?
The UCD School of Chemical & Bioprocess Engineering is the oldest and largest such school in the country. Based in the Engineering & Materials Science Centre at Belfield, the School has dedicated Chemistry and Unit Operations laboratories, maintained by highly qualified technical staff, allowing students the opportunity not to just learn about Chemical & Bioprocess Engineering processes but to see them in action. The use of IT is central to all modern engineering and Chemical & Bioprocess Engineers are trained in the application of relevant computational tools and methods.
What connections does the department have with Industry?
Chemical Engineering and Bioprocess Engineering are strongly applied disciplines. So it’s essential that our graduates understand how the relevant theory is put into practice. By spending the Summer at the end of 3rd Year working in industry, students gain an appreciation of the diverse roles played by Chemical & Bioprocess Engineers in the chemical, pharmaceutical and allied sectors. This opportunity also helps students to identify the particular career path they’d like to choose for themselves on graduation.
The School maintains very close contact with our graduates in industry, many of whom return each year to recruit Interns for Summer employment and to recruit for Graduate positions. And we regularly invite graduates to meet and speak with our undergraduate students.
For students who may be interested taking a year out of their studies (between 3rd and 4th Year), there are opportunities for year-long industrial Internships. And for students who are attracted by the possibility of a year abroad, the School is involved in Erasmus programmes with high-ranking universities in France and Germany, where students may choose to spend the 3rd year of their studies.
How many students do you accept each year on these courses?
What particular attributes are required by students taking this course?
Chemical Engineering and Bioprocess Engineering are strongly applied disciplines and prospective candidates should be interested in putting science (Chemistry and/or Biology) into practice!
An aptitude for mathematics is also essential. When we design a chemical process or produce a vaccine, we can’t hope that it will work, we need to have performed the necessary calculations, modelling and simulations beforehand, to know that it will work, and this requires mathematics!
Chemical Engineering and Bioprocess Engineering are both academically challenging courses, requiring consistent and sustained student effort over the four years of the programme. But our drop-out rates are extremely low. Relatively small class numbers ensure an excellent class spirit. And members of the academic staff are always available to answer questions and provide support.
Where did last years graduates go?
This can be broken down statistically on a per course basis i.e. 20% went on to further education, 20% found employment in the IT sector, 20% found employment in manufacturing, 20% went into research and the remainder have taken a year off.
Even in the face of the economic down-turn the Irish Pharmaceutical/Chemical industry has remained stable, and it continues to make an enormous contribution to the Irish economy.
More than 16 of the world’s Top 20 Pharmaceutical companies have production facilities in Ireland and UCD Chemical & Bioprocess Engineers play key roles within these companies. Typically up to 50% of our graduates are recruited directly into the pharmaceutical or related sectors in Ireland. Annually, about 20% of our graduates choose to pursue postgraduate degrees; there are ample opportunities for postgraduate research in UCD but our graduates are also welcomed into the most prestigious research institutions in the US and the UK.
The remainder find employment with in the wider process industry or in the business world. Because our graduates are characterised by excellent problem-solving and mathematical skills, many UCD Chemical Engineering and Bioprocess Engineering graduates are recruited directly by accountancy or management consultancy firms. A degree in either Chemical Engineering or Bioprocess Engineering doesn’t prepare you for a specific job; it prepares you for a range of diverse careers.
Why should students choose the UCD School of Chemical & Bioprocess Engineering?
The first UCD degrees in Chemical Engineering were awarded in 1956. Since that time, the School has graduated over 1000 Chemical Engineers, more than 70% of whom are currently employed in Ireland. The UCD School of Chemical & Bioprocess Engineering is dedicated to maintaining the highest standards in education and research.
Among Chemical Engineering schools, we hold one of the highest university research rankings in Europe (based on both research income and scholarly publications); the School is at the forefront of new developments in Bioprocess Engineering, Pharmaceutical Processing and Solar Energy Conversion. We are particularly proud of the excellent relationships that exist between academic staff, our undergraduate students and our graduates.
View additional videos from the school of Chemical & Bioprocess Engineering here.