Imperial College London

Chemical Engineering Summer School 2015


Chemical Engineering Summer School 2015

Undergraduate students from around the world have been taking part on our 2015 Summer School programme

Our 2015 Summer School programmes are now well under way and we are delighted to welcome students from around the world who are embarking on programmes designed to expand their knowledge outside traditional term time and specifically constructed for groups from overseas academic institutions.

It was a really neat experience, really unique!

University of Notre Dame student

In each of the programmes the students are offered world-class training in a tight and demanding schedule combining teaching, laboratory experiments, and a unique experience in our state-of-the-art carbon capture pilot plant.

“The summer school provides a capstone experience for our students” says Professor Joseph Schork (School of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology), who is accompanying and tutoring the students from Georgia Tech, “In my opinion the Department of Chemical Engineering at Imperial is the best in Europe, highlighted by its pilot plant facility which provides a unique experience for our students. Moreover the cultural, social (and language) experience of working in a different country is more important for our students than they know – when they go to industry they will end up on at least one assignment overseas and the programme perfectly primes them for this.” 

This year we are running four concurrent, bespoke programmes:

28 students join us from the University of Notre Dame on a 6-week programme; they are accompanied by Professor Salma Saddawi who has also been tutoring the students. Read an interview with Marissa Martinez and Daniel Quigley from the University of Notre Dame (via Notre Dame International).

Summer school students from University of Notre Dame

Notre Dame summer school students

11 students from Georgia Institute of Technology are on a 5-week programme and are accompanied by Professor Joseph Schork whose involvement with the summer school stretches 40 years.

Summer school students from Georgia Tech

Georgia Tech summer school students

11 students from Cornell University are on a 5-week programme. Professor Alan Feitelberg, Senior Lecturer in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Cornell University, will also be visiting the Department and engaging in some of the Summer School’s activities.

Summer school students from Cornell University

Cornell University summer school students

On 20th July, 18 students started our Foundation Course for Cornell M.Eng. This 4-week intensive course is for students from around the world who have been accepted onto the Cornell University M.Eng and gives them an opportunity to fast-track their studies which commence formally in August.

Cornell Foundation Course students

Summer School students on our Foundation Course for Cornell M.Eng

Educational programme

Pilot Plant

Our carbon capture pilot plant, which is the most advanced educational facility of its kind in the world, allows students to acquire a practical experience of many of the key aspects of design and operation of a large scale process plant controlled using a full industrial control system, including cutting-edge instruments provided by the sponsors ABB.

The lab opportunities are state-of-the-art … and then the pilot plant really just blew me away!

– Cornell University student

After significant training on safety, carbon capture theory, reading piping & installation diagrams (PIDs), the students start up a carbon-capture pilot plant, bring it to steady state, and then simulate a shift turnover.  The incoming shift operates the plant, and then shuts it down. This gives the students a real-world industrial training experience which is uniquely available here at Imperial.

Notre Dame summer school students in the Imperial College pilot plant


Teaching activities include tutorials, lectures  and problem-solving classes, on topics ranging from typical academic Chemical Engineering modules to lessons which enhance their wider skillset e.g. on writing and delivering presentations, and writing up clear and detailed lab reports.


In our well-equipped undergraduate laboratories, the students have been carrying out experiments on topics including thermodynamics, reaction engineering, heat and mass transfer/transport, analytical chemistry, process instrumentation and chemical synthesis. See a selection of the experiments on offer. In addition, this year the teaching labs were fitted out with a number of brand new bespoke rigs including a heat exchanger trainer, which provides students the opportunity to determine the efficiency of a variety of types of heat exchangers under varying flow patterns.

Summer school students working on the new heat exchanger teaching rig

Rig building challenge

In small teams the students design and build a closed rig to independently control the depth of water and flow rate to a small tank. Over the course of the exercise the students become familiar with process equipment, develop practical project management and problem solving skills, gain experience in producing standard documentation (i.e. standard operating procedures (SOPs) and piping and instrumentation diagrams (P&IDs)).

Summer school student labs

Cultural experience

In addition to the formal curriculum, the students are exposed to an authentic experience of life in and outside London. Several social events are organised, such as a visit to Windsor, Bath and Stonehenge, and students are encouraged to explore the UK and its surrounding countries in their free time. To cap the cultural experience we also hold an annual summer school five-a-side football (a.k.a. soccer) competition – congratulations to this year’s winners the Notre Dame B team who scored 4 goals (including the goal of the tournament; a cheeky back heel by Peter McGrane) and remained undefeated on their way to claiming the Inter College five-a-side trophy!

The winners of the 2nd Inter College 5-a-side football tournament, Notre Dame 'B'

The winners of the 2nd Inter College 5-a-side football tournament, Notre Dame 'B'




Interviews with the 2014 students:YouTube placeholder


Michael Panagopulos

Michael Panagopulos
Department of Chemical Engineering

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