Imperial College London

Chemical Engineering Summer School 2016


Summer School students in the Pilot Plant

Cornell students with Dr Colin Hale

Our successful Summer School programme continued this year, with a record number of 62 students from around the world.

This year we welcomed three groups from universities in the United States: students from University of Notre Dame, Georgia Tech and Cornell University (as well as two students who applied individually from Istanbul and Dublin) came to carry out hands-on experiments at our world-class teaching facilities - the Discovery Space Laboratories and the Carbon Capture Pilot Plant

Cornell students in the Pilot Plant

Cornell students in the Pilot Plant

I would definitely recommend the Summer School to anyone in my university who wants a new and challenging experience abroad. The Pilot Plant is a selling point and the rig building challenge is a great way to get creative and use our ingenuity.

– Nasser

Georgia Tech student

Our undergraduate students use these facilities every day and develop essential engineering skills here during their studies. However, from June the facilities are much less busy when our students go on vacation; one of the reasons why we decided to start a unique Summer School.

Chemical engineering departments from all around the world have the opportunity to apply for our exciting five-week programme to have a chance of utilising our exceptional facilities and experiencing the spirit of the cultural capital of the world, London.

The programme can be customised according to the institution’s needs, for instance they select from the 45 experiments available within our world-renown MEng undergraduate labs. Amongst this year's choices included experiments on heat exchangers, flow lines, pipe flow, Rankine cycle and residence time distribution. The students also performed the popular rig building exercise where they are formed into teams and given two days to build a fully-working closed rig in order to be able to independently control the depth of water and the flow rate in the tank. The rig building exercise is a fun way of becoming familiar with fundamental process units (such as valves and pumps) and it also involves a great deal of creativity as the students are required to design, build and document the whole process as well as understand their role within a team.

Rig Building

Rig Building challenge


In addition to the lab work they attended lectures given by their own professors who accompanied them to the Summer School. The students also spent two weeks in the Carbon Capture Pilot Plant, familiarising themselves with the theory behind carbon capture, plant operational procedures, piping and instrumentation diagrams, safety and emergency situations. Operating the Pilot Plant is in itself a unique and once-in-a-lifetime experience but together with the labs and the rig building, this five-week Summer School was without doubt unforgettable.

In their free time the students took part in various cultural and sport activities. Some of them travelled to Stonehenge, Bath and Windsor, others visited the Globe Theatre, the Greenwich Meridian and the Tower of London. We also organised a 5-a-side football ("soccer") tournament, where the Georgia Tech team were declared the overall winners, with three wins and a draw. 

Georgia Tech football team

Congratulations to the winning 5-a-side football team from Georgia Tech

We asked some of the Summer School students about their experiences at Imperial: 

"I wanted to experience studying abroad and also Imperial is one of the top engineering institutes in the world and it was a great opportunity for me. London was an added bonus as the city has so much to see and do. The hands-on application of a fully functioning plant was very beneficial and applied all the years of education into one system. This was one of the main reasons why I applied to the summer program as well." - Nasser, Georgia Tech

"I would recommend the summer school for every chemical engineering student because it was very educational and fun at the same time. I would especially recommend the last two weeks of summer school which were basically rig building and pilot plant experiments. Building a rig is a much better way of learning than reading about different rigs and their performances. Also working with Dr Hale in Pilot Plant was a great experience since he always makes us think about every single detail by asking meaningful questions that we should consider." - Lale, Istanbul Technical University

"I chose to apply to the Imperial Chemical Engineering Summer School mostly for two reasons. First, no program in the States, as far as I understand, has the access to the extent of industry relevant equipment and technology that Imperial does. Having just finished my second year of school as a chemical engineering student I am still trying to explore just what opportunities are open to me after graduation. Imperial allowed for me to understand to a far greater degree what working in a plant entails. Second, the international experience is simply not attainable in the States. In six weeks I was able to visit five different countries as well as some smaller towns around the UK... We were able to attend one of the top chemical engineering colleges in the world, and learn from distinguished faculty. Genuinely it was six incredible weeks that provided a healthy mix of academics and extra curricular activities." - Alex, University of Notre Dame

[Article written by Dora Olah an Undergraduate student in the Department.]

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Summer School students at the leaving reception


Michael Panagopulos

Michael Panagopulos
Department of Chemical Engineering

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