See the article on BBC news.
March 2010 Archives
See the article on BBC news.
By John Baker
Good news at my local comprehensive school - science subjects are popular again. Indeed, over half the lower sixth are doing physics!
But at 16-17 years of age, many pupils do not know what to expect of a career if they follow up their school science with a university degree.
Which is why I and 30-plus other parents were invited in to school last week to meet pupils and describe our jobs and careers after studying science at university. Needless to say, I was talking about science writing and journalism, but there were engineers, physicists, energy specialists and software experts there. Many with high-powered PhDs and more.
In one-on-one or small group discussions, it was vey heartening to see how much good questioning there was from the pupils - and their concerned parents, many of whom tagged along.
Unfortunately, as the school is in deepest Surrey in the UK, there were no parents from the chemical sector - but at least some from local pharma companies such as GSK and Pfizer. But I'm pleased to say there were some industry ambassadors from the Royal Society of Chemistry doing their stuff.
It's this sort of initiative by schools that will ensure more and more students take up science degrees and eventually careers. It may be five to six years off, but some of these interested pupils - and 60-70 or so turned up in the evening - will be ready for the chemical industry to recruit.
Top chemical engineers in Singapore were recognized on March 24 at the inaugural IChemE Singapore innovation and excellence awards.
• Senoko Energy, recognised in the education and training category for its community involvement education program; and
• Huntsman Singapore also in the education and training category for its SCIC responsible care program.
Achievements within Singapore's academic chemical engineering community were also celebrated with Professor Tai-Shung Chung from the National University of Singapore winning the sustainable technology award (sponsored by GSK) for his outstanding achievements in the area of membrane separation technology.
Singapore Polytechnic's School of Chemical and Life Sciences was also recognised in the education and training category for its revamp of the Diploma in Chemical Engineering using the Conceive - Design - Implement - Operate (CDIO) framework.
"There is a vibrant chemical engineering scene here in Singapore and these awards were all about providing a forum for acknowledging outstanding achievement, recognizing the important role of the process industries, and encouraging excellence in the future", says Keith Carpenter, chair of IChemE in Singapore.
"Building on the sponsorship from GSK and support provided by Mitsui Chemicals and the Singapore EDB this year, we'll be working hard to ensure 2011's event is even bigger and better than what we've enjoyed this year," adds Carpenter.
Read more about GSK and Mitsui Chemicals.
Eastman Chemical sponsors several education programs to encourage interest in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), but its latest program is targeting young women by showing them the chemistry of cosmetics.
The Cosmetic Science Workshop is part of the Females Advancing STEM program. For example, a group of US sixth grade girls are shown what it would be like to be a cosmetic chemist. They take part in presentations and hands-on demonstrations that reveal the secrets behind some of their favourite cosmetic products.
"Careers in the STEM areas can be very rewarding, and I think all young men and women should be encouraged to explore them. The sixth grade is really not too early to start thinking about what you might want to do later in life," says Eastman's technical service associate in the Service, Food and Cosmetic Division, Stephanie Clendennen.
"In middle and high school I remember enjoying my science classes, and it was these years and the teachers I had, that influenced my decision to go to college and study science," she says.
"Working with young women in STEM is a rewarding way to communicate the enjoyment of science to students who may someday have a successful and rewarding career in science," adds Clendennen.
Read more about the programs offered by Eastman Chemical.
Degrees in petroleum engineering and chemical engineering have taken top spot in the latest survey from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).
Engineering disciplines account for eight of the 10 most highly paid degrees.
The starting salary for petroleum engineering at bachelor degree level is pegged at $86,220, which is more than one and a half times higher than the average starting salary for bachelor's degree graduates overall ($48,351). Chemical engineering salaries came second at $65,142, says the NACE.
"While a variety of factors play a role in determining salaries, new graduates with degrees in the technical fields tend to benefit from their relatively low supply. There is more competition for their skills, driving up their salary offers," says Marilyn Mackes, NACE executive director.
ExxonMobil has embarked on the 20th year of its community summer jobs program in Dallas in the US. Seventy-five non-profit agencies in the Dallas area will receive summer interns.
The interns will be paid through the ExxonMobil community summer jobs program, which for 20 years has offered undergraduate college students paid summer internships in non profit and community service sectors.
"It is more important than ever that college graduates enter the work force with real experience and a competitive edge, and the community summer jobs program gives students that opportunity," says corporate citizenship and community investments manager for ExxonMobil, Robert Lanyon.
"This program supports both student education and helps the agencies provide more services to the community," continues Lanyon.
ExxonMobil Foundation will contribute nearly $270,000 to this year's program to provide for interns' salaries and administrative expenses.
Claire Dillon, 19, from Manchester, was working with INEOS ChlorVinyls in Runcorn, UK, and looked into how the chemical major could reduce costs on several of its cooling tower systems. She suggested ways to combine cooling tower units, isolate pumping capacity no longer needed and reduce pump impeller sizes to cut power consumption.
Despite her chemistry teacher once telling her that a chemical engineering career was too tough for a woman, Dillon redesigned the system and slashed its energy use by over 25%.
During her placement, she also redesigned a critical safety fire deluge system.
INEOS ChlorVinyls has since decided to sponsor her through her degree at Leeds University.
"Giving youngsters the chance to experience engineering before University is important in that it helps them to understand, and put into context, the practical implications of the theory they will learn later," says Nigel Browning, senior process engineer at INEOS ChlorVinyls.
"British industry needs good quality students to study and practice engineering and a YINI is an ideal way of doing this," he says.
Published by AAUW - the American Association of University Women, the report considers the various challenges faced by women entering the industry, including stereotypes and gender bias. It also looks at initiatives that can help to attract women to the fields of science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM).
Download a copy of the report: Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.
The national conference takes place on 18-21 March in Philadelphia.
ICIS Chemical Business is now half way through its year-long education and recruitment campaign. Thanks to everyone who has so far offered feedback and support for this very important initiative!
The chemical sector urgently needs to attract top young talent and must pull out all the stops to lure the best graduates. Vacancies must be filled in a multitude of fields to help the sector thrive in the future, especially now after one of the toughest economic downturns in history. But what is the industry doing about it?
The campaign has received widespread support from leading market players and trade associations, including the Association of Petrochemicals Producers in Europe, the UK's Chemical Business Association, the US-based Chemical Heritage Foundation and France's Societe de Chimie Industrielle.
For any of you that may have missed any of our coverage, here are links to the articles that have featured so far in ICIS Chemical Business.
- The ICIS scavenger hunt initiative and our intentions for campaign.
- The education and recruitment campaign - why now?
- The importance of university partnerships
- Chemical industry leaders answer call to promote education and recruitment
- Recruitment in the chemical distribution industry
- Graduate recruitment schemes attract top talent
- Current initiatives in the chemical sector
- Singapore develops plans to tackle chemical industry recruitment
- Technology can help to bridge the skills gap
- Chemical companies in bid to maintain the drive to hire new talent
If you have any views/comments on any of the topics covered or would like to tell us what your company is doing to address the recruitment time bomb, then please send us an email.
There is also a special area on the ICIS connect web forum that will allow users to discuss the issues facing the industry.
Although the downturn has hit graduate recruitment, many chemical companies are still striving to win access to talent that will be vital for growth
For companies the world over, redundancies have been an unfortunate consequence of the fiscal slump. Ever at the mercy of changeable consumer markets, the chemical sector has been no exception to this.
Of those that have not had to resort to such measures, sustaining existing workforces has been the challenge and, in a bid to look after the old talent, some initiatives for attracting new talent have either been reduced in size or axed altogether.
Other companies, though, look beyond the downturn and continue to search for the best talent.
"As you know, the recession has been particularly tough for us. We've not been expanding for some time now," comments one UK-based human resources official from a European chemicals supplier. "There's been less of a focus on finding new talent and when we've had openings, we've been obliged to fill these internally where possible," he adds.
Some of his equivalents at other companies make similar observations, highlighting that when it comes to recruitment, there are some obvious regional differences. The relatively early recovery of the German economy, for example, means recruiting there has picked up more quickly than in countries such as the UK, where the recession has been more protracted. Also, sources point out that staff losses are incurred as a result of downsizing, which becomes more prevalent in hard times.
Continue reading the article...
For all you up-and-coming chemical engineers, the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) has just published its 2010 courses catalogue.
Click here to download the PDF with course listings
Both students, teachers, local dignitaries as well as members of the local press were present.
Romania was one of four countries that won a vist by the Xperimania Science Ambassadors. The others were Portugal, Slovenia and the UK.
A new report from the Royal Society has been published entitled "The scientific century: securing our future prosperity" that looks at the need for sustained long-term investment in science in the UK.
The advisory group to the report was chaired by Sir Martin Taylor and included two Nobel Laureates, two former ministers of science, and leading figures from two high-tech companies. The report draws on a year of evidence gathering, analysis and consultation.
It says that there is a need to place science and innovation at the heart of the UK's long-term strategy for economic growth, and that there is a "fierce competitive challenge" facing the UK from countries investing at a scale and speed that it may struggle to match.
Key points of the report include:
- Put science and innovation at the heart if a strategy for long-term economic growth;
- Prioritise investment in excellent people;
- Strengthen Government's use of science;
- Reinforce the UK's position as a hub for global science and innovation;
- Better align science and innovation with global challenges; and
- Revitalise science and mathematics education.
Download the report.
Dow Corning has held a science day at its manufacturing plant in Pune, India, for around 40 students of Abbasaheb Pachange school, which is based in the neighbouring village of Dhoksanghvi, India.
During the event several experiments were shown to the students who learnt how silicones help to improve lives. The half day long programme included experiments like antifoams for coating and mould-making.
"We are dedicated to improving the quality of life in communities around us. With the company completing a decade of collaboration with the Indian customers and serving the local community, we want to build even stronger ties with the communities around us, based on mutual understanding and involvement," says Dow Corning's region president for India, South Asia, Middle East and Africa, Jean-Paul Mollie.
"Our aim is to showcase the power of silicone chemistry and stimulate scientific curiosity - hence this innovative idea of conducting Science Days to encourage hands-on science education activities," continues Mollie.
For more on Dow Corning click here.