Ng Siew Wen is currently studying Chemical Engineering at Imperial College London. Siew Wen completed her A-Levels at Kolej Tuanku Ja’afar and is graduating in 2023. This personal statement was part of her successful application to Imperial College London, University of Bath, University of Birmingham, University of Nottingham and University of Manchester for Chemical Engineering.
My ambition to study Chemical Engineering is motivated by my concern for a sustainable environment. I believe that chemistry and Chemical Engineers offer solutions to the environmental problems we are facing.
An area of chemical engineers that interests me is the invention of plastic-to-fuel technology. Chemical engineers recognise the fact that plastic is made from hydrocarbons, which is equivalent to fuel. This means that plastic is actually a cluster of energy. Through Pyrolysis, plastic polymers are broken down and gasified under anaerobic condition to produce synthetic crude oil that can be refined into other product. However, viability of incineration based technology is debatable. Decomposition of plastic products may involve emission of toxic gasses. This also limit the commercial application of plastic-to-oil technology as additional cost is needed for emission control. I believe that more research needs to be done to develop such technology. It is essential to consider the economic and social applicability of these inventions so that they can be introduced at large scale in order to make a difference to problems we are facing today. I think that studying Chemical Engineering will equip me with skills to invent ways that ameliorate environmental degradation with minimal social and economic drawbacks.
A book that inspired my motivation to study Chemical Engineering is “Plastic Purge” by Michael Sanclements, which examines how chemistry has impacted people’s lives through the invention of plastic. Although plastic was meant to make lives easier, it has ended up causing severe environmental degradation. I disagree with Sanclements claims that the use of plastic should be eliminated because of its numerous beneficial properties. I believe that the downside of plastic can be minimised through inventions, such as new recycling-ready materials like vitrimers which can be an alternative for plastic. Innovations of these engineers strengthen my commitment to study chemical engineering. I would like to be able to develop these processes, thus instilling a more sustainable lifestyle into society.
Interning at Chemsain, a company that conducts surveys on the environmental impact of engineering projects, has strengthened my intention to study Chemical Engineering. It demonstrated the vital role of chemical engineers in leading others to analyse and mitigate the environmental impact of development projects, through structured assessment and written reports. I participated in on-site testing and collection of water discharged as part of environmental impact assessments. I also updated reports with detailed proposals on how to minimise the impact of various ongoing development projects on the environment. I acknowledge that a chemical engineer must be resilient because the large scale projects they are involved in, often face unavoidable hurdles. I believe we have a huge responsibility to protect the environment, and see my role as a chemical engineer as being integral to this.
Being a scout improves my leadership skills and taught me how to work in a groups, present my ideas, accept different opinions and be responsible. These skills were further enhanced when I took part in organising charity events as an Interact club member and Environmental Services Director in Leo Club. I developed problem solving skills and improved my ability to improvise when situations changed.
My ambition to study Chemical Engineering is to tackle environmental problems. I understand that there are multiple aspects that need to be considered in the effort to mitigate these problems while Chemical Engineers play a crucial role in this. My passion for environmental protection, ability in maths and my deep interest in chemistry will make me a person who is capable of making the Earth a better place to live.
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