EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Formulation Engineering

Introduction to the Centre for Formulation Engineering

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From 2014 we have been funded as the EPSRC CDT in Formulation Engineering: 2014- to date 23 projects from 15 different companies have started, with £1.3m of industry funding. 

To date we have graduated 72 EngD students, 4 PhDs and 5 MRes. We currently have 51 students registered for EngD/PhD degrees,  over 80% of which are within sponsoring companies. 

Researcher looking at test tube

Research themes

Formulation Engineering is a new approach to the study of materials production whose microstructure is a complex function of process history. It concentrates on research into the physical, chemical and biological processes that create formulated product structure and the maintenance or breakdown of that structure in use. Examples of such products include foods, pharmaceuticals and speciality products such as paints, catalysts, detergents and agrochemicals.

Company support

Twenty-three different companies have sponsored projects to date ranging from blue chip multinationals such as Unilever, Rolls Royce, Cargill, Johnson Matthey, Imerys  and Procter & Gamble to SMEs such as Green Biodiesel, Tornex and Mast Carbon; see Table 1 for a breakdown of companies involved.

The scheme is now pushing into Europe with projects based in Unilever in the Netherlands and BASF in Germany. Additionally, we are currently in discussions with many other companies to create new projects, in particular Akzo Nobel, Syngenta, Nestle, Pepsico, Kraft and Tarmac.

Table 1: EngD sponsoring companies
CompanyNo. of ProjectsCompanyNo. of Projects
Rolls-Royce 21 Sandvik 1
P&G 19 Niro Galley 1
Unilever 18 BioProducts 1
Johnson Matthey 10 Tournex 1
Imerys 8 Green Biodiesel 1
Cadbury/Mondelez/Kraft/Jacob Douwe Egberts 7 Mast Carbon 1
Dupont Teijin Films 5 Atomic Weapons Establishment 1
Rich Foods 4 Pall Life Sciences 1
Cargill 5 Industrial Tomography Systems 1
Kerry 4 Implantcast 1
Boots 3 Matoke Holdings 1
PepsiCo 3 Fibrelean 1
Premier Foods 2 Astra Zeneca 1
Bristol Myers Squibb 2 Royal College of Defence Medicine 1
CalGavin 2 Campden BRI 1
BASF 2 RockTron 1
Syngenta 2 Nestle 1
Pfizer 1 The Welding Institute 1
GSK 1 Akzo Nobel 1
Catalent 1 Tetronics 1
S&N (now Heineken) 1    

Research Engineer recruitment

Entry requirement to the scheme is extremely high with over three quarters of the Research Engineers having a Masters qualification on joining the scheme. The programme prides itself on converting scientists into Chemical Engineers; over 50 % of entrants do not hold a first degree in Chemical Engineering. Recruits have entered the programme with undergraduate degrees in Chemistry, Physics, Aeronautical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Maths.

Approximately one third of the intake is female and over 60% graduated from Universities other than Birmingham for their undergraduate degrees. Graduates have joined the scheme from Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial College, Durham, Leeds, UMIST, York, Warwick and Sheffield. Approximately 10% of the Research Engineers are overseas students from Ireland, Italy, Poland and Spain. A similar percentage have industrial experience before joining. 

Modules

As well as an industry-focused research project the Research Engineers have to complete 120 credits of taught modules. There is a choice of over 35 different modules mostly at the University, but Research Engineers can also select specialised modules at the Universities of Newcastle, Liverpool, Surrey and Delft. The modules cover Science, Engineering, Marketing, Economics, Project Management and transferable skills such as presentation and team building.

Graduate employment

The scheme has a 100% employment record. A third of the Research Engineers have been recruited by their sponsors, whilst several Research Engineers now work for companies that did not sponsor their project but support the scheme.  But more importantly over 70% are still employed in the field of Formulation Engineering.

Professional qualifications

The EngD programme has recently been recognised by the I.Chem.E. as counting towards Chartered Engineer status.  Dr Iwan Edwards was awarded this status just 14 months after completing the four year programme.

Contact us

For further information, please email chem-eng@contacts.bham.ac.uk