From Oil Mining to Buckingham Palace: Chemical Engineering at 100

Medallists: Roger Pelham, The Vice Chancellor and Carol Kennedy with their awards

More than 100 graduates accompanied by past and present faculty members gathered at the University last month to celebrate the centenary of Chemical Engineering at Birmingham.

It was a day of reflection, ambition and inspiration for the group who looked back on the development of Chemical Engineering at Birmingham, celebrated the School’s recent Queen’s Anniversary Prize award success, and heard an inspirational speech from the School’s current head, Professor Peter Fryer about their future aspirations.

Event organizer, former head and Emeritus Professor, Joe Biddlestone (BSc Chemical Engineering, 1958) said: ‘I have really enjoyed today, it’s been great to hear about everyone’s achievements since they were last here as well as how the department has evolved to meet the industry’s needs. I have always been a proud graduate of Chemical Engineering and still am.’

The Vice-Chancellor, Professor David Eastwood opened the day with a welcome for our returning alumni and presented two of his prestigious medals to returning graduates Carol Kennedy (BSc Chemical Engineering, 1972) and Roger Pelham (BSc Chemical Engineering, 1960). The rarely awarded VC’s medals were awarded in recognition of the vital role both Carol and Roger, long time friends and supporters of Birmingham, have played in our success.

A founding member of the University’s Development Advisory Council, Carol has helped to lay the foundations of modern day philanthropy and Roger is the President of the University’s USA Foundation, providing alumni relations support to all of our alumni living in America.

On receiving her award, Carol, who was one of the University’s very first female Chemical Engineering graduates said: ‘It is great to see so many people who have enjoyed great careers because of their time here and I feel delighted to have received this award today. Chemical Engineering is a very challenging subject but it really develops you into a great all rounder.’

Fellow medal recipient, Roger, added: ‘It's really nostalgic to be back here in the same lecture theatre where I sat through so many lectures and it is an honour to receive this medal, which I will treasure.’

The day concluded with a number of alumni presenting on their post-Birmingham lives. For more information about Chemical Engineering at Birmingham, please visit: