I completed my degree at Loughborough in 1975, which was probably the heyday for chemical engineering recruitment. We were probably the most in demand subject for employment. I remember the looks that many of us got picking up our telegrams on the board from all the big employers, asking us to attend interviews.
These interviews were major aﬀairs, with typically 20 to 50 of us interviewed in batches by the big oil companies and chemical companies. We were entertained lavishly, as they were also trying to impress us as well. My vivid recollection of this process was when being interviewed by Shell at Stanlow, we were all taken to a large hotel for dinner. There must have been at least 50 of us present.
This itself was not unusual, however I can still remember to this day the taste of fresh pineapple. I had never even seen one before, as at that time pineapples came in tins packed in syrup. This event probably explains why pineapples are one of my favourite fruits, even to this day.
I started working after gaining my degree with ICI at Wilton on Teesside, one of the major petrochemical plant complexes engaged in the manufacture of nylon.
My role was to support the plant managers and to progress specific projects. At that time many of the plant managers and senior staﬀ were chemists rather than chemical engineers and therefore required chemical engineering support. The nylon complex was a huge area, comprising of many individual processes. Most of my time was spent either on the ammonia recovery system or the adiponitrile purification plant.
I remember attending all the safety workshops pioneered by Trevor Kletz, whose name is now synonymous with much of the hazard and safety processes used by chemical engineers throughout the world.