Ghadir Ghasemi is a Laidlaw Scholar in the final year of his Chemical Engineering degree, find out how he has developed his research and leadership skills through this funded scholarship.
Laidlaw Scholarships are open to first year undergraduates, providing the opportunity to develop leadership and research skills through a range of personal development activities and two six week periods of project work.
How did you secure your scholarship?
I initially found out about this scholarship through an email from the Engineering Employability suite. I took the time to read all the information given about this and was required to submit an initial application which consisted of four different questions-its main aims were to demonstrate my suitability to the proposed research project and to the scholarship as a whole, with regards to the leadership aspect.
The application process was very straightforward. Once I had sent my initial application, I was shortlisted to take part in an interview with the two project supervisors. The interview was not very long and the supervisors wanted to find out more about my passion for the project as well as the leadership aspect of the scholarship. Within a couple of hours, I received an email from the interviewers saying that I had been selected to receive the scholarship. Prior to sending my application, I attended an informative session which gave me tips and advice on how approach the interview. I also talked to staff at the employability office who helped me to prepare my application and subsequently practise for my interview.
Describe your research project?
My research involved looking at the synthesis of a special type of polymer – a block copolymer. Typically, polymers are manufactured in a batch system, this has some disadvantages such as high labour costs. This is where my research comes in. I aimed to look at designing a system where the polymer could be manufactured continuously. Through this scholarship, I was able to present at different undergraduate conferences such as ICUR (International Conference or Undergraduate Research) and BCUR (British Conference of Undergraduate Research) which helped to enhance my research and my academic experience.
How has the scholarship developed your employability skills and academic skills?
The vast amounts of intriguing personal development workshops as well as eye-opening opportunities in the form of research and development has been critical in enabling me to initially understand my strengths and weaknesses. It has helped me to gradually work on them and at the same time develop crucial soft skills which has allowed me to build myself a platform from which I could undertake more responsibilities with greater confidence. The scholarship has been so effective in helping me to develop my team-working skills as well as improving my communication and leadership ability. I can honestly say that the scholarship programme has been incredibly effective in shaping me as an all-rounded individual capable of working successfully in a team as well as an individual and taking initiative when required.
The research was a big part and helped me to be better able to work independently and with minimal supervision. It allowed me to build effective relationships with my supervisors and other PhD students working on the project. I was able to work on my own initiative at times and this has made me more confident in my abilities. Other workshops and events such as one held in Weetwood Hall helped develop my interpersonal skills and really played a big part in allowing me to step outside my comfort zone which was a push I really needed.
What is your career goal?
My career goal is to be a lead engineer or principal engineer in a major chemical company. I really love chemical engineering and I am enthusiastic about applying what I have learnt at university to industry. Even though this scholarship involved research and my career goal isn’t research related, I will still be able to apply the skills I have developed. My career goal will require an individual who can lead effectively and bring out the best in people as well as work efficiently in a team. Throughout the scholarship programme, I have had the chance to do exactly that and these experiences will help me enormously in the future.
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