The Tailby Society

The Tailby Society is the alumni society for the Department of Chemical and Process Engineering (CPE). It is named after Professor Russell Tailby who was the first Head of Department between 1947 and 1981.

About the Society

The Tailby Society has been set up to connect with past, current and future students of chemical and process engineering at all stages of their development.

Aims of the Society

  • To connect our graduates with each other and the Department
  • To help our graduates develop their careers
  • To engage with our graduates so that the Department becomes a home they can always come back to.

The Society will also assist our department with attracting the best students and academics, teaching chemical engineering that is relevant for our students and preparing them for a career in industry, and building on our international reputation.

How will The Tailby Society work

The members of the Society recognise that they have all enjoyed being chemical engineers and they want to pass that on.

Our Society members will assist with all the stages of a chemical engineer’s career including:

  • Undergraduate and masters studies
  • Becoming a chartered engineer
  • Working in industry as a chartered engineer
  • Doing a PhD
  • Working as a researcher
  • Working as an academic.

Our members have identified all the activities across this timeline to which it can add value.

Contact us

If you would like to join the Tailby Society, then please send an email to

You can also keep up to date with our activities by joining our LinkedIn group.

Tailby Society committee members

  • Nick Crocker (MEng 2013) – Offshore Operations Support Engineer at Centrica Exploration and Production
  • Dan Jordan (MEng 1999) – Business Development Manager at Air Products
  • Mike Banfield (BSc 1958)
  • Richard Lau (BSc 1978) – Process Group Manager at Petrofac
  • Katie Costello (MEng 2016) – PhD Student
  • Professor Sai Gu – Head of Department
  • Nick Amott (BSc 1978) – Process Director at Fluor Ltd
  • Chris Webster – CPE Department Support Team
  • Professor Charley Wu.
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Society roles

Below is a list of all the aspects members of the society will get involved with.

The Surrey University Chemical Engineering Reunion Society dinner is traditionally organised by a current student. The last dinner was two years ago.

We will establish an annual Tailby Lecture.

We will organise open days for the department. We will ask our members what they would be interested in seeing. We would have a different discussion/topic for each day. We will start with organising one and see how that works out.

We would like our alumni to engage with potential students. They could perhaps do a 10-minute talk on applicant day. Alumni do not necessarily have to attend in person as they could make a video. Fluor have some ready made ones. Our alumni could possibly make YouTube videos.

We would like to ensure that our graduates are not just technically competent. They need to be rounded individuals with good soft skills.

We wish to mentor our undergraduates. We need to ask our undergraduates if they want mentoring. They currently have Personal Tutors but these are not aligned to industry in the same way that Society members are. We need to make industry accessible to our undergraduates. We need to help them manage that step into industry, eg. preparing them for interviews. We need to consider the best way to do this for the large number of students we currently have.

We will combine guest lecturers from industry with current undergraduate modules.
We will ask our alumni to help with lectures/seminars. 

We could show research applications for some modules to attract PhD students.
What sort of research is relevant to our students?

We wish to increase the number of students placed in industry to reflect our increasing student numbers.

We will think about how we can attract/retain good academics to educate the next generation. We need our educators to have a good grounding in understanding our industry. We need to be able to attract people back into academia after they have spent 5-10 years in industry.

We need to attract those that have retired from industry back into academia. We need to identify those that are approaching retirement that would make suitable academics. Also, when they come back to academia, we want them to bring their network of contacts with them.

Our department wishes to conduct more industry-driven research. Those working in industry can identify what we need to develop.

It is cheaper to sponsor a PhD than to employ a company to do your research.

We will talk to industry about how we can share our laboratory facilities, eg. allow companies to come in and use our Hess rig.   

We will reach out to graduates that are not based in the UK. We need to investigate possible locations for overseas alumni reception events. We need to target countries where we have a good alumni base.

We need alumni who are interested in travelling overseas to represent the University and build up our international brand. We need to ask non-UK members what links they have in their country.

The Society administrator will let the group know who is travelling where and when, so they can potentially meet up with other alumni while they are away.

We will ask our alumni for funding, which will include clearly outlining what tangible benefit their company will receive in exchange for this funding.