Published: 25 November 2015

$1m donation invests in future chemical engineers

The University has received its largest alumni gift to help transform the Department of Chemical and Process Engineering.

Graduates Neil and Elizabeth Chapman have donated $1 million towards the £2 million refurbishment, funding a suite of sophisticated new experiments and developing our internationally-renowned Hess rig.

This facility gives students practical experience of running a real chemical company, using the equipment and technology found in industry. It is so highly regarded that each summer the Nobel prize-winning Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons sends delegates to Surrey from around the world to train as chemical weapons inspectors.

Neil, who graduated in 1984 and is President of ExxonMobil Chemical Company, and Elizabeth, a Human Health and Biology alumna, are long-term supporters of the University. Neil has spent his entire professional life in the sector and understands how important it is to produce talented graduates for the future.

He said: “Helping with this refurbishment allows us to give something back to the university where we studied and to support the education of more engineers which we believe is critical to our country’s long-term competitiveness.”

The University will be matching the gift from Neil and Elizabeth to build attractive and functional laboratories that reflect modern trends in teaching and research practice and refreshing the teaching portfolio to offer more students the opportunity to study for a chemical engineering degree.

The subject is experiencing record applicants nationally with Surrey alone doubling the number of chemical engineering undergraduates over the past couple of years.

Professor Jonathan Seville, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences, said: “We cannot thank Neil and Elizabeth enough for their extremely generous donation. This will enable us to transform our facilities, ensuring that our graduates continue to be highly sought after with the skills they need to become tomorrow’s leaders of engineering.”

The department has also benefited from generous funding from Battersea graduate Dr Dennis Creasey and engineering and construction company Fluor which allowed us to scope and develop the project.

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