VIDEO: Michael Bodley: Masters candidate in chemical engineering

Posted on March 11, 2017

Are you considering graduate studies? The latest in our series of profiles of graduate students in the Department of Chemical Engineering is of Master's student Michael Bodley. He offers some insights about graduate studies that may be helpful for undergraduate engineering students considering the pursuit of an advanced degree. Learn more about graduate studies and the Department of Chemical Engineering at Queen's.

  • Video transcript:

    So, my name's Michael Bodley. I am doing my Master's degree in chemical engineering under the supervision of Dr Scott Parent.

    It's not like undergrad where after four years, you're done. It's very results driven. You have two years to sort of finish with a Master's and what does that really entail. And so it's challenging because you're doing research that no one's done before. You're sort of treading in waters that haven't really been tested before. It can be pretty challenging.

    So, my research is on polymer blending. And so what we're doing right now is taking rubber. So we're taking the impact and mechanical properties of rubber and we're blending it into something that's processable so, a plastic. So this has been done for many years but we're looking at the dynamics of this process and we're introducing new chemistry to basically control the rates and sort of the progression of the reaction.

    We're basically providing time periods where we can suppress radical activity and suppress the reactions for safety. I think one of the most exciting things about my research is the skills that I've learned. I really want to touch on that because I think it's something that's really unique. I've done everything from producing blends to characterizing by morphology, so actually looking at the blend morphology. I've looked at how they're processed. I look at rheological properties. I've looked at mechanical, soild-state properties.

    It's really appealing to me because the employers in the R & D field, I can go up there and say, 'Listen, I've done everything from bench-scale organic synthesis to large-scale production.'

    The funding varies depending on the department so ChemEng, they give you about $25,000 in funding.

    So, you live comfortably. On top of that you get other scholarships, so the OGS, the Ontario Graduate Scholarship, which is for domestic students, so I receive that. That gives you another $5,000 on top. There are other scholarships out there such as the Vanier and the CGS   the Canadian Graduate Scholarship so there are a lot of different opportunities out there

    Research, you've got to be prepared to fail. You're treading in unknown waters. I'd say 75 percent of the battle is figuring out what's going on.

    The job hunt's challenging. I'm not going to say it's easy. It takes a lot of time and there are a lot of connections you need to make but there are opportunities here at Queen's. There's the Oil and Gas Speakers Series, for instance, that has jobs, employers and contacts there.

    There are a lot of opportunities on-campus to get that outreach. Career Services provides a lot of help.

    Doing a Master's, I got my job at a process engineering company I could have got that job out of undergrad but doing the Master's wasn't a negative impact on that job prospect, so I really think Master's are great because they teach you a lot of soft skills. They introduce you to R & D but they don't shut any doors