Lucite International (LI) places great value on investing in the next generation of skilled people to join the chemical industry. At our Wilton site in the UK, two Chemistry students have spent a year gaining industrial experience as they develop future career plans.

Harriet Fowler (Durham University) and Morag Nixon (Newcastle University), spoke to us about their time at LI as they prepare to return to their studies.

Pictured: Harriet Fowler (left) and Morag Nixon (right).

What made you choose to come to LI?

HF: I wanted to work at LI due to the innovative and varied research projects the company works on, whilst also being able to gain industrial experience.

MN: After the interview it seemed like a friendly and interesting place to work. It’s also not too far from my university which helps with distance learning.

What has your typical working day involved?

HF: On a day-to-day basis, I was responsible for managing my main project and meeting deadlines. My time was split between lab work and data analysis, as well as presenting my results to other researchers and engineers. I was also involved in various other side projects which made my time varied whilst working here.

MN: I had a main project for university, which involved setting my main aims but then, day-to-day, managing my time efficiently in order to complete work to deadlines. There’s a mixture of lab work and data analysis – once the data has been reviewed there are presentations and report writing.

Along with my main project, I was also involved in side projects that varied in topic and length. Sometimes it would be carrying out a synthesis, other times it would be related to a different area of the business.

What are the top three things you’ve learned from your time at LI?

HF: I have developed many interdisciplinary skills during my time at LI which will be beneficial in the future. In particular, I have developed time management and project management skills, as well as invaluable practical lab experience in a research environment.

MN: I’ve learned more practical lab skills, especially in relation to gas chromatography and autoclave equipment. My presentation skills have improved as it has been very important to feed back any results in order to provoke discussion and a plan to move forward with projects. Full-time work in general has offered me more soft skills which I will be able to use in the future.

How has your time here helped you to achieve your goals?

HF: The experience I have gained at LI has provided me with the motivation to complete a PhD, with the aim to pursue a career in research.

MN: It has helped solidify the goal to work in research and what is required to do this role. I have gained a lot of experience which will help in the future when I apply for jobs.

What are your plans/aims for the future?

HF: I have decided to do a Centres for Doctoral Training (CDT) PhD in sustainable chemistry at the University of Nottingham as it offers good industrial links.

MN: I have another year at university and then I will most likely look to do a CDT PhD. It offers links to industry while achieving an extra qualification which is highly regarded in research.

Describe working at LI in three words…

HF: Stimulating, motivating, friendly.

MN: Innovative, motivating, varied.