Designing and synthesising fuel additive chemistries
I thoroughly enjoyed my placement. I gained really good practical experience across a wide range of equipment including much larger scale kit than I had ever used at university. I also learned a lot about working in industry. My department and business segment, and the wider student cohort were all really friendly.
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I was always made aware of the impact my work had on the bigger picture of the group, and everyone was more than happy to explain in further detail anything I didn't understand. I always felt the work I was given was necessary and important to my business segment, it never felt like they were giving the student the easier/dead-end work. I became really friendly with my colleagues in the lab which made the year particularly enjoyable.
My supervisor was always there to help me when I needed it, but he also let me tasked responsibility for the progression of work and how I managed my workload to fit experiments and report/presentation writing around meetings etc. Where I was able to, my input and suggestions were always welcome and acted on. He was very knowledgeable and happy to pass on his experience in organic synthesis and the fuels additives industry.
Most days I spent predominately in the lab. The workload was always manageable, and included synthetic work as well as writing up my experiments and preparing presentations to update the component science department or business group of our progress and results. There was a good balance of lab and office work.
I was responsible for carrying out my experiments and organising my workload to fit around office work and meetings. I also purchased chemicals and equipment (below a certain threshold where they had to be approved by someone more senior) and writing up COSHH reports prior to lab work. I enjoyed the amount of responsibility I had in helping impact the course of the projects I was part of.
I developed my synthetic skills massively during my time at Lubrizol. I was still leaning how to use new pieces of kit right up to the end of my time as the projects I was working on developed and so the equipment we were using changed. I also gained practice and experience presenting to a wide variety of technical and non-technical audiences about my work through presentations or poster format and general discussions. I also learned how to structure my day and experiments to meet deadlines and still get to any meetings I was supposed to attend!
Very friendly. I was working in an office with other students so we had quite a lot in common. We also interacted with the full-timers in the lab and in their office during tea break and department meetings. Everyone is really approachable and always happy to help if you need it.
Application process was clear and quick. The visit day was a great opportunity to visit the site and learn more about the position and the company before applying. It was really useful to talk to the current students about their experience and ask them and other members of the department lots of questions.
There is a two week handover period with the outgoing students which is intense but really useful to get a chance to shadow someone who's been in the role for a year.
I attended a session learning how to create an effective academic poster, and give a short presentation on it. I also improved my presentation and scientific report writing skills throughout the year, and of course gained a great deal of synthetic lab experience using a wide variety of equipment and chemistries. We also received safety training and all of the company-wide training modules.
There are quite a very staff on site who were previously placement year students, but employment is obviously based on there being a vacancy in the department you are interested in. Lubrizol also sponsors PHD projects at lots of universities which is an alternative way to stay in touch.
If the opportunity arose when I have completed all of my studies I would love to come back and work into the department
There were just under 30 students in my 'year group' and most of us lived together in smaller groups so socialising was pretty easy. We often met up at the weekends and evenings. We ate lunch with the other students and/or members of our departments depending on who was available for lunch at the same time on any given day.
Living costs are fairly cheap. The student accommodation available to rent was pretty nice and as much as half the price of university halls or rentable housing further south! The cost of socialising in Derby and Nottingham is about the same of any other university city, although for Notts you've also got the train fare.
Pretty good in Derby and Nottingham as both are student cities. Nottingham is a train ride away, and depending on how far away from Derby station might also require a taxi home (or staying on a friends sofa) as its quite a hike if you live on the opposite side of the city.
The Sports and Social club was really cheap to join and organised subsidised trips for activities such as go-karting, laser quest, go ape, coach trips to cities and events for families too. There are two student positions on the committee so you can also take the opportunity to organise trips of your choosing that suit.