My placement year at Lubrizol was extremely exhilarating, insightful and enjoyable. In my first few weeks at Lubrizol, I was accompanied by the previous student. In this period, I was trained on the necessary equipment and introduced to my projects. At the end of the handover, I felt well prepared and excited to continue independently. It was clear from the start that the work I would be completing was meaningful and valuable to the company. For one of my main projects, I was responsible for running regular experiments. This involved running, maintaining and improving a piece of tribometry equipment. With aid from my supervisor, many large-scale improvements were made to the equipment throughout the year – this was hard work but very rewarding in the end!
The role involved working across different departments with lots of people, so many interactions were experienced throughout the year. As a student, I was hesitant to voice my views at the start of placement. However, it quickly became clear that everyone was treated equally, no matter what level of education, skillset or background they had. This, in addition to many other factors, made for a fantastic working environment. As part of the placement year, every student is asked to complete a technical presentation to showcase the work they have done. It was brilliant to see how many people took time out of their busy schedules to observe and give feedback on these presentations, showing just how much student work is valued at Lubrizol.
The role introduces many new concepts that are not taught at university, however my supervisor kindly took time to help me with these. Weekly 1:1 meetings occurred between me and my supervisor, this allowed us to discuss my work, often leading to fresh ideas/perspective on problems that I may have had. Being surrounded by likeminded and knowledgeable people really helped when I was stuck with work. The management was brilliant and not intrusive in the slightest, but the support was always there when required. A good deal of freedom was given in regard to time/project management, so this really helped my personal development throughout the year.
With the role more research orientated, there was always work to be done. I can’t remember a time when I was bored or hard-pressed to find things to do. Sometimes, I did feel exhausted come the end of the week, but the rewards of personal/academic progress massively outweighed this. Coming up to deadlines, there will always be some amount of stress, but everyone is very understanding and supportive – often offering to help where possible.
Once fully trained and signed off, you are given the same responsibilities as full-time colleges. Having to run and maintain test rigs requires you to be safety conscious and vigilant. In addition, it was exciting to manage my own projects. I was surprised in the first week to be ordering expensive engine equipment – but this just gives testament to the trust Lubrizol places in its students. The placement taught me a great deal about responsibility and accountability as this is not something that can be experienced at University and will be very useful when returning to industry.
Lubrizol were very invested in providing training to its employees, including students. I attended multiple training days for soft and hard skills, with the learning outcome for these becoming very helpful throughout the placement and my current studies. In addition, it was really exciting to be hands on with engine components, which gave me an extra level of knowledge. At university, you are not often exposed to formal communication so practicing this daily throughout placement is also useful for later life. In conclusion, my placement year taught me many things about engineering, industry, business, marketing, engines, communication, project management, time keeping and myself. I would recommend this placement to anyone looking to challenge themselves and learn some lifelong skills.
I found the office atmosphere was fantastic, I shared the office with very friendly and hardworking colleges. They were always happy to help and made time for good conversation, which made for a relaxed but productive environment. These comments also extend to the rest of the department I was situated in.
My placement had a good structure from start to finish, I really felt like I knew my goals and had a plan to get there. However, as mentioned previously I was given a good ammount of freedom to explore new avenues where appropriate, this always made things interesting and really sparked my curiosity!
The company treated the students like full time staff, training them in the required skills with no corners cut! My supervisor always encouraged me to push myself and develop my skills throughout the year. I was also fortunate enough to have a mentor at Lubrizol for my MPDS, who gave amazing help and advice for my quarterly reports.
I thoroughly enjoyed my experience at Lubrizol and would love to go back after I graduate from my degree programme. However, there was no graduate scheme in place to ensure a job after I finish. This is completely understandable due to the relative number of employees - and that people tend to stay with Lubrizol for a long time!
With such a large number of placement students, the social scene was the best I could have hoped for. Everyone was amazing, and it was nice of Lubrizol to organise a familiarisation day amongst the new students before starting. This allowed us to get to know each other and sort out accommodation for the year!
The cost of living was relatively cheap in Derby (£4.5k/annum) compared to other friends working in the South, the accommodation was appropriate for 4 students. The area was ok and relatively safe. It took around 20-30 minutes to get into work, which got tedious quite quickly. I would recommend to get accommodation in the north of Derby to reduce this journey time.
The pubs in Derby were good, the clubs were lacking and quite boring. However, this was made up for by the company of the fellow students who never failed to have a good time! Nottingham is only a bus away so would recommend that for a quality night out instead.
Lubrizol had numerous activities going on with their sports and social club, this gave members a hefty discount on many activities! There were also other societies that allowed people to get involved in the local community, wildlife conservation, ect. This meant that there was always things to do outside of work!