LAUREN Johnson, a student who spent her gap year undertaking a ‘Year in Industry’, has won a prestigious business award because of the positive impact that her efforts have had on Vascutek Ltd, the business she has been working for.
Lauren has taken the top prize in The Scottish Year in Industry ‘Contribution to the Business’ Awards which were held at the University of Strathclyde on July 3.
The judges were impressed with Lauren’s work and capabilities, commenting: “Rarely does a pre-degree student demonstrate such a range of superior traits at such a young age, from the immensely structured approach of her year at Vascutek Ltd, to the confident and professional delivery of her presentation at the University of Strathclyde.
The judges were hugely impressed with the technical depth of the project that Lauren presented, yet presented in a simple and structured way.”
Eighteen year-old Lauren left Johnstone High School in Renfrewshire last summer and was selected to take part in the highly regarded ‘The Year in Industry’ scheme, working with Vascutek Ltd, also based in Renfrewshire and a world leader in the design and manufacture of products that address the needs of vascular and cardiovascular clinicians.
Vascutek are part of the thriving life science sector in Scotland and tasked Lauren with investigating the use of formaldehyde vapour as part of their manufacturing process, using that method to replace the process currently used for fixating grafts.
Lauren explains: “I began my project by familiarising myself with the graft manufacturing processes.
“I also researched the properties of formaldehyde to understand the parameters that would affect both the vapour and liquid forms.
“I wrote 16 experimental protocols and after authorisation of these, I conducted the testing.
“Despite proving vapour fixation at an experimental level showed a considerable improvement in processing speed and therefore productivity, I also proved that commercially it was not a viable change and a capital project of over £2 million has been redefined to investigate the optimisation of liquid fixation parameters.”
Particularly important was the fact that Lauren’s project, while proving the technical benefits of the new approach, also demonstrated that the technique was not commercially viable, a good example of the importance in engineering of keeping in balance the technical and commercial aspects of a project.
Vascutek recognise the value of the work that Lauren has undertaken, Jennifer Riddell-Dillet, vice-president (manufacturing) at Vascutek, says: “Vascutek is incredibly proud of Lauren in her fantastic achievement of winning the top prize in the Year in Industry ‘Contribution to the Business’ awards.
“This is a deserved reward for Lauren’s commitment to Vascutek over the last year.
“At the finals, she was up against some very strong competition from the other students; however, she presented excellently and we are delighted with her success.
“It is a fitting reward for all her hard work, dedication and application in extending her technical knowledge within the Medical Device industry.
“Lauren is a highly valued member of the Manufacturing Engineering team and everyone at Vascutek is confident that she will go on to become a capable and talented Engineer. We hope to work with her again in the very near future.”
Lauren, who lives in Lochwinnoch, Renfrewshire is planning to go on to study Biomedical Engineering at The University of Strathclyde in September and recognises the value of her placement year to her future career, saying: “I have gained experience and developed techniques in the laboratory; learnt how to use software to enter/analyse data and worked independently to produce results, whilst working in a team and communicating effectively.
“Most importantly, I have gained an insight into an engineering environment and developed the confidence to present my results to my colleagues. I have thoroughly enjoyed my interaction with all the departments and the commercial awareness I have gained.”
Duncan McSporran, director EDT Scotland, who run’ The Year in Industry’, commented: “The Year in Industry is the flagship project and the culmination of EDT’s series of programmes which engage young people with science and engineering.
“As Lauren’s experience has shown, it provides a chance for motivated young students to seize the opportunities which will boost their careers in industry and mark them out as future industry leaders.
“At the same time companies get the chance to work with Scotland’s best, well- motivated, future staff. The Year in Industry aims at attracting and retaining the best of students in careers in Scottish industry.”
Dave Cockburn, executive director (engineering development and compliance) at Sparrows Group in Aberdeen, was guest speaker and one of the judges at the event. Dave commented: “I was extremely impressed that these young people had undertaken such high calibre projects.
“For people of this age to be working at this level is truly praiseworthy. The exceptionally high standard of the submissions made the selection process extremely difficult for the judges.”
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