Employees in Scotland help inspire students to pursue a career in science


In Scotland, as in the rest of the UK, the number of students taking up science, engineering and technology (SET) is falling. Universities in Scotland have set up a programme called the Young SET Ambassadors Scheme to help reverse the decline.

Macfarlan Smith, Johnson Matthey's active pharmaceutical ingredients manufacturing business, has deep roots in Edinburgh, and two employees from the company signed up as SET ambassadors.

Navraj Makena and Niall Martin visited a local school, Tynecastle High, once a week over a 14 week period to help out on a recycling project. As part of the Young SET Ambassadors Scheme, school teams were invited to develop and produce a recycling project, together with a working model of their project.
During the period, the Macfarlan Smith volunteers stimulated creativity among a group of second year students and helped them to identify and implement recycling initiatives. The project included a visit to a glass recycling facility and on their return, the Tynecastle students persuaded the school to install recycling bins.

The school has recently moved to a new building so the students did a conceptual study around converting their unused school into an eco hotel. They created a model made entirely of recycled goods and gave examples of synergies that could be achieved, such as using excess steam from a local distillery to provide heating for the building. They also decided to give all the school's organic food waste to a local city farm as compost and animal feed in return for some fresh produce.

The Young SET Ambassadors Scheme makes annual awards, and the Tynecastle team presented their report and model to a panel of judges at the Edinburgh University School of Informatics, coming in as runner-up.
In the immediate term, Macfarlan Smith's participation in the scheme has proved a success. In the longer term, the scheme may produce permanent results, as several of the students said they were now more eager to pursue a career in science.