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Hazelwood placement students take the top spots in Lubrizol’s international online showcase

Hazelwood placement students take the top spots in Lubrizol’s international online showcase

Three students undertaking a year-long placement at a Derbyshire chemical company have taken the top three spots in an international in-house competition held to showcase the research they have been carrying out as part of their work.


Brittany Richards, Sophie Holland and Hattie Barnes made it a clean sweep for Lubrizol’s site in Hazelwood after their presentations were voted the best overall in the company’s recent student showcase event.

The trio are one of 34 current undergraduates and apprentices from British universities who are spending a year of their degrees working in departments across Lubrizol’s sites in Hazelwood, Huddersfield and Blackely in Manchester.

All three are studying chemistry degrees at York, Durham and Bristol universities respectively and have been helping Lubrizol with its research into the next generation of lubricants and additives for the automotive industry.

The student showcase takes place every year but was held online this time round because of the coronavirus pandemic, with 34 students working in departments ranging from engineering, marketing, accounting and design also going up against each other, along with two students working at Lubrizol’s site in Barcelona, Spain.

Each participant had to prepare a poster explaining the work they have been carrying out during their time with Lubrizol and then make a five-minute presentation to other students and Lubrizol employees to tell them all about it.

Each student was judged on the quality of their presentation, with Brittany taking first place and Hattie and Sophie coming in as runners-up.

Brittany, who is in the fourth year of her pure chemistry degree at the University of York, said:

“Condensing all of my work over the past year into a five-minute presentation wasn’t easy, nor was deciding what was the most important and relevant to everyone.

“I have been using a lot of Lubrizol’s existing chemistry but looking at the ways in which it reacts to different surfaces and explaining it all was a challenge, but I was excited to do it because I do enjoy making presentations and data analysis.

“I was quite nervous beforehand because I was presenting to 100 people, but I enjoyed it and was very shocked and extremely happy with the result.”

Hattie, who is in the third year of her MSci in chemistry with industrial experience at the University of Bristol, gave a presentation on the work she has been doing as part of Lubrizol’s research into developing cleaner chemicals.

She said:

“I didn’t expect to come runner-up at all, there were loads of other really good presentations by students who really knew their subjects and I was blown away when I was told the result.

“I was nervous, but I had enjoyed the challenge of talking about what I have been doing to an audience which included employees who don’t have a scientific background. I also had to demonstrates an understanding of the commercial side and how the work fitted into Lubrizol’s corporate mission, so there was a lot to think about.”

Lubrizol has only allowed essential workers and laboratory staff to come into work during the pandemic, with everyone else working from home, and Alison Fisher, operations manager at Hazelwood, said this made the students’ task more difficult than in previous years.

She added:

“It hasn’t been easy for our students but we’re extremely proud of the way in which every one of them has got on with their work and made their own contribution to Lubrizol during the past year.

“The showcase made their willingness to learn and contribute to the company very clear and if they found the prospect of presenting online to their peers, colleagues and senior members of Lubrizol incredibly daunting then they didn’t show it.

“All three of Sophie, Brittany and Hattie deserve special praise for the quality of their presentations and the depth of their knowledge, which was very apparent in both their presentations and the questions and answer sessions afterwards.”

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