This encounter was hosted by Waters, whose logo reads “The Science of What’s Possible”. Needless, to say this generated lots of interest among our students and the question on everyone’s lips was “So, what exactly do they make possible?”.

The answer: the creation and use of mass spectrometry instruments. Still unsure what this means? Well, Michael White, Production Assembly Manager, and Apprentice Engineer, Sam Hudson, explained that their part is manufacturing high-end scientific instruments, used to detect and identify the frequency of ionised particles. This is a process which has to be completed in a contamination-free zone, which means that contamination-free suits must be worn.

The mass spectrometry instruments that they create are used for a wide range of purposes: to ensure that medicines are safe; to help to develop new medicines; to test the purity of water; to combat doping in sports; to carry out forensic analysis; to monitor air pollution; to test the purity of food, for example, ensuring that fish is not mis-sold as cod, or, even guaranteeing that your ready-meal lasagne really does contain beef. With an employee base of 6.5k and around 600 employed in Wilmslow, there are lots of employment opportunities.

In addition to the day-to-day business, Sam talked about his experience of applying for and completing an apprenticeship in engineering, currently in his fourth year working towards BTEC L3, NVQ L3 and HNC L3. The apprenticeship programme has given him a wide range of skills and has made him an asset to the organisation, as well as a highly-employable, skilled worker. Not bad for a quick decision, following a change of heart during Year 12! This really caught the imagination of our aspiring scientists and engineers of the future. He was quick to point out that there were ample roles for those who complete degrees too… but he did mention that he had managed to dodge the accumulation of student debt from weighty tuition fees. Now there’s food for thought – pure, uncontaminated food, of course.

We would like to express our thanks to Michael and Sam for taking the time to inspire our students.