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Studying with us during coronavirus in 2021

MDX-devised Lab Technician competition is back with a (rigorously controlled) bang

Second year biochemistry student Maria Pop among finalists in Manchester, as WorldSkills UK charity honours two MDX academics

Students wearing white coats in a science lab for the final of the WorldSkills UK Laboratory Technician competitionThe WorldSkills UK Lab Technician skills competition, developed by MDX in partnership with WorldSkills, has returned with the highest number of registered entries to date.

The final round took place last week at Manchester University: one of 22 venues around the country hosting finals in 63 disciplines in the annual skills excellence contest. The winners in all categories will be announced by Steph McGovern, in a special event live from her Packed Lunch programme studio this Friday afternoon at 4pm.

Close up picture of Maria Pop, a young white woman with blonde hair wearing a red T-shirt and a lanyard, and is smilingSecond year MDX Biochemistry student Maria Pop was among 10 Lab Technician finalists, and three other MDX students competed in the regional qualifiers. The lead for the event, which tests the highest standards of accuracy and professionalism in the lab, was MDX Senior Lecturer in Bioscience and Biomedical Science Dr Dirk Wildeboer - also Lab Technician international training manager for the UK squad, and expert for the next cycle of WorldSkills International competitions in this category.

MDX organised two other WorldSkills UK events, Automation and Mechatronics, the finals for which were held at the newly-opened Black Country and Marches Institute of Technology with support from industry sponsor, training provider Festo.

Dirk said he had been pleased by the “growth and interest” in the Lab Technician event, which came despite the challenges of having to run a first round online, providing very detailed instructions, and not being able to send judges around to regional qualifiers to benchmark standards. Representatives from the Royal Society of Chemistry and Science Council visited the final round venue and are keen to support the competition, helping forge more links to industry. Dirk hopes the event broadens next year both in terms of geographic reach around the UK and of the backgrounds of entrants.

WorldSkills UK logo, featuring swooping stripes in the colours of the Olympic FlagMeanwhile a new WorldSkills international competition - Industry 4.0, testing skills in factory automation – has MDX alumnus and Festo employee Marcin Regulski as Team UK training manager. And last month, two MDX academics were among 12 people awarded Certificates of Merit by WorldSkills UK in recognition of their strong commitment to the competitions and broader WorldSkills movement.

Head of Design Engineering and Mathematics Professor Mehmet Karamanoglu, who has been organising national competitions for WorldSkills UK since 2008, and Visiting Lecturer Calum Knott, a Senior Applications Engineer at Festo and WorldSkills UK international training manager for Mechatronics, received the honours.

Mehmet said the Certificate came as a complete surprise and was "a real humbling experience".

Portrait of Calum Knott, a youngish white man with a brown goatee-style beard and moustache and brown hairMDX Visiting Lecturer and Senior Applications Engineer at Festo, Calum Knott

Of Calum and Marcin’s professional journeys, he said: "It is fantastic and at the same time very rewarding to see our graduates holding such prominent positions in industry, helping drive up standards in such sought after skills essential for the economic growth of the country”.

Deputy Chief Executive Officer of WorldSkills UK Ben Blackledge said: “After a year without competitions due to the pandemic it was really encouraging to see so many people competing in the qualifying rounds. We are really excited to be taking the show on the road this year with finals hosted across the UK. I want to offer my congratulations to all those that took part and wish competitors the best of luck in their finals".

WorldSkills UK says the skills competitions have a real impact on those taking part, with 90 per cent of previous entrants saying their career progression improved as a result, while 86 per cent said the competitions boosted their personal and employability skills.

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