Industry visits offer Pharmaceutical Engineering students invaluable learning experience

Trips to Nestlé, AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline have been organised, providing students with industry insight.

A group of students in PPE posing together

Students on the Pharmaceutical Engineering MSc course have had a taste of the pharmaceutical industry as part of three site visits to Nestlé, AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline.

The trips, which have taken place over the past several months, gave the students a chance to look behind the scenes of these global food and pharmaceutical brands, providing insight into the workings of the companies.

They formed part of the Pharmaceutical Engineering MSc, with regular industry speakers organised as part of the course.

A large group of students posing outside a building
The students on the AstraZeneca trip

Visiting the AstraZeneca Pharmaceutical Company in Macclesfield, the students were given a comprehensive introduction to AstraZeneca,  a British-Swedish multinational pharmaceutical and biotechnology company, followed by a three-hour tour of its production pilot plant, active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) production line and reactors. An API is the main ingredient in a medication that provides the desired effect.

In a report written after the visits, the students said: “We were impressed by the level of detail provided by each unit and that was an invaluable learning experience for us.

“We believe that this experience will undoubtedly help us in our future careers in the pharmaceutical industry."

Students posing in front of a GSK banner in a building
The trip to GSK saw the students given tours of the company's facilities

The students were also given a tour on their visit to GlaxoSmithKline, which was arranged by an ex-Sheffield PhD student who is currently the Product & Process Engineering Team Leader at the company. The other two trips were also arranged by ex-Sheffield PhD students.

The visit began with an introduction by some of the employees at the company, followed by a two hour visit to the production pilot plant and new facilities in the company. 

The University of Sheffield benefits from having its own pilot plant, the Diamond Pilot Plant, which is the first of its scale in any UK university.

At GSK, the students were given a detailed explanation of the material flow from API to finished products. During the visit, the relevant employees of each unit gave them a complete view of their respective units. 

The students also visited Nestlé's production facility and research and development centre. 

Students and staff posing outside the Nestle sign outside of the company's building
The third trip was to Nestlé, best known for is chocolate brands

Also given a tour of the facility, the students heard an introduction to the history of chocolate, Nestlé's worldwide operations and the main countries where cocoa is planted and harvested, followed by a visit to the KitKat production pilot plant. 

At the R&D site, they observed a demonstration of the chocolate preparation process. The students were taken through the various stages of production, from raw materials to finished products, including the quality control measures in place to ensure the products meet the highest standards.

“Overall, this program provided us with a valuable opportunity to expand our professional network. We gained insightful knowledge, which made it an unforgettable and treasured experience," the students wrote in their report.

Four students laughing while sat at a bench, outside the Students' Union

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