Work placement pays off for science and technology student

6 August 2010

Christina Strawbridge

Work place success: Bachelor of Science and Technology student Christina Strawbridge.

For Christina Strawbridge a masters research collaboration with Dow AgroSciences is the icing on the cake, following a successful work placement during her undergraduate degree at the University of Waikato.

Strawbridge completed work placement at Dow AgroSciences in 2009 as part of her Bachelor of Science and Technology degree. She began with routine analyses but quickly moved on to helping research and develop items in the new herbicides laboratory. Dow AgroSciences is a global leader in agricultural herbicides, insecticides, fumigants and fungicides.

The Bachelor of Science and Technology is a four year programme where students can complete two additional management papers and two work placements. The placements are secured and supported by staff from the Faculty of Science and Engineering’s Cooperative Education Unit, unlike other universities where students find their own placements.

Strawbridge’s placement led to the research collaboration for her masters. “Completing my placement with Dow was such an enjoyable experience. The skills I learnt were invaluable and were skills that just can’t be taught or perfected in a classroom environment.”

She says she can’t talk about the details of what was researched, “But I can say I’m excited to be completing my research with a global company and hoping to create and research something novel for the environment.”

Strawbridge says the placement gave her the opportunity to develop a great rapport with the team and the wider company. She worked closely with supervisor Derek Hopkins in the research collaboration. “It’s all about getting your foot in the door and showing them what you can do,” she says.

Along with studying for a Masters of Science and Technology, Strawbridge also demonstrates in a first year laboratory session and tutors a level three Materials and Process Engineering paper.

Tristan Speak, a Senior Chemist at Dow AgroSciences Actives to Products R&D division, says the work placement programme is highly beneficial to the company and Waikato University students. Mr Speak, who also supervised Strawbridge, says the programme benefits Dow through increased productivity, fresh ideas, helps employees develop leadership skills and often leads to job opportunities for the students.

“It gives us a full understanding of and access to the university’s excellent research capabilities while the student benefits from the work experience gained in a research laboratory as well as the general exposure to a multinational company.”

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