Chemistry’s Mini MOOC Attracts Industrial Interest by Dr Elizabeth Page and Professor Mathew Almond

Course participants see NMR in practice with Dr Geoff Brown in the CAF during an on-site visit

Dr Elizabeth Page and Professor Matthew Almond developed an online distance learning course in 2011-2012 with funding support from the National HE STEM programme. The distance learning course entitled ‘Fundamental Analytical Techniques for Industry’ encompasses a host of analytical chemistry techniques typically used in a variety of scientific industries – pharma, food, agrichemicals etc. The course was targeted at employees in these industries without a background in higher education and designed to give staff a more thorough understanding of the theories behind the day-to-day processes they are routinely using. The course was piloted in 2011-2012 with a small number of students and fully rolled out this year with employees from a variety of major science based companies. Employers are viewing the course as cpd opportunity for staff wishing to enhance their personal portfolios.

A successful spin-off from development of the course is establishing and strengthening links with industry. A major international pharmaceutical company with analytical and QA operations in Maidenhead has contacted the Department of Chemistry about placement and employment opportunities. The company is offering either a placement year or summer internship for undergraduates and is recruiting to two full-time positions for graduates in June. We are also discussing the possibility of them sponsoring a local school leaver to study Chemistry at the University.

Institutional exposure via the provision of online courses or MOOCs is certainly leading to opportunities which could not have been foreseen when the idea of the course was first discussed.

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