A technical services perspective on Public Engagement

A technical services perspective on Public Engagement

A technical services perspective on Public Engagement

Scientific support roles are essential for enabling academics to produce world-leading research. Working in the background, a diverse team of staff help to facilitate the infrastructure that underpins the success of the Babraham Institute. Some of these sectors include: engineering, administration, human resources, purchasing, finance, security, public engagement, commercialisation, computing, health and safety, technical services, operations, nursery, cleaning, catering, porters and estate maintenance.

As described in our previous blog, a group of enthusiastic sixth-form students from Generating Genius in London joined the Technical Services team to explore the challenges we face in providing support and facility services to the Institute’s scientists.

We started the session by discussing the vast number of biological samples generated by scientists, various storage methods ranging from +4°C to -196°C and how they are monitored 24 hours a day. The students visited our liquid nitrogen facility, which is capable of storing up to 180,000 samples and were then led on a tour of the building plant room, where services such as purified water, air handling, steam and compressed air are supplied to the laboratories.

It was then time for the students to take charge as they went into a laboratory to carry out a standard health and safety inspection. Many of the scientists were looking a bit nervous as the students successfully identified risks and hazards in the workplace! 

The students experienced the Babraham Institute from a technical support perspective and learnt about different career opportunities that many students were not aware existed. It was great to see how engaged the students were and we were asked some interesting questions, such as:

How do the fume cupboards extract toxic fumes when chemicals are being used?”
Fume hoods provide personal protection from toxic or volatile chemicals by continuously delivering airflow away from the user to the work area. Air is then removed and filtered by the building's air handling units.

“How many days a year are Technical Services on-call?”
There are 3 members of the Technical Services team who are on-call 1 week in 3, 365 days a year.

“What happens when a -80 freezer breaks down?”
The temperatures of our -80 freezers are tracked by the building management system and wireless temperature monitors. If the temperature is too high, Security investigate and contact a member of the Technical Services team. We have two back-up -80 freezers running at all times.

“What are the GHS hazard pictograms?”
GHS stands for "Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals". GHS establishes a common way of communicating chemical hazard information. The purpose in using these pictograms is to visually alert those who come in contact with hazardous chemicals of the risks they may be exposed to and their need to take precautionary steps to protect themselves from harm. Visit Wikipedia for more information

You can find more information about the wide range of possible careers in science, including videos and a poster for download, on our ‘Discover a Career in Science’ web page.

Generating Genius supports talented young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to realise their potential in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths). Through their aspirational programme of science leadership, academic interventions and industry-linked opportunities for students they aim to help ‘level the playing field’, and put disadvantaged young people in the running for places at the UK’s most selective universities.