As a part of Laboratory Science subject, students from the Applied Science level 5 course had an opportunity to visit a working laboratory in Glen Keith Technical Centre.
Sarah Baxter from DYW Moray helped us to bring the realities of employment into this course. Thanks to her involvement we were able to organise a visit to Glen Keith Technical Centre where Alan Rettie gave us a tour around the laboratory.
Alan explains different methods used to investigate how much alcohol is in your whisky!
Our students were able to see in practise how important the different skills that they had learnt during this unit and how accurate they had to be in the techniques in a real work environment.
We were able to see Gas Chromatography, Mass Spectrometry equipment (GC-MS) which is used to allow substances in a sample to be separated and then identified (as seen in crime scene investigation programs).
Alan is using GC-MS to check what elements and different alcohols are present in whisky.
GC-MS is used to test the whisky for different types of alcohol and we were happy to see that it was mostly ethanol – drinking alcohol.
Although we saw a lot of automatic equipment we did learn that basic skills like precise measurements, the preparation of solutions are essential in all laboratories e.g. making standard solutions and practising the use of glass pipettes are also very significant skills when looking for employment in the lab.
Our students were pleased to learn that titration is an automated process in the lab, but Alan has confirmed that it is very beneficial for students to be able to perform traditional titration for the basic understanding of this technique so we will keep doing titration without high tech equipment.
Analysing how much acid is present in whisky.
We asked many questions but students especially wanted to know what happens to all the whisky left after testing!
At the end of the visit Alan has given some tips for students to help them with job interviews. We have learned that although academic qualification is important, practical experience in the lab and willingness to learn are essential.
We are very grateful for this opportunity to visit working laboratory and being able to observe the lab technician analysing samples of whisky. Alan has managed to explain in a simple language how a very complicated equipment is working. We appreciate it very much that although there are only two people working in the lab Alan was willing to offer his time and professional experience.