Discovering Devro: St Maurice’s High School Attend on-site Visit

Issued: Fri, 09 Oct 2015 11:08:00 BST

As one of the worlds leading manufacturers of collagen food products, Devro, situated in Moodiesburn, felt that it was about time they opened up their doors to allow 30 local school pupils from St Maurice’s High School to see why they are so successful in their field – and potentially attract a few future employees in the process.

With over 2,200 staff and situated in five countries worldwide they are understandably proud of their position within the collagen casing sector and this is reflected in the number of STEM Ambassadors they were able to provide. Each of the nine Ambassadors present was trained by Science Connects and is active in promoting their own specific area of expertise in STEM.

Technical & Operations Director, Gary Shiels, started off the day with a talk explaining what it is Devro do and what the visit would entail. The pupils would then be whisked off for a whistle stop tour around the building where they would take in a plant tour, would visit design engineering, product development and application, microbiology and chemical analysis.

Devro produce somewhere in the region of 200 different collagen based products but mainly focus on the production of collagen casings for a variety of different sausage applications. Broadly speaking, if you buy sausages within the UK there is a good chance they’ll be encased within a Devro product.

Most surprising was the level of development and design that goes on behind the scenes to produce the humble sausage skin. No maker of sausage skins uses the same design technology so all small parts that go into the production are designed on-site.

This was presented by a spirited talk-come-practical demonstration hosted by Project Engineer Sheena Ross and Development Engineer Bill Potts who showed the young pupils some products they had designed and got their audience to assemble some of the smaller working parts themselves. Holly McLoone and Kiera Logan, both S3, enjoyed this activity with Holly saying ‘I found it really interesting... especially when I got to build stuff.’

The visit was organised and facilitated with the help of the Scottish Food and Drink Federation’s Moyna Kennedy who is their Food and Drink Skills Ambassadors Network Manager. She said: “The Ambassadors from Devro did an outstanding job with inspiring the students to consider a career in our exciting industry and demonstrating the unexpected range of jobs available across the food supply chain. They were able to dispel some of the outdated myths about working in food and drink and highlight the opportunities and benefits it has to offer.”

In almost every case each of Devro’s Ambassadors was more enthusiastic than the last which seems to come down to a close sense of community and camaraderie within the organisation as Gary maintains, they are “a diverse company with a very low staff turnover.  If people join, they tend to stay.”

Question sheets were provided and as the pupils went around each section they were required to do some research in order to understand how it fitted in with what Devro does as an organisation. The three pupils with the highest score at the end – Jack Traynor, Holly McLoone and Kiera Logan – received Amazon vouchers.

John Osborne, Faculty Head of Sciences at St Maurice's High School, said: "Anything that gives the pupils an idea of the real world of work is great and the reality of what goes on outside of school is important for them to see. The pupils really enjoyed the visit and learned a lot about the food and drink production process and the variety of careers that are involved."

What was at the root of this visit was to give local pupils a better idea of potential jobs that are out there. Devro, being a large organisation, is an excellent example of somewhere right on their doorstep that can offer opportunity and possibility.

If you require help and advice on how to organise a site visit please contact Science Connects by email at STEM-Ambassadors@glasgow.ac.uk or call 0141 3306396.


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