STEM AMBASSADOR ACHIEVES GOAL OF APPRENTICESHIP WITH TOP TEAM OF ASBESTOS EXPERTS BASED AT PLYMOUTH SCIENCE PARK
A graduate trainee at Kovia, one of the few UK companies specialising in the identification, on-going management and the safe removal of asbestos, is finally realising her university dream of becoming a specialist in the field.
A team of six are based at its prestigious Plymouth Science Park headquarters with a further four consultants and surveyors, working on various sites across the region.
Since its incorporation, in 2013, Kovia, meaning ‘protect’ in Cornish, has carried out more than 15,000 surveys to identify the harmful substance. The so-called ‘hidden killer’ was originally used extensively in the construction industry, due to its well documented ability to strengthen products, insulate against heat and be resistant to erosion by chemicals and water.
The firm says the uncontrolled release of microscopic asbestos fibres contained within these products is still the Number One cause of work-related deaths in the UK.
Graduate trainee Hattie Thompson joined Kovia, in January, having successfully gained her degree in Biomedical Science from Cardiff University in 2016.
“I had studied asbestos and its effects on the human body as part of my course,” explains the 25-year-old. “My research at university became a key reason why I wanted to work for an asbestos company.”
“It’s sadly still an issue in the 21st Century and, by working for Kovia, I feel I’m making a positive difference to improving people’s heath through the identification, management, and, where applicable, the safe removal of these materials.”
Hattie is also a STEM Ambassador, a role she started in September last year with the aim of helping to promote the importance of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics to school children.
Her previous work in the interactive learning section of the Science Museum made her an ideal candidate. She was able to fuel the enthusiasm of children by explaining the technology behind many of the on-site exhibits – which includes a display relating to NASA’s Apollo missions.
“It’s all about inspiring children and igniting their curiosity,” she explains. “STEM is not about telling children how something works but to encourage them to ask why something works so that they understand the science behind it.”
“It’s really important for young children to look at all career options so they can see STEM as an exciting pathway to explore. It also encourages women to enter the industry which allows for a broader mix of ideas and different ways of approaching solutions to problems.”
She points to some of the world’s greatest scientific breakthroughs having been made by women – from Rosalind Franklin’s crucial input into the discovery of DNA through to Marie Curie’s work on radioactivity.
Hattie is currently undergoing a 12-month training programme to become a qualified asbestos surveyor at Kovia.
Company Director James Lidbury says, “Ultimately we are trying to ‘raise the bar’ in terms of the levels of quality offered to customers in the region. Hattie is effectively contributing to this process as she learns more about asbestos and its uses each day – we’re looking forward to being able to offer similar opportunities in the future.”
Its portfolio of public and private sector clients allows the company to help others successfully comply with the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 – from social housing providers and local government institutions through to commercial businesses and private homeowners and landowners. The team moved into Plymouth Science Park site in 2016 where the fantastic on-site facilities have helped the company to continue to expand.
“Plymouth is a great city to be based in,” says Hattie, who has also worked as a member of a flight crew for an international airliner. “PSP always has a buzz to it as there’s so much happening on site as there are great networking opportunities with other STEM firms, which benefit all the companies here.”