Student success celebrated at the mineral engineering society's annual awards event

Following a legacy donation to the University of Derby from The Mineral Engineering Society (MES), the Head of the Centre for Mineral Products, Mark Osbaldeston and John Austin (Senior Lecturer in Mineral Products Technology), hosted the second annual awards event to bring together students, staff, employers and alumni to celebrate the students’ hard work.

The Mineral Engineering Society Award for Outstanding Achievement celebrates the Centre for Mineral Products students’ passion, commitment and outstanding achievement. As well as recognising academic performance, the award also celebrates the students’ interest in and enthusiasm for the mineral products industry. Importantly, the event, which took place at the University’s Enterprise Centre, also enables the continuation of The Mineral Engineering Society’s legacy by providing the opportunity for its former members to meet the industry’s rising talent.

Celebrating student success

As well as insightful poster presentations from first year students, guests were treated to two interesting alumni presentations. Through their Mineral Products apprenticeships, our students have been equipped with the latest industry knowledge and training to ensure that they have all the skills and expertise needed to flourish in their future careers. This ambition is embodied by University of Derby alumni, Danielle Dawson and Josh Herridge, who delivered two engaging presentations demonstrating their interest in and knowledge of the field.

Danielle, who is now making waves as Product Development Manager at Aggregate Industries UK, delivered a compelling presentation regarding the sustainability of the concrete industry. As well as showcasing her impressive knowledge of different concrete materials, Danielle’s persuasive arguments for increased circularity in the concrete industry demonstrated her passion for eco-friendly practices and discovering innovative ways to improve the industry’s carbon footprint.

Danielle’s presentation combined the knowledge gained from her course with her experience and own research in the workplace. Danielle found that her studies have contributed to her overall growth, as her course provided her with “a vast amount of knowledge and expertise in a field which could otherwise take years to gain through experience alone."

A man and woman holding an award at the front of a room

Studying alongside the experience of an apprenticeship and employer funded degree has greatly influenced where I am today.

Danielle Dawson
Product Development Manager, Aggregate Industries UK

As well as providing her with core industry knowledge, Danielle also recognises that the qualifications gained during her course will be invaluable to her future career. “The FdSc and the Honours are both highly recognised in the industry, so it is great that I have had the opportunity through my employer to undertake these studies and eventually get to graduating."

Additionally, she believes that the support from the university and the expertise of her tutors have been an essential part of her development.

“The university employs completely relevant tutors who are experts in the field with a wealth of hands-on experience. Away from formal studies themselves, the tutors and support network have been a vital element of my career development, offering guidance with day-to-day operations, future ambitions, and an empathetic ear when things don't always go right!”

A girl standing at the front of a lecture hall presenting next to an interactive board

Danielle Dawson Case Study

Danielle Dawson started her career as an apprentice at the University of Derby and has since used the knowledge that she gained from her studies to drive innovation and change in the aggregate industry.

Read Danielle's case study here Read Danielle's case study here

Like Danielle, Josh also considered ways that the aggregate industry could become more environmentally friendly. Josh began his career as an apprentice at the University of Derby for the Centre of Mineral Products. Since then, he has applied the knowledge that he learned during his studies to become, at 26, the youngest Depot Manager in the South East at Crawley Asphalt Plant.

Josh’s research project focused on the relationship between employee engagement and recycled asphalt input. To research this, Josh undertook a rigorous overhaul of the plant’s existing employee training programme to bring transparency and communication to the forefront. In doing so, Josh was able to communicate the importance of sustainable practices to his colleagues. Josh found that this focus on increasing employee engagement led to an increase in the plant’s input of recycled asphalt. As a result of this impressive research and overall commitment to his studies, Josh took home second place in the Mineral Engineering Society awards. 

A student shaking the hands of a lecturer

From aggregate apprentice to youngest depot manager in the South-East

Josh Herridge began his career as an apprentice at the University of Derby's Centre for Mineral Products.

Read Josh's case study hereRead Josh's case study here

Andrew Howells, the Honorary Secretary and Treasurer of the Mineral Engineering Society, was pleased that the University of Derby was able to continue the Society's legacy. Andrew added:

"I hope that I and my colleagues will be able to join you all for several years to come and join in the event. Thank you to all of the staff for making the day happen and please pass on our thanks to the recipients of the prizes and particularly to the two speakers for the very well-presented papers.”

Former member of The Mineral Engineering Society, David Baillie, commented on the value that these opportunities bring.

“The event was extremely interesting and enjoyable for the former MES members, and we appreciate the invitation. It was good to keep up to date with the current studies and research and to talk to the students regarding their work, education and future plans."

Similarly, former member of The Mineral Engineering Society, Brian Everitt, was also impressed by the talent shown at the event.

"It has been a pleasure to be a part of this event and to know that the Minerals Engineering Society's legacy continues to support students on their career path within the minerals industry. The technical and poster presentations were excellent and a credit to all the students who participated. Our thanks to the University of Derby Centre for Minerals Products who must have had a difficult task in selecting the winners for the MES Outstanding Achievement Award from a cohort of obviously very capable students".

The Mineral Engineering Society outstanding achievement awards

Due to the talent and skill level of the cohort, it was a difficult decision to select just one winner of the 2023 Mineral Engineering Society’s Award for Outstanding Achievement. Senior Lecturer of the Centre for Mineral Products, John Austin, reflected on the determination of the students to excel in their studies and careers, as well as overcome the challenges of the coronavirus.

“All of our students are distance learners who are working full time within the minerals industry. They all work so hard at their day job as well as their study. The team have a difficult job of choosing, but we are particularly proud of this year’s winners, who have had Covid-19 to manage both at work, at home and at during their study.”

With the industry’s rising talent, we are all very excited to see what the future holds. Head of the Centre for Mineral Products, Mark Osbaldeston commented that:

“We are really pleased that the event was a success, and we are proud of our undergraduate students and alumni who demonstrated their hard work and research in the mineral products field. We are excited both for the future of this event and for our students’ future achievements.”

Students holding awards standing against white wall
Well done to the award winners! First Prize Winners: Alistair Burgess, Sam Crollar, Mark Eastment, Eamon Woods, Bradley Hunter, Jess Chandler, Harry Jones