Student analyses air quality data for resident company NAQTS

A £150,000 proton transfer reaction mass spectrometer is being strapped into the cabin of a Dornier-228 small aircraft,

The Organisation

NAQTS is a social business based within the Lancaster Environment Centre that seeks to improve awareness of indoor air quality through widespread public and commercial monitoring. Problems of indoor air quality are recognised as important risk factors for human health. Indoor air is also important because people spend a substantial proportion of their time in buildings. NAQTS specialises in equipment development to provide high-quality, low cost technology for monitoring activities that will facilitate improved awareness, productivity, and the knowledge of the health impacts of poor air quality.

www.naqts.com 

The Challenge

NAQTS was looking for support to measure and analyse data, as well for equipment maintenance, and approached Lancaster University for assistance. 

Skills Sought

  • Studying for a degree in environmental science, or a similar discipline
  • Data analysis using statistical programme software (SPSS, R, MATLAB)
  • Basic engineering, and using mechanical tools

The Solution

Scott Lowther, a 2nd year BSc Environmental Science student, was recruited through the Science and Technology Internship Programme for an eight week internship with NAQTS, to take appropriate measurements and analyse these results to include in a ‘white paper’ report. This included meeting with the company to discuss the requirements and scope of the project, obtaining air quality measurement data and analyzing data to produce the report.

Cost

The eight week placement was part funded by NAQTS at £1,200 and part financed by the University.

Impact

Scott helped NAQTS to calibrate equipment, measure and analyse data, as well as maintain equipment. 

Benefits 

  • Specialist time given to report writing, enabling it to be produced in more depth, as well as faster
  • Gave NAQTS a permanent representative in the North West, based from the LEC
  • Saved the company time

Company Feedback

“Recruiting Scott last summer through the Science and Technology Internship programme was a great experience for the team at NAQTS. Scott quickly became an important member of the team: in his first week, he worked on the calibration of the NAQTS integrated air quality monitors. Throughout Scott’s internship he proved an asset, and often went beyond the initial job specification, for example, in helping us to develop our online presence through some fantastic promotional photos.

"The depth of young talent in the Lancaster University community is something that makes colocation in the LEC attractive to NAQTS: Scott’s time with us last summer serves as testament to that. NAQTS looks forward to welcoming more interns in the future who have a passion for the environment, innovation, and technology.” - Douglas Booker, Managing Director of National Air Quality Testing Services Limited.

Student Feedback

"The opportunity to work with NAQTS allowed me to obtain valuable hands on experience working within a business and better allowed me to understand the air pollution industry. I learned about the internal workings of NAQTS's regulation grade air pollution monitoring equipment and was able to build, repair and troubleshoot it by the end of the internship. My internship also included time out of the office to work with a global sustainability consultancy (Ricardo AEA), where I assisted with the calibration of multiple integrated air quality monitors.

"Being keen on computing the company asked me to help improve the monitor’s graphical user interface; whilst doing this I developed the ability to read and write both html and css languages sufficiently. During the process I generated reports assessing air quality collected by businesses working alongside NAQTS at the time. This required using Matlab for statistics and visualisation and detailed review of associated literature. Overall my work with NAQTS was invaluable to developing my technical skills and understanding of a real business environment.” Scott Lowther, 2nd year BSc Environmental Science NAQTS Intern.

LEC Feedback

"NAQTS is an ideal collaborative partner for LEC. We are delighted to provide a support environment for them, sharing our resources and expertise to help NAQTS shape and develop its portfolio." Dr Ruth Alcock, Head of Enterprise & Business Partnerships at LEC.

Future Plans

­­As well as being based within the Lancaster Environment Centre at Lancaster University, NAQTS will continue to work with the University in future projects including taking on a Centre for Global Eco-innovation PHD student, and host more interns.