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Return to campus: Kerris' story

26 Aug 2020

Technical Apprentice Kerris Boulton gave an insight into working on campus during its phased reopening

Kerris Boulton

As part of the University’s contribution to the fight against the pandemic, the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology (MIB), based in the John Garside Building, has been open throughout lockdown to provide a home for Covid-19 related research.  

When the phased reopening of campus began the Faculty of Science and Engineering started with safely expanding the capacity in the MIB. But, with that more technical support was needed. To fill this need technical apprentice, Kerris Boulton, volunteered to return to work on campus. 

“For research to happen equipment needs to function and be safe to operate. If the equipment can’t be used, then the research can’t take place. So, the first thing I did upon my return was to create a procedure for how to get equipment PAT tested and repaired so our research could continue. Since being back I have repaired centrifuges, autoclaves and even calibrated some of the oxygen depletion alarms in the building. 

“Being back on campus is great, getting back to some normality has been very beneficial for me and really helped with my wellbeing. There are definitely a lot of changes that are hard to get used to - writing down where you have been, constantly wiping every surface and sanitising your hands. Walking the long way round the building due to one way systems is sometimes hard to follow, especially when you are trying to get things done, but it’s there for a good reason and you just have to be patient and understanding that things will take longer than before. 

“Everyone is respectful of the systems in place and people are just genuinely happy to see familiar faces they haven’t seen in a few months. During my first week back myself and a few other people in the building ordered lunch and sat and ate together - although obviously we sat further apart. It reminded me that the University is still a community and I think it’s nice that even with this going on that feeling of belonging and being part of something is still there.” 

Kerris has been part of the University’s Technical Apprenticeship Programme as an Apprentice Electronics Support Technician for the last six years providing technical support to students, lecturers and research associates. Having successfully completed her Advanced Apprenticeship and HNC in Electrical and Electronic Engineering she is now working towards a Degree Apprenticeship in Electrical and Electronic Engineering.