Ron Dearing UTC students impress Reckitt leaders with scientific knowledge

Some of our sixth form engineering students have presented their outstanding science ideas to senior executives of world-leading health, hygiene and nutrition company Reckitt.

Reckitt is one of our Founding Partners, joining other leading businesses in supporting our leadership, governance, curriculum design and delivery, and more, as well as providing additional funding for industry-standard equipment and recruiting expert teachers.

Reckitt’s first ever Festival of Science took place at its Hull Campus and three teams of three Year 12 students from Ron Dearing UTC created proposals on how a Reckitt product, brand or supply process could be developed to help the company meet its commitments in creating a healthier planet.

They presented their ideas to Reckitt’s Global Research and Development (R&D) Leadership Team, who chose the winners.

The winning team, comprising of Scarlet Wedgner, 17, Imogen Connolly, 17, and Tohru Laybourne, 16, focused on how Reckitt could potentially enhance its renewable energy approach using wind power and solar panels.

They were presented with the first ever Sir James Reckitt Future Scientist Award and Ron Dearing UTC was awarded £3,000 to further support our employability activities.

The donation is funded through The Sir James Reckitt Charity’s significant financial contribution related to the Festival of Science. It will support transport for Industry Insight experiences and tours, which students attend with our Employer Partners and other leading businesses.

Dr Angela Naef, Chief R&D Officer at Reckitt, and Dr Bruce Charlesworth, Chief Medical Officer and Campus Lead at Reckitt, with the winning Ron Dearing UTC team, from left, Tohru Laybourne, Imogen Connolly and Scarlet Wedgner.


The other two teams focused on how Reckitt could improve its packaging and materials, providing examples of how this could be achieved, and how the business could reduce waste.

They also suggested deposit stations where used containers could be exchanged in return for money and refill shops where products can be topped up after they have been used.

Glenn Jensen, our Senior Assistant Principal for Employer Engagement, said: “It’s fantastic to see our students playing their part in such an important global event, thanks to one of our Founding Partners.

“It was an excellent experience for them and one which will support their enthusiasm for science, engineering and innovation as they consider their next steps.

“Sustainability is such a key part of our curriculum. It’s brilliant to see our students using their knowledge and being able to apply it on the road to net zero.”

As one of our Founding Partners, Reckitt has already employed 10 of our former students in degree apprenticeship roles over the past four years and they continue to thrive on their chosen career paths.

Dr Bruce Charlesworth, Chief Medical Officer and Hull Campus Lead at Reckitt, said: “The students who participated in our Festival of Science wowed our Global R&D Leadership Team with their sustainability knowledge and their ideas for our products and packaging, as well as how to make the energy we use greener.

Ron Dearing UTC students Olesia Khypunova and Isaac Oshin present their proposal to the Reckitt Global Research and Development (R&D) Leadership Team.


“They showed real depth of knowledge and I’m proud of them all. We had a real struggle in choosing one winning team.

“Every time I meet Ron Dearing UTC students I’m blown away. I love their passion and energy and they bring a very valuable young and real perspective.

“I’m really excited by their insights and they’ve done an amazing job of pulling their ideas together while they’re busy with school and exams.

“I don’t think there are many children of that age who can say they presented to senior executives from one of the world’s biggest companies.”

Dr Charlesworth said Reckitt is pleased to open its doors to inspire young people.

He said: “It’s a bit like going into Willy Wonka’s Chocolate factory and seeing what we really do, so I hope they’ve taken a lot away from it.

“The gap between academia, industry and education is far too wide and it shouldn’t be, because education is about preparing people for the workplace and for life.

The Ron Dearing UTC students who took part in the Reckitt Festival of Science, pictured with Dr Angela Naef, Chief R&D Officer at Reckitt, and Dr Bruce Charlesworth, Chief Medical Officer and Campus Lead at Reckitt.


“It’s beneficial to us to give them that exposure but beneficial to them to be able to see and experience it, potentially inspiring them work somewhere like Reckitt.”

Student Scarlet, who was part of the winning team, said: “It was a big team effort and a really fun experience. It has definitely added to our employability skills.”

In partnership with Hull and East Yorkshire Children’s University, the Festival of Science also saw students from Mersey Primary Academy in east Hull take part in hands-on science workshops and meet Reckitt scientists. They were also challenged to develop a new product or change an element of an existing Reckitt product.

The school was also given £3,000 from The Sir James Reckitt Charity to create a science club, thanks to the donation from The Sir James Reckitt Charity, related to the Festival of Science.

The event was part of Reckitt’s inaugural Science Inside Symposium, a two-day broader programme of activities which recognised scientific talent across the company and showcased its brands and products through posters and presentations. The symposium brought Reckitt’s work to life and is set to become an annual event.