COVID-19: Technicians still making it happen

Aston University

During the COVID-19 pandemic, our technical staff here at Aston University and at other universities and research institutes across the country have been absolute heroes behind the scenes.

In response to the pandemic, Aston University, like many others, made the decision to move all face to face teaching online. Our IT technical colleagues worked extraordinarily hard to ensure that the transition went smoothly. Their contribution was essential as without their expertise we wouldn’t be able to deliver our teaching programmes online and support our students remotely. 

Technical colleagues across Aston’s laboratories have been working extremely hard too. They enabled the safe and successful shutdown of both teaching and research labs and utilised their technical expertise and ‘make it happen’ attitude to manufacture hand sanitiser and collect and deliver PPE and medical supplies to the NHS. These latter activities, in direct response to the combined effort to tackle COVID-19, have really boosted the morale of the academic and technical community during these challenging times.

Manufacturing Hand Sanitiser

The hand sanitiser manufacturing process involved our technical colleagues in Pharmacy manufacturing sanitiser using the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recipe and distributing the sanitiser across campus and beyond.

Donating PPE

My personal highlight, and one which meant a lot to me was the donation of PPE to our NHS friends and colleagues. As our laboratories are closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, we were able to collate our supplies that we felt would be useful to the NHS. Technical colleagues collected PPE from across the University, along with medical supplies including saline IV bags, paracetamol and Calpol. These were all personally delivered to the Birmingham Women’s and Children’s Hospitals. This was of personal significance to me as I was a patient of the Children’s Hospital as a child and the Women’s Hospital have provided so much support to me and my wife, so to give something back meant a lot.

Still Making it Happen

During the shutdown, our technical colleagues will still be working hard. We’re keeping essential operations at Aston University going. Colleagues will be performing vital checks, such as ensuring that our cell banks and NMR equipment are filled with liquid nitrogen, and technical colleagues from IT, Estates, Engineering and Science will be involved in keeping our critical activities underway, albeit remotely in some cases. 

In addition, technical colleagues have volunteered to support the students who are living on our campus on their own. This is essential support and I am so proud of the way we have pulled together as a community.

Technicians really are the heroes of our sector. Their ‘can do’ approach and perseverance has made what seemed impossible possible. The movement of face to face teaching to online, the manufacture of hand sanitisers, the donation of PPE and medical supplies to the NHS – all this shows one thing….technicians STILL make it happen, no matter what!

Jiteen Ahmed
Aston University