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August , 2017
Thursday

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Huddled outside the entrance of the college, one could not miss the anticipation and excitement filled smiles on the students’ faces. The occasional outburst of giggles and hurried whispers echoed in the air. A cloudy Thursday morning was nothing like the usual days in college. It was a different day. It was time for the life science students to gear up for their first field trip.

The chemistry department of St.Francis College organized a field trip on the 16th of July, 2009, for the final year chemistry students to GVK Bio sciences, a leading pharmaceutical company. The field trip was part of a three day programme, which also included a seminar on ‘21st Century Managers’.  However, the  trip was something all students looked forward to. Although it was an ‘educational trip’, the students made sure they enjoyed their friends’ company as much as they did learning a thing or two.

An hour long bus journey from Begumpet to Nacharam served as a perfect catalyst for initiation of Antakshari (notice the chemistry jargon) and apart from students, lecturers also had a gala time being a part of the whole song and dance session, which was anything but musical. The idea of having fun however took over. After an hour of howling, screaming and hooting, it was time for the educational part of the tour to begin.

The Admin Building Credit: Miss Tick

The Admin Building Credit: Miss Tick

The Nacharam branch of GVK Bio sciences is divided into two main wings. GVK Bio, which specializes in research and development and Inogent, which happens to be the manufacturing and sales unit of the company. The admin building stands tall surrounded by lush lawns and greenery and the striking facade completes the picturesque view.

GVK Bio sciences started in 2001 with a vision of becoming one of India’s biggest names in the pharma circuit and 8 years down the line, it has been successful in carving a niche for itself. “Most people perceive pharmaceutical companies to be merely associated with manufacture of drugs and their sales but that is just the tip of the ice berg”, explains  Dr. J.B Gupta, head of Biology SBU and Collaborative Research, in a seminar aimed at giving an overview about the company and the nature of work done.

A brief tour to various departments followed the seminar and the first in row was the Medicinal Chemistry department. The department is mainly concerned with designing of molecules and their synthesis. Due to safety concerns the labs were accessible only from the glass doors and windows and this was extremely disappointing for several students. “I was very disappointed. Our course includes field trips to give us a closer view of the work carried out in such labs. They should have at least given an abstract or a demo of what actually happens behind those glass doors”, rues Sonia, a student of biochemistry.

Student group and buses. Credit: Miss Tick

Student group and buses. Credit: Miss Tick

Next, the students were taken to Inogent, to understand the processes carried out in the company’s manufacturing plant and it was quite thrilling for students to see instruments that have always been a part of their text books. “I never knew distillators or tray driers looked that way until I saw them here”, exclaims Vibha.

The final destination was the biology department and note of finality brought about a lot of sighs from students, whose enthusiasm was now overpowered by exhaustion. Scientists from the biology department briefed students about animal studies, cell- based assays and the evolution of drug discovery through ages. Also, it was focused upon the properties of drugs.

The trip ended with the exchange of customary thank yous, momentos and lots of enlightened faces and it managed to leave a lasting impression on the minds of students and lecturers alike. “I feel I should rethink my decision to pursue MBA after graduation. The field trip changed my perception about opportunities in pure science. It was a great learning experience and a whole lot of fun”, says Prathiba thoughtfully.

Surely, no one’s complaining a day off from labs and lectures, even if it is given the name of ‘field trip’.

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