Training the new generation 

Member News December 12, 2023
Training the new generation 
NATA team

Each year, NATA collaborates with the Western Sydney University (WSU) Hawkesbury Campus for a program that has spanned over two decades and focuses on mock assessments.  

This unique partnership has proven invaluable for students, offering exposure to NATA and practical experience in documenting a quality manual, including a test method. The program, taking place in the second half of each year, covers Microbiology, Chemistry, and Forensic Science, with Microbiology and Chemistry streams being optional for students, while it’s mandatory for Forensic Science students. 

Classes, conducted weekly throughout the semester, involve developing and documenting quality manuals aligned with ISO/IEC 17025 requirements and designing and executing a test method. The program serves as a crucial learning tool. 

Simultaneously, the subject NATS3027 Laboratory Quality Management at WSU is a final-year capstone subject directed towards laboratory accreditation. Focused on chemical, forensic, and microbiological testing, students delve into ISO/IEC 17025:2018 standards applicable to the industry. Emphasis is placed on good laboratory management, teamwork, record-keeping, calibration, and comprehensive management systems. 

The subject underlines the importance of quality manuals as working documents, essential for laboratories to produce reliable, valid, and accurate results while considering measurement uncertainty. A crucial aspect is the students’ ability to work effectively within a team, establishing a hierarchy of staff with defined roles and responsibilities. 

The collaboration between WSU and NATA provides students with hands-on experience in real working laboratories seeking accreditation. Students gain insight into maintaining accreditation, appreciating the significant effort required for documentation and adherence to standards. The subject also includes a viva voce exit interview, with many students expressing newfound appreciation for the complexities of quality management. 

For science students, Laboratory Quality Management serves as a capstone subject, integrating knowledge and skills acquired throughout their studies into a practical industry context. It not only develops essential employment-related skills but also instills a deep understanding of quality principles applicable across various careers.  

The collaboration between NATA and WSU continues to significantly impact students, preparing them for future roles in accredited laboratories and beyond.