What does Freemasonry mean to you…?

At Salisbury Union Lodge, 767, part of the UGLE University Scheme, we aim to support our student members in many ways.  This includes supporting them pastorally as well giving them opportunities to develop their own personal skills. W. Bro. Dr Rory MacDonald was initiated and passed whilst preparing to complete his doctorate in chemical engineering. However, it is particularly his passing that made for him a significant impact in his approach to developing an important aspect of his thesis. 

He cites this part within the second-degree charge as being a point of inspiration “…you are now expected to extend your researches into the hidden mysteries of nature and science.”  He had become stuck in modelling a particular equation for the Spiral Jet Mill, a piece of equipment that is able to reduce particle sizes of a solid to a size that can mimic smoke.  This allows both better efficacy for inhalers and the solubility of pharmaceuticals taken orally.  In both instances ultimately providing better uptake of the active ingredient.

This inspiration allowed him to take the Spiral Jet Mill from a “first principles mechanistic model” to define the particle size obtained from a Spiral Jet Mill as a function of mill geometry (scale) and processing parameters.  The pharmaceutical company, Rory completed his Engineering Doctorate with, were able to use this equation as part of their production capabilities.  They were able to accurately predict the settings required for a new multi-million pound micronisation facility that could produce HIV medicine at greatly increased scale and efficiency.  By predicting the settings required at increased scale they were able to avoid wasting this precious and costly HIV beating resource.  For what is a very niche field of chemical engineering, Rory has already been cited 21 times in four years and has also featured in two text-books as a recommended scale-up methodology for the Spiral Jet Mill. 

During our discussion he also mentions that his paternal great grandfather was a Freemason and also studied Engineering at university. In being the first, since his great grandfather, to go on to study Engineering at University, he inherited his great grandfather’s mathematics textbook.  Rory also finds the esoteric aspects and the masonic interpretation of a “higher being” in the 2nd degree helps him to strike a chord with his own spiritual interpretation of the world and science.  He particularly mentions the chequered pavement as being a focus of reflection in his ideas.  Rory sees that in deriving this equation, he has not created something of his own; simply, he believes he is uncovering the workings behind our wondrous and beautiful universe.  Rory derived the equation after the 2nd degree, and it gave him the tenacity to carry on with his work.  It also gave him the belief that if he kept exploring the mathematics behind the spiral jet mill he would be able to uncover “the hidden mysteries of nature and science”.  Rory continues with this and his own Masonic journey, he progressed within the lodge to become Worshipful Master in 2017/18 as well as being exalted into the Holy Royal Arch in 2019 of Concord Chapter 767.  

Like Rory, it is useful to reflect on our Masonic journey and see what it has done for us, is doing for us, or the opportunities we can experience.  Let’s take Rory’s journey as a light of inspiration in the darkness of these uncertain times.

MacDonald, Rory, et al. “The spiral jet mill cut size equation.” Powder Technology 299 (2016): 26-40.

Macdonald, Rory. Optimisation and modelling of the spiral jet mill. Diss. Newcastle University, 2017.