Promoting innovation and excellence in higher education

The Nobel Chemistry prize 2019 was not the only prize for battery development awarded during October. On 7-9 October in Turin, as part of the Expert Forum on Sustainable Materials for Future Mobility, EIT RawMaterials Academy presented its first Thesis Awards for the Sustainable Materials for Future Mobility Lighthouse.

Following an open call for nominations, the winners were selected from a range of MSc and PhD theses on topics relating to batteries and lightweight design. The winners were selected by a panel of experts from EIT RawMaterials and our partners, for demonstrating academic excellence and a commitment to innovation in these areas of importance to future mobility. The winners were given the opportunity to present their work to attendees of the Expert Forum on Sustainable Materials for Future Mobility in a special session, where the prize certificates were also awarded.

Four graduates were selected for the awards, worth €1,500 each. Milad Madadi, Aalto University, was the only MSc level winner, and was chosen for his master thesis on ‘Lithium ethylene glycol thin films by ALD/MLD – Deposition and properties’, while Gioele Pagot, Università degli Studi di Padova, PhD thesis on ‘Electrode and Electrolyte Materials for the Development of High Voltage Lithium-ion Batteries and Secondary Batteries Based on Alkali and Alkaline-earth Ions’ was also selected as a winner by the evaluators. In the lightweighting category, Jean-Charles Watrin, Université de Lorraine, won an award for his PhD thesis entitled ‘Characterisation and modelling of automotive ball joint behaviour in damage: Development of design assistance and optimisation tool’. Finally, taking home the additional prize for best presentation, was Guillermo Fernandez Zapico, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, for his PhD thesis on ‘Enhancement of the mechanical properties of carbon polymer nanocomposites through the simultaneous application of ultrahigh shear rates and very high pressures’.

Being able to share the outcomes of my thesis in front of European Union Commissioners, world recognised companies and highly ranked European universities was a great experience. In addition, the highly qualified audience provided me with interesting feedback about my technology and good tips on how to approach the market and commercialise it. All this advice, information and these contacts will be very helpful in the next steps.

Guillermo Fernandez Zapico, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid

Prior to the Expert Forum on Sustainable Materials for Future Mobility, the winners were each provided with an individual coaching session with an expert on science communication, helping them to refine their message and hone their presentation skills.

Based on positive participant feedback, EIT RawMaterials Academy plans to extend the Thesis Awards concept to the other Lighthouses, helping to recognise excellence among postgraduate students and forging links between the raw materials professionals of today and the next generation of experts.