ADMA2 equip students with a multitude of skills to tackle challenges in business life

How can we intensify collaboration and information sharing between academia and industry? This question gave rise to the ADMA2 project, which promotes practical level training of PhD students in companies and research institutes in Europe.

The project is led by Riitta Keiski, Professor in Mass and Heat Transfer at the University of Oulu. The project has brought together key universities and companies in Europe in the raw material areas.

The companies obtain motivated and skilled doctoral students with the most updated knowhow, and the students gain experience relevant to building their career.

Riitta Keiski, Professor at the University of Oulu

The project is a follow up on a previous successful project funded by EIT RawMaterials, the Advanced Materials Doctoral Programme (ADMA-DP KAVA), initiated in 2016 and Fast-track project BLADMI (2017). The aim of these projects was to address the needs of raw materials and skilled people since the mining activities had become very important e.g. in the Nordic countries. By promoting doctoral students international networking possibilities, providing entrepreneurship and product management education (15-25 ECTs). Furthermore, by organising shorter and longer practical training periods in nationally and internationally located industry, students were equipped with a multitude of skills to tackle challenges given by business life.

Important internships for PhD students in European companies

With thorough experience in European collaboration within the EIT RawMaterials, Keiski and her colleagues in the project ADMA 2 are arranging internships for PhD students. The aim with these internships is to promote practical level training of PhD-students in companies and research institutes in Europe in the EIT RawMaterials related areas. Many target learners and key beneficiaries in the EU region are involved, e.g. SMEs, students, universities. The core activity of the project is to arrange PhD-students’ internships for 2-4 months at companies/RTOs around Europe, and in 2020 also domestic internships are allowed.

The organization of practical training periods for PhD-students at companies around Europe foster new research capacities that can be transferred into the advantage of business life. On the other hand, the business produces new demands and research topics; therefore, symbiosis-kind relationships are formed between the two cooperating parties.

These actions strengthen doctoral students’ possibilities for career development in many ways. Students can apply their research skills in practice before graduation and establish new collaborative networks. They can also gain new ideas and aspects to their doctoral theses and hopefully get good experiences that can guide their career towards the raw materials sector.

Riitta Keiski, Professor at the University of Oulu

Kimbi Yaah Velma Beri, a PhD student in photocatalysis at the University of Oulu, is one of many students who have benefited from the collaboration within the project. She completed an internship at CNR-SCITEC and HyDEP in Italy in 2019. HyDEP srl is an SME, operating in the design and development of HRSs (Hydrogen Refueling Stations) and alkaline membrane water electrolyzers (AMWEs) for hydrogen production. CNR-SCITEC is one of the institutes of the Italian National Research Council, and the research group that Kimbi Yaah Velma Beri joined is working in the development of materials for hydrogen production. Jointly they developed an easily scalable deposition process of electrocatalysts on nickel foam-based electrodes, a pivotal step to increase the size of AMWEs and HRSs, paving the way to increase HyDEP´s share in new markets.

This internship did not only broaden my knowledge on the use of electrocatalysts for power generation, but I acquired skills and knowhow on electrodes preparation and bench testing. The projects carried out by these hosts enabled me to harness the skills needed for my career and an opportunity to work with high profiled researchers and experts in the field.

Kimbi Yaah Velma Beri, PhD student at the University of Oulu

Other valuable effects of the internship are, according to Kimbi Yaah Velma Beri, the opportunity to take part in industrial projects in an international and interdisciplinary working environment. Furthermore, the opportunity to network and gain more skills, knowledge and expertise in electrolysis were valuable for her.

Iqra Sadaf Khan, also a PhD student at the University of Oulu, agrees. Khan spent a few months at the ICB, a part of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) in Spain.

The internship gave me a chance to explore a whole new working environment which is very different from my area of studies. Now I can compare and learn from different working models at two different institutes at national levels, Finland and Spain.

Iqra Sadaf Khan, PhD student at the University of Oulu

As an overall effect of the internships, a new generation of products and production processes are stimulated, new ideas, methods and concepts developed. Harmful materials are substituted or the production processes systematically improved, e.g. according to the principles of quality philosophies, such as Six sigma-Lean, Green Chemistry and Engineering. Moreover, this leads to circumstances where less waste (e.g. through over-processing, waiting, transferring, storing) is generated in industries.

Products are designed for quality, and their recyclability is already considered in the product development phase of their lifecycle. After graduation, students bring their experience and knowledge for the advantage of their new employer organization, which in the end, is expected to benefit the whole raw materials society.

Anu Sirviö, Coordinator at the University of Oulu

Partners in the ADMA2 project are University of Oulu, Aalto University and Geologian tutkimuskeskus, GTK (Geological Survey of Finland) in Finland, Agencia Estatal Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas M.P., CSIC (Spanish National Research Council) in Spain,  Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR)Hydrogen for Development of Environmental Projects (HyDEP), Kerline Srl, Politecnico di Milano and Università degli Studi di Milano – Bicocca (University of Milano- Bicocca) in Italy, TalTech University in Estonia and Technische Universiteit Delft (Delft University of Technology) in the Netherlands.