Tata Steel, a world leader in steel production, will fund two full scholarships each year for students of the University of Groningen Top Master Programme in Nanoscience. This is a highly ranked master programme, run by the Zernike Institute for Advanced
Materials (ZIAM). The scholarships mark an increased cooperation between ZIAM scientists and Tata Steel. An agreement was signed on 29 September by Jan de Jeu, University of Groningen Vice President, and the Tata Steel Global Director of R&D dr. Debashish Bhattacharjee.
‘Tata Steel is a high-tech company which strives to produce the best possible steels that offer novel functionalities . That’s why they are interested in materials science at the nanoscale level’, explains prof. Caspar van der Wal, programme director of the Top Master Nanoscience. Several ZIAM scientists already work on research projects with Tata Steel. But according to Van der Wal, the fact that they are now sponsoring an education programme is fairly unique.
The scholarships will be awarded by ZIAM, one of just two nationally recognized Top Research Schools and a world class institute in materials science. All students who are selected for the Top Master Nanoscience will be given the opportunity to apply for the scholarships. The only obligation is that the recipients will choose their first research assignment (a twelve week project in the first year) in a subject that is of mutual interest to Tata Steel and ZIAM scientists. Van der Wal: ‘But that covers roughly a third of ZIAM research, and includes many curiosity-driven projects.’
Currently, the Top Master Nanoscience selects fifteen new students each year. Around two thirds are from outside the Netherlands. ‘We will stimulate the students to consider taking on projects in the area’s that interest Tata Steel. This could provide a ‘hothouse’ for the development of more research cooperation’, says Van der Wal, who adds that Tata Steel is highly interested in the kind of curiosity driven research which ZIAM performs.
India , the country where Tata Steel was founded, is one of the preferred partner countries of the University of Groningen. Also, funding organizations increasingly ask scientists from universities and industry to team up for fostering collaborative research projects. Thus, a closer collaboration between ZIAM and Tata Steel is an obvious choice.
‘We highly value the engagement of Tata Steel in the education program Nanoscience’ says Thom Palstra, scientific director of ZIAM. ‘It shows a commitment to educate a new generation of top quality scientists and encourages us to continue our curiosity driven research to break new grounds for technology.’ Jasper Knoester, dean of the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Science, is glad with this fairly new type of public-private cooperation, aimed at training the most talented students. ‘This will help us to attract the best students for our Masters program, and it will of course also strengthen cooperation with Tata Steel in research.’
Dr Debashish Bhattacharjee, Tata Steel's Group Director of Research and Development, said: 'Our researchers and engineers work closely with customers to develop stronger and lighter steels that give them a competitive edge. In order to achieve this, we are constantly looking for new opportunities in leading-edge technologies to create differentiated products, technologies and services. Tata Steel uses nanotechnology in its new class of advanced high strength steels and also in its manufacturing technologies and sensors. This is one of the highest rated masters programmes in The Netherlands and gives some of the university's top students the opportunity to undertake leading-edge research. Our partnership with the University of Groningen will help to enhance the country's industrial competitiveness, strengthen collaboration between industry and academia and develop world-class skills.'
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