Interview with Dr. Flavio Soldera, Argentina on the MSE 2018

The Material Science and Engineering (MSE) is one of the biggest English speaking congresses with technical exhibition in the field of materials science and engineering in Europe. Organized by the German Materials Society (DGM - Deutsche Gesellschaft für Materialkunde) in alternating cooperation with a guest country, the MSE takes place in Germany at the Darmstadt University of Technology in a two-year cycle (on even years).

The DGM press presents an interview about the MSE 2018 with Dr. Flavio Soldera, Argentinean Young Professional Scientist of the EUSMAT (European School of Materials, Saarland University) and member of the DGM young professionals committee.


DGM Press: Dr. Soldera, could you please briefly introduce yourself to our materials science and engineering community?

Dr. Soldera: I have studied mechanical engineering in Argentina and came to Germany in 1998 to do my PhD in Materials Science and Engineering at the Saarland University. Since then I am working at this university as a researcher at the chair for functional materials and also as the general manager of the European School of Materials (EUSMAT).

DGM Press: You are responsible of the Argentinean guest students and PhD candidates at the EUSMAT-European School of Materials. What kind of support do these young scientists need and how can the DGM help?

Dr. Soldera: Within EUSMAT we coordinate several international programs in Bachelor, Master and PhD-level, in which several Argentinean students participate. Moreover we have an special program for exchange of students with a university in Argentina. Through this program, which is funded by the German-Argentinean University Center, about 5 Argentinean students come each year to Germany. We support the students in the different administrative tasks and in their academic activities at the university. But it is also very important to support them towards their career development. Network activities are very helpful for that. For instance for getting internships in industry, receiving advice from more experienced professionals or have access to many potential employers.  The DGM can play a big Role in this aspect. 

DGM Press: Dr. Soldera, in which way do German students and PhD candidates take part in exchange programs?

Dr. Soldera: Nowadays, it is very important to get international experience already as a student. This is well recognized by the employers. The easiest way for a German student to take part in exchanges is participating in international programs. Typically, students go abroad for one or two semesters during the Bachelor or Master study, and they receive also a double degree. In our case we have collaborations with universities in USA, Sweden, France, and Spain. It is also possible to go abroad as an Erasmus student, but here the student needs to spend more time in organizing the mobility. PhD candidates can participate in international research projects, for instance through Marie Curie projects, having access to additional expertise and research facilities through the partners. The German-French University and the German-Argentinean University Center supports also international PhD programs.

DGM Press: How is the networking environment of young professional scientists (between each other and with their guest country?)

Dr. Soldera: International students are well connected with each other. A challenge is to establish also a network with students and researchers from the guest country. Our experience shows us, that it is very important to command and to learn in the local language of the guest country, since this helps a proper integration and opens many doors for the future. Therefore, in our courses we teach  in the local language and we also organize several activities with national students, mainly together with the Jung-DGM group in Saarbrücken.

DGM Press: You already know the MSE and you are a very active part in the design of activities for young professionals. What do you expect from the cooperation with Argentina, especially in relation to the exchange of young professional scientists from both countries?

Dr. Soldera: Argentina and Germany had historically a relative strong collaboration in research, being Germany a very attractive partner for Argentinean students and researchers. On the other side, several groups in Argentina are performing very interesting research. We hope that new collaboration activities in MSE can be initiated through the different funding instruments, like those from DFG, DAAD and BMBF at the German site, and CONICET and MINCyT at the Argentinean part. Also EU projects could be initiated. We expect also that young students can get several contacts which can be helpful for their future careers.  

DGM Press: Are you planning to involve more Argentinean young professionals in the MSE through the DGM young professionals’ committee?

Dr. Soldera: Yes, we would like to bring several Argentinean students to participate in some activities of the "Nachwuchsforum" together with our German students. We are thinking in a symposium about international cooperation, meetings among students and a student session where students can present their first research activities.

DGM Press: From your point of view, how would a successful MSE look like and which criteria should be considered by the DGM?

Dr. Soldera: The MSE would be successful if it represents a useful platform for exchange among researchers in a pleasant environment and with high quality contributions. Regarding the participation of Argentina as guest country it would be a success, if we manage to bring many interested students and researchers for actively participate in the conference, and we can demonstrate that the materials science and engineering community in Argentina can be a very attractive cooperation partner.

DGM Press: Thank you very much Dr. Soldera for the interview and have a successful MSE 2018.

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