Goalpost Colleges

Basic sciences beyond boundaries

The Max Planck Society, Germany, has more than 80 international research institutions engaged in fundamental research, spanning the spectrum of natural, life and social sciences and technology. The founder, Adolph von Harnack’s principle of a people-centric approach translates to giving researchers freedom in defining their own scientific questions, supplementing it with excellent working conditions, and nurturing a creativity driven pursuit of knowledge.

The Max-Planck-Institut für Eisenforschung GmbH in Düsseldorf (Max Planck Institute for Iron Research) addresses themes of sustainable energy, safe mobility and resilient infrastructure through research in the reliable development of customised material. This translates to dedicated departments, focussed on developing advanced material for energy conversion and high-strength applications, among many others, using state-of-the-art advanced material characterisation techniques combined with powerful computational tools. An in-house mechanical workshop and electronics facility provides for quick realisation of tailored instrumental devices and associated virtual interface software.

I am part of the research group that is focussed on tackling the basic questions of corrosion science, omnipresent in today’s world of materials, through the development of new approaches. The technique central to the group is the Scanning Kelvin Probe (SKP) that allows investigation of diverse topics such as intelligent coatings for corrosion protection and hydrogen induced failure in metals. As part of my Ph.D thesis, we have developed a novel experimental method for characterising the resistance of coatings for corrosion-protection. The selling point for me has been learning to work independently which fosters quick growth in one’s scientific career.

The benefits of being a student in Germany are well-known: nominal tuition fee, mainly a semester contribution fee that includes free public transport throughout the state. Learning the German language might prove to be a challenge which, like any other skill, takes practice.

The Germans I have met till now have always been supportive and encourage conversation. It has been a revelation to me – the close relationship I can form with colleagues just by trying to speak to them in German. I strongly believe that my living experience is enriched with each passing day that I attempt to improve my German language skills.

The entry point for international students is the doctoral programme offered by the International Max Planck Research Schools (IMPRS). They provide a structured graduate platform with block lectures, seminars and soft-skill training courses that augur well for a holistic learning experience. Currently, there are 60 such programmes covering the disciplines of science, engineering and humanities, each of which has an individual online application process announced twice a year.

The writer is a final-year doctorate candidate at the Max Planck Research Institute for Iron Research, Germany.

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Printable version | Mar 4, 2021 4:01:23 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/education/colleges/Basic-sciences-beyond-boundaries/article16938191.ece

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