FiBreMoD ESRs travelling to the FullComp ITN workshop in Hannover: a great networking opportunity

Fabio Malgioglio

Martinus, Francisco, Christian, Arsen and Fabio attended the workshop organized by FullComp on the failure analysis of composite materials. A lot of science involved, but it's not only that!

Something that European training networks have in common, is that young researchers travel a lot. Probably, this is the part I like the most of my job.

On 30th and 31st of July, four of my FiBreMoD colleagues and myself joined a workshop organized by FullComp, a European research project focused on the analysis of composite materials. The workshop was a success, with 10 inspiring speakers belonging to prestigious international institutions and tens of PhD students coming from all Europe to the city of Hannover (Germany). The scope of the workshop was to provide the audience a flavour of the recent advances and techniques for modelling failure in composite materials, which is still a challenge. The application of these techniques span from the aerospace field (were composites are classically used) to the more recent automotive industry, that is closer to our everyday life, and to the wind energy, essential towards a green economy.

In addition to the lectures, there were a few things I found nice in this event. The first one was that I knew already some of the people attending and even some of the organizers. I met them in conferences or in other similar events (such as the Autumn school we organized in Paris). I have started this job few time ago, enough to realize that relatively few people work in the field, so it is easy to meet researchers and catch up several times in conferences around Europe.

Another point is that attending workshops is somehow time consuming and it distracts from the main work. Nevertheless, the benefit offered both by the networking opportunity and the inspiration deriving from the lectures (and even talking to other PhD students!) is much greater than the efforts.

The other thing that I noticed was how international we were. Not only the institutions were international (Germany, UK, Belgium,…), but even the people came from many different countries, such as Mexico, Indonesia, India, Russia (just to name some of them). How can these people, with so different culture and history, be interested in the same specific research area? This (maybe) demonstrates that what we do really matters, since the knowledge deriving from our research can improve our everyday lives everywhere (not only in Europe!).

Networking helps, in short term, to improve our research with new and inspiring ideas. By talking to a scientist, you can get more information than just reading his/her paper. You can know how hard it was to follow a certain strategy, if it worked and if made sense. Not less important, is that meeting people is fun! Even famous scientists are often very open minded and don’t mind having dinner with you at conferences and talking about (very) non-science-related topics… I believe, is the long term, networking opportunities are crucial to build a scientific community made of people, before than scientists.