Imperial College London

Two Materials students to visit MIT for a semester


Benedikt Schultes and Sigurd Bjerkhaug

Two students from the Department of Materials are set to join the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for a placement over the Autumn Term.

The Department of Materials and Imperial College London have a strong connection with Massachusetts Institute of Technology, with an active exchange programme and summer placement opportunities through the IROP scheme.

The MIT exchange programme

Every year undergraduate students are selected for a semester's exchange at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The MIT exchange programme is open to MEng students in their fourth year of study. Places are limited and allocated on a competitive basis.

Two students have now arrived at MIT and have started classes for the 2023 Autumn semester. Our students will stay at MIT until mid-December.

Benedikt Schultes Benedikt Schultes will work in the Gallant Energy and Carbon Conversion Lab, with Professor Betar Gallant as his supervisor.

His research will focus on testing a new range of electrolytes for Lithium-ion batteries, which were developed by a former PhD student (Dr Gustavo Hobold). Benedikt plans to test the efficiency of these electrolytes in fuel cells. 

Benedikt comments, "I’m really looking forward to my semester at MIT because I have the opportunity to go dig deep into a materials research topic in my master's project, but also explore new topics in science and engineering that relate to materials in my three courses: Engineering Apollo, and Climate Science, and Quantum Computation."

Sigurd Bjerkhaug at MITSigurd Bjerkhaug will be joining Benedikt at MIT, developing and testing Refractory High Entropy Alloys, an alloy family promising for high-temperature aerospace applications. He plans to conduct research with the Tasan group, which will form part of his MEng project co-supervised by Dr Minh-Son Pham at Imperial College London.

Sigurd comments, "It will be exciting to experience a different culture, both regarding the university environment at MIT and Boston/USA as a whole.

I look forward to learning more about Refractory High Entropy Alloys and how to use the different lab equipment that the Tasan group has for alloy casting and characterisation. Lastly, I look forward to bringing these experiences back to Imperial when I return to the Department of Materials for Spring term."

Haldrian standing on campus at MITHadrian Iriawan participated in the MIT exchange programme in Autumn term 2020. The exchange programme was virtual due to the COVID pandemic.

His research focused on finding a greener way to make fertiliser, as current processes use a lot of energy and create a lot of pollution. He looked at using small, efficient devices that run on clean energy to make fertiliser where it's needed. Haldrian investigated how certain materials, called transition metal oxides, can help change nitrogen gas into fertiliser in a way that's more eco-friendly. 

"My experience at MIT opened my eyes to the exciting cutting-edge research at both institutions. It a truly enriching end to my undergraduate experience" Haldrian Iriawan

After the placement, Hadrian became a co-author on a published paper. He is now studying for a PhD at MIT.

Hadrian comments, "My experience at MIT opened my eyes to the exciting, cutting-edge research at both institutions.

I was especially glad that Imperial’s Department of Materials took the measures to ensure smooth continuity of research and classes between MIT and Imperial during my final year, making it a truly enriching end to my undergraduate experience."  

IROP summer placements

Disha on graduation dayThe Department of Materials also funds four IROPs to MIT for third-year MEng students. These placements are a part of a research exchange held every summer, with students visiting MIT for approximately eight weeks.

Disha Bandyopadhyay completed a IROP at MIT in Summer 2021. The exchange programme was virtual due to the COVID pandemic. Her project involved investigating material compatibilities of alloys and rocks for a thermal energy storage system using CRUSH (Crushed-Rock Ultra-large Stored Heat). The project was completed under the supervision of Professor Forsberg at the Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering.

Through this project Disha was able to connect with and visit NTPC, India to understand the context, materials and current problems surrounding implanting large scale energy storage systems in conjunction with renewable energy sources. Her project culminated in producing a literature review combining the chemical and mechanical properties of different types of rocks to establish the feasibility of CRUSH.

Disha comments "I really enjoyed this opportunity and am grateful for the Department of Materials and Professor Forsberg for facilitating this exchange.

I published my first paper and presented this research at MRS Boston through this experience. It has been an invaluable opportunity despite the challenges of a posed by the pandemic."

MIT students visit Imperial

MIT students can also explore the chance to participate in one of our research groups at Imperial College London during the summer.

Emilio Ahuactzin-GarciaEmilio Ahuactzin-Garcia visited the Department from MIT in Summer 2022. He joined the group of Dr Minh-Son Pham.

Emilio's project looked at 3D printing and whether this had the potential to accelerate manufacturing and build components that were impossible with traditional manufacturing techniques.

He worked on a high performance alloy, investigating changes to the way individual layers of metal are constructed and how this would impact the basic material properties of the component. 

He comments: "Every day, from my work in the lab, to walks across the city, my time at Imperial expanded my intellectual and cultural horizons, and helped prepare me to make a real impact in the world."

Emilio co-authored a paper with Dr Minh-Son Pham after his placement, which has now been submitted for publication. 

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Kayleigh Brewer

Kayleigh Brewer
Department of Materials


Materials, Engineering-Materials
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