After a long period of virtual encounters, it was time for the CHARMING team to meet in person again! A couple of weeks ago, in late November (22-26/11/2021), CHARMING Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) and supervisors could see each other again during the 6th Network-Wide Event (NWE) in Lyon.
Lyon is a beautiful city in the south eastern region of France. It is the 3rd largest city of France and is known as a former Roman capital, as the birthplace of cinema, as the Capital of Lights and the gastronomic capital of the world. Moreover, it is the city where Philippe (ESR11) is based at with Arkema as the host institution. So in short, the perfect place for the CHARMING team members to come together! However, due to the increase in COVID-19 cases, other CHARMING members could only join online to the meetings in a hybrid in-person/Teams way.
This NWE was a special edition – it is one of the last NWEs of the ETN-CHARMING project. For some ESRs it was even the last event where they could see each other, because some of them will be finishing their project before the next NWE. But this also means that the ESRs have progressed a lot since the beginning of this project! This can definitely be noticed in the vast amount of innovative, immersive applications and prototypes that have been developed: MAR Lab, Operate Your Own Reactor, VR LaboSafe Game, 2D Vapor-Liquid Game, VR CFD, CHARMING fume hood and more.
The event started with the ESRs presenting their research progress of the past 8 months, including the development and tests of these prototypes. It was surely fascinating to see how the interdisciplinary collaboration of the CHARMING team can establish these tools and games for the next generation of education and training in chemistry/chemical engineering. This also has led to deep discussions with the whole CHARMING consortium (ESRs, supervisors, partners) about what happens next after the CHARMING project. Will these prototypes be further developed and accessible to public? Will there be research projects or companies launched in the near-future? There are no clear answers yet, but actions are taken to decide and make plans until the end of CHARMING.
Like any European Training Network (ETN) of Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA), intense progress meetings are followed by hard-core training sessions. In this case, the training days were organised to optimally prepare the ESRs for their future career. The training topics were: critical literature review; project proposal writing; protection and valorisation of innovations in the industry; CV writing and job interviews; and project management. These training sessions were given by experienced professionals from Arkema and by inspirational experts who have long-time collaborations with other successful MSCA ETN projects. At the end, sufficient training was given in order to develop next-generation, highly trained experts who will be ready for the job market.
Unfortunately, a visit to Arkema’s research centre and chemical plant was not possible due to COVID-19 restrictions. However, more time was then invested in social activities and after-work drinks! Especially the gastronomical side of Lyon was extensively explored: les bouchons Lyonnais. The last day was dedicated to teambuilding and strengthening the friendship between CHARMING ESRs… by competition. In the morning, the ESRs competed each other in the CHARMING Karting Grand Prix at OnlyKart Lyon. It was an intense racing battle on the track, where Serkan Solmaz became the CHARMING champion! Also, Tim Gallagher was placed P2 and Michaela Arztmann P3 on the podium. The ESRs battle continued with laser tag sessions in the evening at Megazone Vaise, where Tim Gallagher was clearly the best shooter by a large margin. Maybe playing video games really does transfer to real life skills…
Stay tuned for the next ETN-CHARMING Network-Wide Event that will be around April 2022 in Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom!