To learn more about what studying and teaching in the programme are like, we talked with two students and one teacher in MATRES. Mengxue Lu from China is a current master’s student in the programme. Mikko Koskenniemi, a student in theoretical physics at the University of Helsinki with a great passion for materials research, has been participating in MATRES courses and will soon join the MATRES programme as a full-time master’s student. Pedro Camargo is Head of the MATRES programme and a professor of Inorganic Materials Chemistry at the Department of Chemistry at the University of Helsinki.
Pedro Camargo: MATRES is for anyone interested in learning and acting upon providing a better world for future generations. The programme is targeted at students with backgrounds in chemistry and physics as it merges these two fields of expertise. Within our programme, we cover different fields of materials research from both fundamental aspects and practical applications and enable students to solve current and future challenges in sustainability, health, energy, environment, electronics, food, water, safety, and others.
Mengxue Lu: Before joining the Materials Research programme, I did a bachelor’s in chemical engineering. I always knew that I wanted to dive deeper into scientific research, and the programme gives me the wonderful opportunity to do exactly that. I am currently investigating material’s properties and working on developing the functions of polymers in a Polymer and Colloids lab.
Mikko Koskenniemi: Most things we come across in our daily lives are made of materials, which is why the applications of materials science, and the research thereof, range anywhere from particle accelerators to nuclear fusion reactors, electronics, medicine, and the human body. Discoveries made in this field can have pronounced effects on technology and our understanding of matter, so I think anyone hoping to make a difference in society can find something worth their while in materials science.
Mengxue Lu: All the courses in the programme are well designed, from the introductory course on Material Research at the beginning of the programme to the Master’s thesis project at the end. I particularly liked the Optional Research Project course I took during my second semester, as I gained a lot of practical experience from it. The course also inspired me a lot regarding my Master’s thesis project.
Pedro Camargo: The interdisciplinary nature of the programme makes teaching in MATRES a rewarding and stimulating activity. Courses usually involve a combination of lectures, seminars, homework, and online/literature materials. The programme engages students in laboratory work and offers many research topics in the fields focused on in our six different study tracks.
Pedro Camargo: “The Materials Research programme produces multi-skilled scientists needed in, for example, research institutions, universities, and industries like pharmaceuticals, technology, chemicals, forestry, energy, and healthcare. The skills acquired within our programme also prepare students for PhDs in chemistry, physics, or related fields involving materials research. Skilled professionals in materials research are and will continue to be in high demand.”
Mengxue Lu: “I was lucky to have the opportunity to have a summer job as a research assistant for a 3D bioprinting project in a Polymer and Colloids lab. I am working on the same topic with my Master’s thesis. After graduating, I would like to continue with a PhD to study more topics and explore the beauty of materials further.”
Mikko Koskenniemi: “After obtaining my master’s degree, I plan to keep doing research in this field so that I may one day get my doctorate in materials science. After obtaining my PhD, I sincerely hope I can stay in this field and devote myself to doing materials research.”
Mengxue Lu: “The programme brings together many international students from all over the world. I made good friends with amazing people from different cultural backgrounds, and we always have so much fun together. All teachers and staff at the university are very supportive, kind and patient enough to answer all our questions. And I also think Finland is a great country for students, with plenty of possibilities and student discounts.”