The Center of Research Excellence in Nanotechnology (CENT) at KFUPM organized, at the beginning of this semester, its Students Mentorship Program (SMP).
The general objective of this 12 week program is to prepare undergraduate students, preferably in their orientation to sophomore years, to appreciate the concepts, tools, and activities common to research conducted at CENT. After the 11-week orientation program, students become in a much better position to contribute constructively to CENT research, including the production of nanomaterials, their characterization and application in petroleum related fields.
Dr. Zain said that meetings
were held with CENT’s scientist and engineers to brainstorm about the best
practices to train undergraduate students. The meetings resulted in a complete
plan for training sessions and the most relevant techniques in nanotechnology
that need to be included. The Team agreed to arrange training sessions
including introduction to laboratory safety and working ethics together with
many nanotechnology characterization and testing techniques. The Team put an
integrated training plan which includes handouts to be read by students before the session, presentations
which include the scientific background of the different techniques, Quizzes
and quick questions to evaluate the level of understanding the SMP students.
He mentioned that CENT selected talented students to join SMP based on their outstanding academic grade and their interest in the research field, and students were committed to 4 hours in a week with two training sessions in a day.
Mr. Saleh Al-Mansour, program coordinator, said that the targeted outcomes of the program are: Identify and demonstrate appropriate research methodologies and know when to use them, recognize terminology and concepts used in research related to nanotechnology [ex. catalysis, sensing and engineering materials, relating characterization techniques for nanomaterials to their synthesis and applications, understanding the fundamental of evaluating the catalytic activity of catalyst, understanding the principle of sintering of nanomaterials, and learning how to develop the properties of different materials using the basics of nanotechnology.
He also mentioned that students, in addition to acquisition of knowledge, learn valuable skills such as: communication skills by working collaboratively with other researchers,problem-solving skills to constructively address research, and synthesizing their research, academic, and professional interests and goals.
He added : The main areas that were focused according to CENT vision in this training session include development of nanomaterials as catalysts (Catalysis, photocatalysis) for different energy applications, to synthesize hard materials for engineering applications, and development of sensors for gas sensing applications. This program started with the development of nanomaterials (TiO2) by chemical and physical methods and end with the training of most important characterization techniques required for nanomaterials.
It is worth mentioning that CENT allows student to participate in research projects after completing the program by engaging them into the research projects groups in the center, and to contribute in publishing research papers.
CENT conducts research projects that include several fields. Jalal Al-Gurdemi , a researcher at CENT , said that one of these fields, where students can join after program completion, is manufacturing and developing Nano materials that can be used as catalysts in petrochemical factories and refineries.
He mentioned that the research group, specialized in catalysts, performs the work in two stages in which catalysts are manufactured the first stage, while they are tested via reactors , pointing that CENT recently has added two sophisticated reactors in order to improve and research work , and they are used to test the effectiveness of catalysts.