An Early Stage Researcher’s perspective on the C-PlaNeT first Network Wide Event held virtually from September 7th to September 10th.
Today, C-PlaNeT concluded its first Network-wide Training Event (NTE 1), which took place online from 7th – 10th of September 2020. The open-access event brought together for the first time all the Early Stage Researchers (ESRs), their supervisors, co-supervisors and a number of individuals from across the range of C-PlaNeT’s beneficiaries and partners as well as from the general interested public.
In its design, C-PlaNeT follows three training schemes: 1) Workshops (WS) on chosen topics in the field of circular plastics, 2) Micro-teaching (mT) sessions where ESRs take each other outside their respective boxes by teaching their own subject to the other ESRs and 3) Cooperative Learning (CooL) where ESRs work together on establishing a web of interconnectivity between their different research disciplines.
The first day of the training kicked off with a welcome speech by C-Planet’s project coordinator Prof. Kim Ragaert from the University of Gent. Then, each of the partner universities had the chance to present themselves, shedding light into their main research focus. The first training day was concluded with a Tour de Table of the ESRs who briefly introduced themselves, talking about their background and research role within C-PlaNeT.
Because C-PlaNeT involves professionals not only from technical fields of science and engineering, but also non-technical fields of public policy, business and law, the chosen workshop topic for the first event was designed to provide base knowledge of plastics to all the attendees. Entitled “Life Cycle of Plastics”, the workshop began on the second day with five lectures by professors from different partner universities, covering basics of polymers, introduction to polymer processing, product development concepts, recycling logistics, along with sorting and pretreatment of collected plastic waste.
On the third day the workshop “Life Cycle of Plastics” was concluded with a final presentation on plastic recycling schemes. The workshop was followed by a company presentation by Saubermacher, a large waste disposal company in Austria. The presentation provided a close look into various waste-management techniques and capacities, along with a case study and a discussion. The afternoon session hosted the network’s first Micro Teaching (mT) session, where ESRs 2, 10, and 11 gave presentations on their respective research topics: Chemical design for recyclability, Chemical recycling of plastic waste by reactor and catalyst engineering, and Long-term mechanical recycling of blended polymers.
On the fourth and final day, the CooL activity took place with “Outreach” being the focus. It included a number of activities starting by 10-minute presentations by the remaining ESRs about their research topics and planned activities. Then all the ESRs were given the chance to have one-on-one discussions with each other to explore collaboration opportunities. Next, the networking proposals were discussed among the ESRs in small groups and the outcome was synthesized into working packages and discussed with the project promoters and supervisors.
The event was originally planned to take place in-person in Montanuniversität Leoben, Austria, but due to the ongoing Covid-19 crisis, the event had to be held online. Though it would have been nice to bring the network together physically, the online platform allowed us to open this event to a wider circle of people which invited a higher-than-expected number of attendees from the general public. This serves one of C-PlaNeT’s main goals, to dissipate knowledge and awareness of circular plastics as wide as possible. NTE1 was a great success. Activities were planned, knowledge was acquired and most of all different bodies of C-PlaNeT were brought together for the first time to envision the goal of the network over the course of the coming three years. The material from the different presentations given during the training can be found on our website under “Results”. We thank the organization team for setting up this event and all the attendees for their participation. We are looking forward to our next NTE in Friedrich-Alexander University in Erlangen, Germany in December 2020.