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13 June 2024

The Department of Materials Science & Metallurgy has been running a European vacation placement scheme for its undergraduate students since the early 1990s. It was initially built upon existing collaborations through individual academics, with institutions including TU Wien, University of Goettingen, Max Planck Institute in Stuttgart, EPFL and ETHZ. The Armourers and Brasiers’ Company, in association with Alcan, supported these endeavours, donating a sum each year to fund bursaries towards the travel and subsistence costs for students selected to be part of the scheme. Host institutions also provided support, such as free accommodation, in whatever way they could. Over the next decade, new collaborations were forged, bringing on board institutions such as EMPA, PSI, ESI, TUHH, and Rolls-Royce Deutschland.

Alongside this, a small number of ad hoc in-house research projects and industrial placements were offered, as well as opportunities to undertake activities developing online resources for our successful DoITPoMS educational website. These programmes were all brought together under the umbrella of CaMPUS (Cambridge Materials Placements for Undergraduates in the Summer) in 2011, and the scheme began to look like it does today. We now offer around 30 internships each summer across our European partner institutions, industrial links, in-house research-project hosts, and DoITPoMS. The A&B Company continues to support our European placements; some funds are received from the University ESPRC DTP grant; Mr Peter Mason generously supports a number of our in-house internship activities; and we are also extremely grateful to Prof. Peter Thrower and his wife Carol, who enable more students to take up projects. However, due to lack of sufficient funds to cater for all, we have to turn down many students who are excellent CaMPUS applicants.

These opportunities give our students an excellent and valuable experience of research outside their undergraduate course, whilst supporting the research programmes of the hosts. Many CaMPUS interns have contributed to their hosts’ research publications; some have gone on to join the groups that hosted them for PhDs and postdoctoral positions; and some have joined graduate schemes at their host companies.

Therefore, we would love to hear from you if you are able to support additional opportunities for our Materials Science students, whether you are a potential donor or are interested in becoming a host.

[Also published in Materials Eyes, Issue 40]