​From le​ft: Hasnain Thathia, Shankar Paramasivam, Nina Silow, Martin Fagerström, Ola Isaksson, Adis Imsirovic, Priska Herzog and Johan Malmqvist at the kickoff meeting for the Chalmers Production Area of Advance Research Associate Programme. ​
​Photo: Carina Schultz

Seed-bed for future production researchers

​During 2018, the Production Area of Advance launches a new Research Associate Programme. Four students from four different master programs have been appointed as the pioneering research associates. Product development in sports, Scandinavia-Balkan industrial design comparison, sustainability in connection to digital technologies and bio-composites are their topics of interest.
The number of young educated people is decreasing around the world and in the future it will be a fierce competition regarding recruiting young engineers. This is recognized in industry but also by universities. Chalmers wants to secure a new generation of researchers but not everyone knows what it is like to work as a researcher. The Production Area of Advance now launches a new Research Associate Programme. Professor Johan Malmqvist who is the Education Officer within the Production Area of Advance​ explains the purpose of the programme.

– I really like my job as a researcher and this is an opportunity to show students some of the benefits of being a researcher. With this programme, we want to enable talented students from our master programmes to obtain some experience from research activities such as developing research plans, carrying out simulations or experiments, analyzing data and presenting or publishing your results.

The programme is inspired by the “Undergraduate Research Opportunity Programs” often found at US universities. However, the structure is unique for the Production Area of Advance Research Associate Programme. It is meant to have a bottom-up approach. If interested in applying for a position in the programme, students are urged to take the initiative to make contact with a faculty member with a project idea. The idea is then put into an application and, if the application is granted, the research associate will receive a senior researcher as mentor during the project. Projects are to be reported both mid-term and in the end of the spring term. 

The pioneers of this seed-bed programme are four students from four different master programmes.

Priska Herzog is studying Product Development and her mentor is Professor Ola Isaksson. Priska is very active in her spare time and like adventurous sports like snowboarding, surfing, kayaking and mountain biking. She also takes her interest a step further and has e.g. developed and built an own snowboard. Her research associate project is therefore linked to her burning interest in sports. The title is “Involve R&D in sports in product development”. But why is sports interesting for product development research? Priska explains her view.

– Sport athletes differs from other consumers in that they are very experimental in finding advantages that can make them win in a competition. Sports technology therefore often includes short product development cycles, rapid prototyping, and a collaborative customer that need better products to win and brings immediate feedback and a personal connection. This area is also somewhat less cost sensitivity than other consumer areas. We tend to put money on our hobbies.

With this project Priska wants to raise awareness about sports technology in product development to improve the offering of sports projects for students and to improve the contact areas between Chalmers and sports.

Adis Imsirovic is a student in Industrial Design Engineering with Senior Lecturer Helena Strömberg as his mentor. 

– I am born and raised in Sweden but my family is from Bosnia and we have spent all summer holidays there. During my upbringing I have developed a curiosity about if the design thinking in the two cultures differs. 

The research associate programme gives Adis the opportunity to dive into this question. His project is called “Do designers from Scandinavia interpret design differently from designers in Balkan?”. Adis wants to perform a study where he meets universities and teachers as well as product development departments in companies in both Sweden and Balkan countries. Are there any differences? If yes, how would it be possible to cooperate spite the differences and what difficulties would occur? 

Hasnain Thathia is a student in Production Engineering mentored by Assistant Professor Mélanie Despeisse. His project focuses on the new challenges faced by the manufacturing industry as a result of the increased need for mass-customised products while improving the sustainability performance of production systems. The title of Hasnain’s project is “The influence of digital technologies towards sustainable production”.

– My aim is to review digital technologies in the manufacturing industry and assess their potential to improve performance with a specific focus on environmental sustainability. These technologies include software for modelling and simulation, virtual/digital factory, cloud computing and sensors which play a huge role in Industry 4.0. I would like to evaluate the performance of these digital technologies implemented in industries and compare them with the traditional technologies from a sustainable perspective (energy, waste, material usage, data accuracy).

Shankar Paramasivam is a student in Applied Mechanics with Associate Professor Martin Fagerström and Professor Gunnar Westman​ as his mentors. In his project, Shankar faces a bit of a challenge since his background is from mechanical engineering and the projects includes quite a lot of chemistry. This project also differs from the others since it is initiated by the mentor and not the student. The title is “Supporting the upscaling of sustainable biocomposites from cellulose fibres for use in structural components”.
 
– The aim of the project is to support research to find a more sustainable alternative to the commonly used composites carbon fiber composites and glass fiber composites that are non-biodegradable and takes a lot of energy to produce.

Even if the subject is new to Shankar, he finds the project very interesting.

– It combines the mechanical engineering knowledge that I already have with a new area. Even though the project includes chemical knowledge, I feel confident since I will have two mentors by my side. I look forward to learn more about biocomposites.


We will follow these projects and report the results in the end of the spring term. Did the concept of the research associate programme turn out successful? Stay tuned to find out.


For more information, please contact:
Professor Johan Malmqvist, Dean of education MATS and Educational Officer of the Production Area of Advance.


Text: Nina Silow

Published: Tue 20 Feb 2018. Modified: Wed 21 Feb 2018