Building on biorenewables

In late November, TU Delft announced its goal to graduate twenty-five dual degree PhD students with Brazil’s University of Campinas (Unicamp) by the year 2020.

This aim represents a deepening of the universities’ collaboration, which was made official in November 2012, when the TU Delft’s Brazil location opened in partnership with BE-Basic.  The TU Delft/Unicamp collaboration focuses on renewable materials and biofuels, known as biorenewables.

Dual degree doctoral candidates will follow joint courses in English, receive joint supervision and complete a required international experience degree component.  TU Delft Professor Patricia Osseweijer, who is implementing the TU Delft’s business plan for this collaboration with TU Delft Professor Luuk van der Wielen, sees the two universities as an ideal match for this dual track.  “Delft and Campinas provide complementary knowledge for the PhD students,” she says. “By providing fellowships and organizing joint supervision and education we have a perfect set-up for double degrees.”

It seems that students agree.  “We already received requests from selected top candidates,” according to Osseweijer.  The next major step forward comes in February, when a contingent of Brazilian professors will travel to Delft, to “further develop joint PhD projects that will contribute to and benefit from the Double Degree program,” Osseweijer says.  

The University of Campinas and TU Delft first joined forces in 1999.  Since then, the collaboration has continued in part through joint projects and education funded by the BE-Basic partnership. The dual degree program “is a logical continuation to that,” says Osseweijer. Last July, the TU Delft/BE Basic office moved to its permanent location at Unicamp – a nice home for the Double Degree plan, which Osseweijer is a forward-thinking one.  “The need for well-trained academics in the field of sustainable technology and biorenewables production is high,” she says, “as we wish to address climate change and energy security challenges—as well as economic impacts.”  

Brazil is the world’s largest sugar cane producer and the number two producer of ethanol worldwide, and already has thirty years of experience with developing the technology that supports biorenewables.  In fact, the universities have already offered a joint Biobased Business Development Beyond Bioethanol course. 

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