Excellent career prospects in the
electrochemical and electroplating industry
Modern coatings have become omnipresent in our everyday lives. They include special coatings for corrosion and wear protection in the automotive industry and other areas, precious metal contacts in electrical and electronics equipment, and functional surfaces in medical technology, for example on syringes and implants. Even more eye-catching are the decorative finishes used in the jewelry industry or the high-tech coatings used to fashion bathrooms, furniture or household appliances. The broad spectrum of applications makes this a rapidly growing market, which in turn creates an economic incentive to develop new materials and coatings. The keyword here is innovative nano-coatings. Surface treatment technology is therefore an attractive area for engineers and technical specialists with an eye to future job options after completion of their studies or training. They are in the right place at O&S, the international trade fair for surfaces and coatings to be staged from 24 to 26 June in Stuttgart.
The German Surface Treatment Association (ZVO) is also a strong proponent of R&D, as evidenced by their endowment of professorship for Electrochemistry and Electroplating Technology on the 1st of August 2010 at the Ilmenau University of Technology. This was made possible by the joint efforts of both parties. It is the first endowed professorship in Germany established by an entire industry sector of small and medium-size enterprises rather than a single company, as is usually the case. The ZVO has endowed the professorship for a period of five years with a total of €400,000. This basic endowment provides a foundation for raising more funds from other parties, which is usually many times greater than the basic endowment. At the end of the endowment, Ilmenau University will take over responsibility for the professorship, which is highly beneficial for ZVO and its members. Dr. Andreas Bund assumed the professorship at the start of the endowment. His areas of activity are electrochemical surface treatment technology as well as energy storage and conversion.
Along with electrochemical surface treatment and energy technologies, the research focuses of the endowed professorship include numerical simulation of these processes, ionic liquids as reactive media in electrochemistry, and conductive polymers. One current project is Alti2De, which stands for "Alternative coatings to cadmium and hard chromium with potential for second-generation developments". The objective is REACH-compliant development of new coatings, all of which fulfill the strict requirements of the aerospace industry. The objective of another project, "Linking of Model and Commercial Active Materials for Lithium Ion Batteries by In-situ Determination of Thermodynamic and Kinetic Data", is different. Its aim is to generate environmentally friendly power from lithium-ion batteries as efficient and scalable electrochemical energy storage devices. Energy storage devices are a key component on the way to achieving a future energy supply with even lower environmental impact, and they form the basis for sustainable electromobility. An equally exciting project is LasVeGaS, a playfully chosen acronym that translates into "long-term stable front-side metalization based on environmentally friendly electrodeposited coatings". Its aim is to significantly reduce product costs by optimizing the front-side metalization of silicon solar cells.
Consistent fostering of
new talent in surface treatment technology
To support the consistent fostering of new talent and ongoing training in surface treatment technology, the Ilmenau University of Technology introduced a master's course of study in electrochemistry and electroplating in the 2013/14 winter semester, which is currently unique in Germany. It is open to students with a bachelor's degree in material management, material science, material engineering or another field of natural science or engineering, or with an equivalent degree in a technical field. "The four-semester course of study is aimed at students who wish to specialize in electrochemistry and electroplating", explains Professor Bund. The content of the master's course of study focuses on a comprehensive understanding of electrochemical processes.
The curriculum is strongly oriented to the needs of the electroplating and surface treatment industry. Here as well the Ilmenau University of Technology cooperates closely with the ZVO and many enterprises in the industry. For example, the ZVO organizes external classes with renowned speakers - a unique feature of the course of study - and is involved in the classes of the elective module and in the organization of practical activities, such as projects and master's theses. Master's students have the opportunity to actively contribute to the orientation and scope of various research areas right from the start of their studies, such as:
Development and characterization of active materials and electrolytes for electrochemical storage devices
Innovative coating systems (metals, alloys and composites) for decorative and functional applications
Numerical simulation of electrochemical processes
prospects for Ilmenau graduates
"Graduates of the master's course of study have excellent prospects with a broad and interesting spectrum of activities in research and innovation-oriented vocations", assures Bund, who expects to send the first new graduates into industry after the 2015 summer semester. In those settings or in research facilities, they can be expected to master the basic and practical challenges of electrochemical research and development. Their acquired expertise will enable them to independently and quickly become familiar with future technologies in electrochemistry and electroplating as well as related fields, such as materials science or plasma technology. The graduates have excellent career prospects in the medical technology, electronics and telecommunications sectors, metal processing, the automotive and aircraft industries, and mechanical and plant engineering. Other fields with high future promise, based on current trends, include sustainable energy supply and electromobility.
Methods and products of great interest to the Ilmenau University of Technology, among others, are being presented at O&S 2014. In addition, many companies that have made the endowed professorship at Ilmenau possible are among the participants.
from 24 to 26 June 2014, Fair ground Stuttgart (Germany)
Image: R. Eberhard, messekompakt.de, EBERHARD print & medien agentur gmbh
Source: Deutsche Messe AA