The importance of education and dissemination
The main products of research are scientific publications in international journals, so it is natural enough for a scientific research organisation's capacities to be measured, at least approximately, by the number of papers published by its scientists. Since 1992, the Consortium's researchers have between them published nearly 4100 scientific papers – a significant volume of work that indicates a vital and growing organisation.
That said, research cannot survive – especially as time goes on – purely on the quality of its work. It is essential that we invest in advanced training opportunities for new generations of scientists, but it is just as important that we make every effort to understand and divulge the opportunities offered by advanced materials to industry and society in general.
This is particularly true for materials chemistry, a field that, lacking in the immediacy of, say medicine, is difficult to promote. Not that it is any less important – indeed, it is of strategic importance in product and process innovation and therefore a key component in the quality of our lives.
For this reason, advanced training and the spread of scientific culture are both key for the Consortium. It accordingly puts a great deal into the ongoing dissemination of science through MiUR-funded projects, and in promoting numerous internal initiatives. Particularly important among these are:
- The National INSTM Conference on Materials Science and Technology, a biennial event that brings together a multitude of disciplines, enabling interaction between university researchers and players in all aspects of materials science, technology and engineering.
- The National AIMAT Conference, organised jointly with the Associazione Italiana d’Ingegneria dei Materiali (AIMAT).
- The National Forum of Young Researchers in Materials Science and Technology, which promotes the contribution of young scientists to basic and applied research.
- The National School of Materials Science held in Bressanone and organised jointly with CNR's Molecular Design Department and Padua University.
Alongside these initiatives, INSTM funds doctorate and post-doctorate grants, research scholarships, master courses and fixed-term contracts for researchers. Together with other institutions, it also organises specialist schools and promotes the development of international cooperation. It does this also by helping young researchers spend time abroad in qualified research institutes. It also supports and participates in the organisation of numerous conventions in Italy and further afield.
It also manages an online database containing information about all its members. This information, which is constantly updated and is freely accessible, describes the areas of interest and the scientific expertise of its member groups. It also offers information about grants, job opportunities and education. Through this database, INSTM clarifies the extent and capabilities of its entire research network, putting it at the service of industry and other organisations seeking cooperation.
All in the name of INSTM's constant and longstanding objective to expand and fortify what is a truly extraordinary heritage: our university research.