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Accelerating research

Aiming high

Jul 10, 2023 | ANNA ETTLIN

The shortage of skilled workers is particularly pronounced in technical professions. Empa supports and promotes talented individuals at all levels, be it during their apprenticeship, studies, academic career or when starting a business. This support (both internal and external) benefits not only the recipients and Empa, but also the Swiss economy.

Promoting young talents pays off. Empa supports and promotes talented individuals at all levels. Illustration: Empa

Switzerland has a shortage of skilled workers; numerous industries are struggling to recruit highly qualified personnel, and there is no improvement in sight. What many people may not realize: Although Empa is not a university, the research institute supplies the Swiss economy with highly trained experts.

The focus of Empa Quarterly #80 issue is on talented people at all academic levels who benefit from special support measures: financial or organizational, short- or long-term, supported by Empa or financed externally. The measures have one thing in common: They ensure that interns, apprentices, students, researchers and start-up founders can realize their full potential.

It starts at school: Various programs and events are designed to get children and young people excited about the world of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Many Empa researchers are involved in outreach measures or launch their own projects to promote young talent. Empa also wants to position itself as an attractive place to work and learn among young people, in order to attract new apprentices for the more than 40 apprenticeships in ten professions.

Our apprenticeship aces: An apprenticeship at Empa is a rewarding experience. Every year, apprentices successfully complete their training in the ten apprenticeship professions in Dübendorf, St. Gallen and Thun. Whether they are IT specialists, electricians or physics lab technicians - they are all aces in their field. And all of them also have special superpowers. Illustration: Empa
Academia also needs skilled workers

Many Empa researchers teach at Swiss universities, supervise students or even hold professorships. Through internships and Bachelor's and Master's theses at Empa, students enter the world of research. If they decide to pursue an academic career, their personal development at Empa is supported by various measures, whether through the Empa Zukunftsfonds or through external support instruments for young and more experienced researchers. Empa pays particular attention to equal opportunities and diversity, for example striving to increase the proportion of women in senior management positions, which is still (too) low in STEM professions – and thus also at Empa.

Whenever Empa researchers develop a novel material or a disruptive technology, this can give rise to a new company. Empa has already supported more than 100 start-ups and spin-offs in its incubators, which offer mentoring, financial support and networking contacts, among other things.

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Anna Ettlin
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Empa Quarterly#80 Accelerating research 

The young people of today are the decision-makers of tomorrow. In this issue, the focus is therefore not (only) on materials and technologies, but also on the people who make them possible: Researchers, founders, apprentices and students. Through support at all professional and academic levels, these talents can reach new heights in science or enter the Swiss economy as urgently needed skilled workers.

Read the latest EmpaQuarterly online or download the pdf-version.

Empa Quarterly#81 Battery research 

Being able to store energy is a central pillar of a sustainable energy system, since solar and wind energy are not always available in sufficient quantities when they are needed. Good batteries are indispensable for the energy transition, and thus for a more sustainable world. Empa researchers are developing batteries for different applications, from stationary energy storage to electromobility. They are also working on analyzing and recycling end-of-life batteries.

Read the latest EmpaQuarterly online or download the pdf-version.

Empa Quarterly#82 Mining the Atmosphere 

To limit climate change, we need to compensate not only for future emissions, but also for historical ones. One solution would be the "atmospheric vacuum cleaner": we remove the excess CO2 from the atmosphere. But what do we do with it? Instead of extracting the carbon for polymers, medicines, fibers, fuels and the like from crude oil, we use atmospheric CO2. This is the simple – yet extremely challenging in technical terms – idea behind Empa's new research initiative, Mining the Atmosphere.

Read the EmpaQuarterly online or download the pdf-version.

Empa Quarterly#83 Perovskites: Versatile cristals

Over 180 years ago, a curious crystal was discovered in the Ural Mountains. Today, it has given rise to an entire class of materials that is of great interest to researchers: perovskites. What all perovskites have in common is their crystal structure, which gives them unusual properties. By changing the exact composition of the perovskite, scientists can control these properties. Empa researchers are using this promising material to develop solar cells, detectors and quantum dots.

Read the EmpaQuarterly online or download the pdf-version.

Fit to fight

Biophysicist Katharina Hast develops a hydrogel that makes phagocytes fit for treating cancer or chronic wounds. The Uniscientia Foundation is funding the project, which was recently launched.

Next-gen experts

Physics lab technician apprentices Sofie Gnannt and Nick Cáceres showed an outstanding performance at the "Jugend forscht" competition with their project on plastic separation with the help of Terahertz radiation.

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