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MEI Online: Hydrometallurgy: Latest News: May 10th 2007


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:: Student-Industry Research Program for Undergraduate University Students

The Parker Centre’s program for providing a hydrometallurgy research experience for undergraduate university students had a face-lift during the 2006-2007 Australian summer university vacation.

The original program, the Summer Jobs Program, which was first run during the summer of 2003-2004, was internally funded by the Parker Centre. Four years on, Education Program Manager Dr Jane Rosser says that the program was renamed the Student-Industry Research Program to reflect the fact that the program is now sponsored by industry and has a direct relationship with industry.

"The student research projects are all designed to investigate aspects of hydrometallurgical processing that are relevant to industry," says Dr Rosser. “Industry, if they wish, can also scope projects." The purpose of the restyled program remains the same: to give Australian and international students experience in research which they don’t get as undergraduates, with the aim of encouraging the students to do further research in hydrometallurgy as part of their studies and/or enter the minerals industry when they have finished their degree.

The new program provides students with an opportunity to develop networks with researchers and potential employers in industry and provides industry with an introduction to top student researchers who could be future employees.

The successful applicants are employed for around ten weeks as research assistants and work on meaningful research projects with Centre researchers, predominantly at either CSIRO Minerals (Waterford laboratories), Curtin University of Technology or Murdoch University. Their projects, as with the Centre's research projects, involve research related to either alumina, base metals or gold processing. All students present their results at a Student Symposium held at the end of the program each year and provide a technical report to the Parker Centre and the sponsoring company/companies.

For the past three years, the summer research program has included two chemical engineering students from the University of Cape Town in South Africa. In 2007, with the help of some of the Centre's Industry Participants, the international element of the program is being extended to include students from Russia for the first time: four Russian students will arrive in Perth in June 2007 to work during their Northern Hemisphere summer university vacation. The plan is to also include students from India in 2008.

Dr Rosser says the program's aim of encouraging the future involvement of the students in hydrometallurgy is already being achieved:

  • Two of the students (Mr Andrew Jones and Ms Venny Tjandrawan) employed in the 2003-2004 program went on to do Honours in the Parker Centre in 2004 and then worked as research assistants within the Centre (in Extractive Metallurgy at Murdoch University). Venny started a PhD within the Parker Centre in April 2007. Two of the other 2003-2004 students undertook their final year Chemical Engineering research project with their summer supervisor and another continued her vacation work as the research project requirement of an Applied Chemistry degree.
  • After participating in the 2003-2004 program, Mr Yoko Pranolo and Ms Danielle Thompson were also employed in the 2004-2005 program, and are currently both working in the Parker Centre as Project Scientists at CSIRO Minerals.
  • Following the 2004-2005 program, two of the employed students (Mr Salvatore Blanco and Mr James Didovich) were Parker Centre Honours students in 2005 and then gained employment in the minerals industry (Salvatore with Pilbara Iron and James with Rio Tinto Technical Services). Another student, Mr Paul Phatara-Atikom, subsequently undertook an MSc in the Centre.
  • Two of the students in the 2005-2006 program are currently Parker Centre students. Mr Laurence Dyer started a PhD in 2006 while Ms Carla Zammit commenced a PhD in early 2007 after undertaking an Honours project in the Centre that extended her research over the 2005-2006 summer.




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