The European Commission has awarded Drexel a new associate partnership in a global consortium of universities offering graduate students a fully funded Master’s in Materials for Energy Storage and Conversion (MESC). Drexel is the only American university partnered with the prestigious MESC program and is funded at approximately $3.4M for implementation and scholarships.
Begun in 2005 and re-booted as MESC+ this summer, the program is conducted through eight research institutions in six countries, giving graduate students a multicultural experience at some of the world’s leading energy laboratories -- with courses taught entirely in English.
The MESC+ program will be administered through the College of Engineering’s A.J. Drexel Nanomaterials Institute (DNI) under the leadership of Dr. Yury Gogotsi. Gogotsi is the founding director of DNI and the Distinguished University and Charles T. and Ruth M. Bach Professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering (MSE).
“As is the case for all international programs, the MESC+ program allows Drexel to welcome the best and brightest students to campus in order to take advantage of the cutting-edge research and scholarship that is taking place here,” said Daniela Ascarelli, associate vice provost for International Programs and director of Drexel Study Abroad. “This is a validation of the value of developing global partnerships.”
Drexel’s application to the European Commission was bolstered by a letter from Drexel University President John A. Fry.
An International Edge
Gogotsi, who has taught several MESC courses in France, said he was “delighted” with the development because it allows Drexel to bring students into its labs for full-time research that carries both a full scholarship and a stipend – highly unusual for a Master’s degree program.
“Whenever I go to energy-related conferences, I meet MESC alumni – in the US, Canada, Mexico and Europe – because they work all around the world. Many of them did thesis work at Drexel,” said Gogotsi. “We truly look forward to continuing this great program and hosting new MESC students at Drexel.”
Other College of Engineering faculty members who have taught MESC students include Dr. Michel Barsoum, distinguished professor, MSE; Dr. Jason Baxter, associate professor in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering (CBE); Dr. Aaron Fafarman, assistant professor, CBE; Dr. Steven May, associate professor, MSE; Dr. Vibha Kalra, associate professor, CBE; and Dr. Maureen Tang, assistant professor, CBE.
The highly competitive MESC+ program draws students from the world over -- France, Spain, Poland, Pakistan, Thailand, China, the Philippines, Vietnam and other countries. Students must apply for admission. Program members will consider those from a variety of backgrounds—including materials, mechanical engineering, and chemical engineering—whose concentration is energy storage and conversion. Drexel undergraduates who are interested in pursuing a Master’s degree with research on batteries, fuel cells, solar cells and supercapacitors are particularly encouraged to apply.
The MESC+ program mission is to graduate international students with a range of highly sought-after skills taught by some of Europe’s leading authorities in the field. It comprises two years of coursework in interdisciplinary fundamental and applied fields of materials science, electrochemistry, chemistry, fuel cells, and battery and photovoltaic technologies.
Students begin with a semester in France, followed by a semester in Poland. After Poland, the cohort is split into three equal groups for coursework in France, Spain, or Slovenia. Three-week breaks are built into the schedule to allow for a smooth transition to the next location. Three semesters culminate with a six-month Master’s thesis completed either at Drexel or another member institution based on the graduate student’s preference and his/her field of study. The thesis is defended in France.
Member universities all have world-renowned research laboratories in the field of energy-related materials. They include Aix-Marseille Université in Marseille, France; Université Paul Sabatier in Toulouse, France; Warsaw University of Technology in Warsaw, Poland; Université de Picardie Jules Verne in Amiens, France; Universidad del Pais Vasco in Bilbao, Spain; the University of Ljubljana, in Ljubljana, Slovenia; and Deakin University in Geelong, Australia.
The Drexel Advantage
In the past, CoE has hosted between one and four MESC students annually. Among those who have moved through the program are Muhammad Boota, now working at Intel in Portland, Oregon; Kanit Hantanasirisakul, a 2016 graduate of MESC and now an MSE PhD candidate working under Gogotsi; and Yohan Dall’Agnese, who earned two PhDs simultaneously between Drexel and Paul Sabatier and is now an associate professor at Jilin University in Changchun, China.
Yet another graduate student, Pol Sallés Perramon, is currently completing his MESC thesis here at Drexel after semesters in Amiens, Warsaw, and Toulouse. His work through DNI is in transparent electrochromic and energy storage devices made of MXene, the two-dimensional materials discovered here.
“I chose the MESC program in part to travel around the world,” said Sallés. “It is mostly a European master program, but its collaboration with international universities is what made it more appealing for me from the very beginning. It is nice to see the different way of teaching and working for each country, from which you can learn a lot. More personally, it is a unique opportunity to see different cultures, know new places, and learn languages.
“I chose Drexel to do my thesis for mainly three reasons: the topic they proposed was one of my favorites, the idea of traveling to the USA (I had never travelled so far from home in Barcelona), and the famous reputation of Yury Gogotsi and his group,” Sallés added.
Gogotsi said the MESC program has graduated more than 200 students globally, most of whom go on to pursue PhD degrees or to work for companies producing batteries. For those students, he said, the “excellence” of Drexel’s program became obvious while they were defending their theses and the depth of research was confirmed.
Since September 2006, the MESC program has received funding through the European Commission as an Erasmus Mundus Master Course, which supports the most prestigious European courses as part of its Joint Master Degree program. The European Commission is the executive of the European Union and promotes its general, political, and strategic interests.
Drexel became involved formally with MESC in 2010. This latest iteration, MESC+, continues the program and extends its Erasmus Mundus funding. Drexel’s involvement will be funded through 2024.
Students who are interested in hearing more about the MESC+ program or who want to apply should contact Danielle Kopicko, DNI associate director, at the A.J. Drexel Nanomaterials Institute (DNI) for an application.
--By Wendy Plump, Staff Writer, CoE