With its engineering focus, the programme will help to alleviate the shortage of highly-skilled workers in the chemicals industry and is the first degree course of its kind to be offered by an Austrian university of applied sciences. Students will follow a curriculum that has been developed in close collaboration with the chemicals industry and has a very strong practical focus. The Province of Lower Austria is providing EUR 2.4 million in funding for the programme.
Numerous representatives of the chemicals industry attended the opening alongside the programme director Dr. Uwe Rinner, the Vice Rector of IMC Krems and head of its Institute of Biotechnology Prof. Harald Hundsberger, CEO of IMC Krems Ulrike Prommer, Rector of IMC Krems Prof. Eva Werner, and chairman of the Association of the Austrian Chemical Industry Hubert Culik.
Expansion at the Department of Life Sciences
Up to now, IMC Krems’ Department of Life Sciences had offered two English-language programmes: the Medical and Pharmaceutical Biotechnology bachelor and master degrees. The new Applied Chemistry programme expands the department’s course offering and enables it to carry out research in totally new areas:“There are synergies in teaching and we can now develop a new range of scientific methods and technologies as well as offer interdisciplinary elective modules,” explained Dr. Harald Hundsberger, Head of the Institute of Biotechnology at IMC Krems.
“English as the language of instruction gives students the opportunity to broaden their horizons and makes it easier for them to build up an international network of contacts,” says Ulrike Prommer, highlighting the advantages of courses taught in English.
“Although chemistry is a distinct subject and field of research, there are naturally crossovers with biotechnology. You could say we’ve formulated an alchemical concoction, using practical, application-focused analytical and organic chemistry as the main ingredients. We’ve come up with a curriculum that encompasses computer-based methods, statistics and big data, and gives students the tools they need to implement sustainable practices. We want to move towards an approach to chemistry with an emphasis on sustainable raw materials and having a positive impact. There is strong demand for surface chemists, which we want to help satisfy,” commented Uwe Rinner.
Important field of research
11% of the EUR 800 million spent on research by Austria’s industry associations goes into chemistry. “We’ve still got some catching up to do here compared to other countries, and also when it comes to advances in digitalisation and globalisation,” explained Hubert Culik from the Association of the Austrian Chemical Industry. He also pointed out that there is demand for newly qualified, highly skilled workers in the chemicals industry, and that vacancies are waiting to be filled. Culik therefore welcomes this new IMC Krems degree programme.
Fruitful partnership with the chemicals industry
The programme’s close ties with industry were clear to see at a small-scale trade fair organised to enable the new students to make contact with potential employers. The big-name companies with stands included Boehringer-Ingelheim, EcoPlus, Eppendorf, Helios, Lenzing AG, Metadynea, OFI, the Oxford Antibiotics Group, Rembrandtin, Shimadzu, SY-LAB, Tiger and VWR. Numerous representatives of other companies also participated.
“If you want to be able to spark new ideas, you need a burning passion for what you’re doing,” was the advice that Hubert Culik gave to students at the event.