In this podcast I had the honor to interview Dr. Uwe Rinner, a chemistry expert, in his field and Herbert, a student who is studying Applied Chemistry at the University of Applied Sciences Krems. We covered in this podcast the advantages of the Applied Chemistry program, where it is located, what the student think of it and what is a practical tanning semester?
Link to the program webpage:
The podcast transcript is below.
Hello and welcome to the GolgiRadio. I’m your host Bar Laub, and today with me is Dr. Rinner. Hello.
Hello bar. Very nice to be here. Thanks for the invitation.
Today we’re going to talk about the applied chemistry program at the University of Applied Sciences Krems.
Dr Rinner is an expert in chemistry. Can you please tell us about yourself?
My background is chemistry, as you have already explained. I have studied chemistry at the technical university in Graz. I’ve specialized in natural product synthesis. An area that’s very fascinating for me. Very fantastic. Because you learn, what nature is doing, how you can create, and produce and synthesize those compounds in the lab. I’ve been active in this kind of field for approximately 20 years now. Always stayed at universities, moved around a little bit within Austria stayed at University of Vienna for several years, but also had some appointments outside in the U S or Canada. Yes. Today we’re recording. From Krems can you please tell us about Krems? It’s Krems is small, medium sized town in Austria. The town is very close to Vienna. It’s directly located at the Danube. Beautiful area with its wine yards, a very touristic place actually and a old city. Nevertheless, the city is focusing on new developments. The student population is quite high here. A lot of universities. And the place where we are recording from today. FH-Krems, the university of applied sciences, Krems.
University of applied sciences. What is that actually? (link to Wikipedia)
It is a type of an education system that’s typically to Austria and to some other countries such as Germany. We have regular universities and have universities of applied sciences and those universities of applied sciences focus. That’s what’s already in the name. On the application of the disciplines that are taught. So they are more related to industry. They are more related to the practical questions of that specific topic that is thought chemistry, for example. We are working together intensely with the chemical industry and this is one of the main characteristics of our program.
Can you please tell us about the program? How did you compose it?
What we have here is the first chemistry program at an university of applied science in Austria. It was developed over the last few years. We spend quite a lot of time thinking about what the industry needs are and what are the changes that have taken place in the recent years. Regarding digitization and environmental aspects. What those changes are require from an expert in the chemistry field? We designed this program according to those needs! We put together a bachelor program, which focuses on two different areas one area is organic pharmaceutical chemistry within all topics which are so fascinating in chemistry and the other topic would is instrumental analysis. We are looking forward training the future experts in those fields. Another thing that’s very characteristic for our program is that we included a lot of topics which are essential for success in chemical industry e.g. the digitization process is one of the crucial developments. In recent years. We have a lot of informatics, applied informatics in the program. We are training our students on this base and give them the basic skills in computer sciences that starts with knowledge and that typically office applications, but goes way further than that. For example, the databases, chemical structure research and even molecular modeling is included in that program. Little bit of programming so that students actually get an idea of what computers can do in the lab or in industry. Another thing that’s very important for us is the environmental aspect. We have included topics such as renewable resources green chemistry. Anything that is important for the future.
You said that this is a new program. How many applicants do you accept?
It’s a new program. It started last year actually, and the maximum group size is 40 students per year because we don’t want to have an overcrowded program. We want to have small group sizes and to be able to focus on every student individually.
That sounds very easy to ask questions or having a small groups in the lab courses.
That’s a big advantage for every single student who consider to join our program. We see that also in our first group of students. Smaller group sizes definitely are better, because we can focus on individual questions. We can focus on promoting different lab skills. If we go into the lab exercises. I know every single of my student. Thus, I can guide them to where their own future might be or what their interest are.
Regarding the lab courses. What kind of highlight some of the experiments that you do?
Generally what I would like to highlight is that we try to find a new approach when we teach. Our lab courses, which are generally implemented in every single chemistry program sucjs as organic chemistry, analytical chemistry, biochemistry, physical chemistry. So everything is there. However, what’s novel to our program or what we try to mix the different disciplines. So we don’t go for a completely inorganic lab, a completely organic lab. We try to mix that together for example even in the analytical chemistry lab, students are synthesizing something and then what ever teammate a are actually analyzing. So a student would see the whole process, not just a very tiny little step analyzing a product they get from a teacher or the professor, but going through the whole production line, seeing the whole problem. The whole idea of a more holistic approach. This is what we see from this kind of teaching style and we have approaching that problem is that students start to see chemistry as a whole and not just as tiny little individual problems somehow loosely associated.
In your curriculum, it stated practical training semester or PTS. Not many in universities has that kind of structures integrated into their program.
So what’s it? Practical training semester is something that’s very unique to university of applied sciences in Austria. Students get the chance to spend one semester abroad and during that semester, they can either work at the chemical industry or they can go to other universities and conduct research. They can stay in Austria and they can go abroad. It’s a highly intense bachelor thesis. Anything that they are doing during the practical training semester in the lab, either industry or in academia, they can then use for their bachelor thesis. They can basically dip into a the real world of work for a minimum of 22 weeks; hence gaining a lot of experience. Another equally important advantage of the practical training semester is that the student can get relatively good connections to a potential future employer and obtain contacts in industry or academia.
Please tell me more about the language of the course.
The chemistry program is taught in English. That’s a very important choice we made. In order to make this program open for the international community, open for international students. Since we are teaching in English, we see a lot of exchanges going on between the Austrian and international students. Very positive thing for the later future.
Potential future networking, that gives students great advantages for the job market later on. But that also opens the possibility for international students to visit university of Krems and we have a significant interaction with the international community rather than if the program was purely taught in German.
Thank you, dr Rinner.
Hello Herbert. You’re a student in the applied chemistry program at the IMC University of Applied Sciences Krems. Yes.
How do you like the course so far? The labs, the courses, the lectures, etc
They’re good because the teachers are very good at teaching, the labs are really free to work, and if you have any questions, you can ask the teachers and the professors. There are almost no problems if you in the lab. If you have any questions you can ask. You can do what you want and but at the end, the results have to be good. You can work freely and separated like you want the workflow. If you are fast you can go earlier and if you need more time, you can stay longer. It’s how good you are at working in the laboratory. It’s really fun.
How are the lectures?
The lectures are relaxed too. You can come in, you sit there, you just have to listen and you should be patient, but you don’t need to write anything or do something. You just have to sit in there and watch that presentation and maybe be a little bit patient about that.
Are the presentation clear and easy to understand? Yeah for sure. So the key is just keep it short and simple. The most important things are on the slides. If you have any further questions or something like that, you can raise your hand every time and just ask the professors or the teachers about your question. it’s very friendly relationship between the students and the teachers. The PowerPoints sums up very good the topics. So the whole lecture is in the, PowerPoint presentation, and if you have any questions or after the class, you can look it up on the e-desktop.
Is there an experiment that you liked, especially and you would like to share with us ?
I don’t know, because I think ever experiment , it’s on own. Very good and interesting. , but the most exciting thing for me was the analytical part with, for example, with the ion separations and you can determine which ions are reacting. That’s was cool. Another experiment was based on titration. You have to be very precise and you have to know which indicators you use or which solvents that you can separate it or that you producing a precipitate. So it’s kinda challenging. But after the time you get used to it, then you know it and you know how to do it. So it’s, it’s fine too.
How actually you heard about the University of Applied Sciences Krems?
It was really coincidence cause I planned to study and pharmacy in Vienna before, but then I heard about the program through a good friend of mine. She said that there is a new course and started in Krems and it’s called applied chemistry and it fits all the, areas I’m interested in. So it was pretty clear for me and, and that I wanted to study that because it’s in English too. So I can improve my English skills and study the course that I want. it fits for me at this time.
What are your future plans? Do you have a general idea of what you want to do.
I’m really interested in the Chemistry of plants. It’s about plants and their substances and how to determine or separate the substance from plants and where these substances are produced in this plant. Some may looking forward in this area but I’m not sure right now because environmental technologies is interesting me too. It’s up to the last semester where or in which direction I want to go.
Thank you so much for your time.
Thank you too.