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PhD on Innovation Pathways for TES

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - INPATH-TES (PhD on Innovation Pathways for TES)

Reporting period: 2016-11-01 to 2018-04-30

To fulfil some gaps and needs identified by the SET-plan Roadmap for Education and Training, the project “Innovative Pathway for PhD research in Thermal Energy Storage” (INPATH-TES), coordinated by the University of Lleida, Spain, was launched in May 2015. The project had a duration of three years, and it was funded within the framework of the research and innovation programme Horizon 2020 by the European Commission (EC).
The original goal of INPATH-TES was to create a network of academia, research institutes and small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) to cooperate in defining and implementing a joint PhD programme on TES technologies. However, because of some barriers related to differences in the regulations in the different participating countries, the implementation of a joint PhD programme was not possible. An alternative approach based on joint supervision of PhD students, also known as co-tutelles, was adopted to fulfil the main project objectives.
The final result of such a network will lead to the qualification of professionals in TES technologies for European research and industry institutions. The specific objectives and outcomes of INPATH-TES project were:
• to establish a unique PhD programme in the field of TES,
• to develop at least 20 ECTS equivalent common training modules,
• to develop four technology oriented PhD courses,
• to establish one annual joint workshop for PhD students,
• to aim at graduating 28 PhD students per year, and
• to exchange at least 14 PhD students per year between industry and academia.
The INPATH-TES consortium gathered 22 partners from 14 European countries, and consisted of 14 universities, 3 research institutes, 3 industries, and 2 SME. Currently, they are the core of a future larger network of excellent R&D institutions, and industries for co-funding and industrial placement, sharing infrastructure capacities, and enhancing mobility of students.
The overall approach of INPATH-TES involved a work plan divided in six work packages, being either coordination or support activities.
A total of 14 courses equivalent to 106 ECTS have been developed by the consortium, and can be grouped according to their subject matter or specialization level in three main groups:
• Basic common PhD courses. This group consists of the following five courses:
Course 1: Research and PhD,
Course 2: Introduction to thermal energy storage,
Course 3: Thermal energy storage materials,
Course 4: Testing and characterisation of thermal energy storage materials, and
Course 5: Heat and mass transfer and sizing of energy storage devices.
• Research management, dissemination, and communication courses (“soft skills”). This group contains the following five courses:
Course 6: Intellectual property and patenting ideas,
Course 7: Idea to product development,
Course 8: Dissemination and communication of R+D+I,
Course 9: Funding of research and project management, and
Course 10: Management and entrepreneurship.
• Common technology specialisation courses. This group contains four specialization courses:
Course 11: Thermal energy storage applications for buildings,
Course 12: Demand side management concepts and energy storage,
Course 13: Large scale and industrial energy storage, and
Course 14: Energy policy and market development.
The developed learning material is implemented in the constructive alignment perspective in the EIT (European Institute of Innovation and Technology)/KIC InnoEnergy pedagogical methodology of student-centred learning, aligned teaching, and active learning.
An e-learning repository platform has been commissioned to host all the learning materials that was delivered in the PhD curricula. The online learning platform self-learning section consists of recorded videos, lectures, automatically corrected exercise, virtual lab, filmed study visits and online literatures. A review process has been proposed with steering from the Training Advisory Board (TAB) where three levels of review will be performed for each lesson produced:
• Pedagogical review by peers.
• Content wise review by peers.
• IT Review by the InnoEnergy IT support team.
Besides the PhD curricula developed, a 60 ECTS online joint master will be implemented at the University of Lleida and the University of Barcelona with the participation of other consortium members as lecturers. Most of the learning material for the master is based on the material developed for the PhD curriculum. If this initiative would be successful, the consortium could decide to go a step further and to implement a university Master on TES.
A crucial coordinating activity was the implementation of the joint PhD in the partner countries, as it was a key success factor for the future of the PhD programme. The different legislative barriers and the composition of a PhD programme in the partner countries were evaluated. Based on the main differences that were found, the consortium decided that the simpler strategy to achieve cooperation between partners’ universities is to start joint supervision PhDs, or co-tutelles. A co-tutelle is an agreement on joint supervision of students at PhD level. Such an agreement must be signed by representatives of the two universities involved, the PhD candidate, and the candidate's supervisors. More than 30 bilateral agreements have been proposed between the partners from academia, and most of them have already been approved or are in an advanced negotiation state. Five students have already enrolled in co-tutelle PhDs, and two more are about to enrol starting next September 2018.
Furthermore, a framework agreement has been proposed and approved by 20 out of 22 partners that will continue in the future INPATH-TES network. The agreement is currently being under the signature process.
This project has the aim to unequivocally improve and accelerate the existing education and training activities in the university of TES technologies. With the implementation of this PhD programme following the SET-Plan, it is projected to graduate at least 28 new doctors experts in the technology that will join the European workforce. The impact and use of the project was:
• A unique PhD programme on Thermal Energy Storage.
• Educating excellent professionals and researchers on TES.
• Bringing Europe to the leadership of the technology of TES.
• Sharing knowledge on technical writing and science dissemination, intellectual property rights, entrepreneurship, and business models, and project management and research funding.
• Optimizing university resources by using e-learning and MOOCs technologies.
• Sharing knowledge on TES.
• Disseminating the knowledge inside and outside the network created, by inviting external PhD students to attend the annual INPATH-TES workshop.
• Wider dissemination access with direct industrial relevance and deployment aspects focussing on developed future markets.
• Transfer technology between academia and industry.