ALTANA

"Lessons are a lot more exciting than usual"

The chemical industry gets into trouble as there is a lack of qualified employees. Thus there is a demand for new ideas. Dr. Wilfried Scholz, head of Technical Marketing at BYK about shortage of young potential employees and KIS.

Dr. Scholz, what does the German acronym KIS stand for?

KIS stands for the cooperation between the industry and schools. It is an initiative to foster partnerships between schools and chemical companies, which is supported by the German Chemical Industry Association (VCI). There are other similar European programs entitled "Education Industry Partnership."

What are the objectives of the cooperation?

The German chemical industry expects a significant shortfall of qualified chemists in the years to come. By the same token, we have an increased need for highly qualified natural scientists to advance our innovations. The Association rightly points out that special efforts must be made to ensure we have sufficient numbers of qualified junior talent.

What does KIS contribute to this?

We are convinced that an intensive cooperation between a company and one or more schools will be worthwhile. Our chemical-technical assistants, laboratory assistants, engineers, and chemists make it clear to students that chemistry in research and applications is very exciting and fun. The students quickly grasp the practical benefits of chemistry and the lessons are a lot more exciting than usual.

When did the initiative start and are there plans to continue?

The first project was started in 2000 in a technical high school in Hamminkeln, a neighboring community of Wesel. This school also started the initiative. We have since then supported one project a year. Although no school project came together in 2006, we continue to be available for further cooperation in the future.

What exactly happens during the events?

We demonstrate and explain the effects of additives, some of which can be quite surprising, during nine morning sessions held in school and in our com pany. We also produce an additive together with the students, which is then tested in a next step. Analysis is another topic we talk about.

Is this a program that makes the teachers' work easier?

No, most definitely not. The program differs considerably from lesson standards and requires great commitment from the teachers. The project takes much more work than conventional lesson preparation. The school administration also has to actively support the project to make sure the students can attend sessions on nine mornings.

When did the initiative start and are there plans to continue?

The first project was started in 2000 in a technical high school in Hamminkeln, a neighboring community of Wesel. This school also started the initiative. We have since then supported one project a year. Although no school project came together in 2006, we continue to be available for further cooperation in the future.

What exactly happens during the events?

We demonstrate and explain the effects of additives, some of which can be quite surprising, during nine morning sessions held in school and in our com pany. We also produce an additive together with the students, which is then tested in a next step. Analysis is another topic we talk about.

Is this a program that makes the teachers' work easier?

No, most definitely not. The program differs considerably from lesson standards and requires great commitment from the teachers. The project takes much more work than conventional lesson preparation. The school administration also has to actively support the project to make sure the students can attend sessions on nine mornings.

That sounds like work. What are the contributions of ALTANA?

We contribute a lot to the project, and particularly the first project was very work-intensive for us. There was a lot to prepare and coordinate with the teacher. The preparation became more routine in the following years. We needed at least two employees per morning session, who had to volunteer in addition to their "regular" work assignments.

Was it worth it and did the students enjoy it?

I think so. They were usually quite involved and very interested. With the first project, we also held an open house to present the project and the learning content to visitors. That was quite exciting and required a lot of effort. However, many students became interested in an internship and some even applied for an apprenticeship. Even the local press was interested in KIS and ran several positive articles. In my mind, the effort pays off for all involved, and we continue to be open for such projects.

Have there been any other activities of students?

Yes, one chemistry class of the Konrad-Duden High School took the project results and participated in the high school competition "Schools for the Future" of the news magazine Focus. The project was entitled "Additives and the significance of BYK for Wesel." It contained many photos and illustrations about additives. The jury was very impressed, and the students presented their results to 200 people in a 90-minute session.

That sounds like work. What are the contributions of ALTANA?

We contribute a lot to the project, and particularly the first project was very work-intensive for us. There was a lot to prepare and coordinate with the teacher. The preparation became more routine in the following years. We needed at least two employees per morning session, who had to volunteer in addition to their "regular" work assignments.

Was it worth it and did the students enjoy it?

I think so. They were usually quite involved and very interested. With the first project, we also held an open house to present the project and the learning content to visitors. That was quite exciting and required a lot of effort. However, many students became interested in an internship and some even applied for an apprenticeship. Even the local press was interested in KIS and ran several positive articles. In my mind, the effort pays off for all involved, and we continue to be open for such projects.

Have there been any other activities of students?

Yes, one chemistry class of the Konrad-Duden High School took the project results and participated in the high school competition "Schools for the Future" of the news magazine Focus. The project was entitled "Additives and the significance of BYK for Wesel." It contained many photos and illustrations about additives. The jury was very impressed, and the students presented their results to 200 people in a 90-minute session. Specially developed devices are used to retrieve direct samples from production, analyze them, and reset the process control system based on the results. We spoke to Werner Pettau, the Head of Analytical Services at BYK, about modern online analysis.

Dr. Scholz, what does the German acronym KIS stand for?

KIS stands for the cooperation between the industry and schools. It is an initiative to foster partnerships between schools and chemical companies, which is supported by the German Chemical Industry Association (VCI). There are other similar European programs entitled "Education Industry Partnership."

What are the objectives of the cooperation?

The German chemical industry expects a significant shortfall of qualified chemists in the years to come. By the same token, we have an increased need for highly qualified natural scientists to advance our innovations. The Association rightly points out that special efforts must be made to ensure we have sufficient numbers of qualified junior talent.

What does KIS contribute to this?

We are convinced that an intensive cooperation between a company and one or more schools will be worthwhile. Our chemical-technical assistants, laboratory assistants, engineers, and chemists make it clear to students that chemistry in research and applications is very exciting and fun. The students quickly grasp the practical benefits of chemistry and the lessons are a lot more exciting than usual.