The heavy rain and thunder which quickly followed did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of those present.The date though had been chosen so that the school immediately proceded the ICG Congress in Shanghai with the intention of attracting more overseas delegates. In the event most were still from China, but with India, Japan and Sudan also represented.
The day began early for teachers and students alike with an 8am start in a well equipped lecture theatre just a quarter of a mile from the hotel. Apart from the first day, five 45 minute lectures were completed each day before the lunch break at noon. The subject matter ranged over glass fundamentals through structural analysis to advanced applications, and from glass strength to optical properties such as coatings and quantum dot structures. The ICG team gave about half the lectures and the remainder were presented by academics from Wuhan itself or other Chinese Universities working on glass.
At the end of each lecture the students were encouraged to ask questions and this was one of the successful aspects of the course. Indeed based on student perceptions of the event, the next course will shift the emphasis slightly from formal teaching to both unstructured and structured discussion sessions, the latter having a more tutorial emphasis.
On the first afternoon, students gave short presentations of their research. This was planned to help them find their voices but also to inform those present of the wide range of glass activities in China. Presentations spanned subjects as diverse as foamed products for buildings to nanocrystalline fibre laser amplifiers. Almost immediately afterwards project subjects and groupings were announced, based on individual interests. The target date for presenting their conclusions was the last afternoon of the school.
Immediately after lunch on the second day the group activities began and the class room atmosphere was almost as electric as the gathering storm clouds outside. Separating the students from their groups for dinner at 6pm proved a significant task. The third afternoon was equally intense and a planned social session after dinner in a local coffee house proved a time for discussion with tutors and final honing of presentations.
On the final afternoon, eight groups had 10 minutes to present their conclusions and were then faced by a further 10 minute grilling by speakers and students alike. Subjects ranged widely from the analysis of archeological samples through the carbon footprint of double glazed windows, and from the motion of oxygens linked to sodium ion diffusion to 3D printing. Finally the winning group who examined the value of double glazing in Wuhan was the one ajudged to have produced the best structured and most persuasive argument. The members of this group were: Zhou Wang, Kai Chen, Jun Zhang, Wenke Li and Jinwei Li. Their photograph while receiving the award is shown here.
Also shown on attached pictures are the whole class, four of the lecturers deliberating over the project winners and a cartoon drawing of three of the ICG teaching staff. Can you guess their identities - the teachers that is?
We would also like to thank all the speakers: Prof Yiwang Bao (China Building Materials Academy), Prof Reinhard Conradt (Aachen University), Prof Bernard Hehlen (Montpellier University), Prof Lili Hu (SIOM, CAS, China), Prof John Parker (Sheffield University), Prof Jianrong Qui (South China University of Technology), Prof Jinjun Ren (SIOM, CAS, China), Prof Jian Ruan (Wuhan University of Technology, Dr Akira Takada (Asahi Glass Company), Prof Rene Vacher (Montpellier University), Prof Yuansheng Wang (FJIRSM, CAS, China), Prof Song Ye (Tongji University), Prof Xiujian Zhao (Wuhan University of Technology).
In conclusion ICG would like to extend particular thanks to the Dean of Faculty at Wuhan, Prof Xiujian Zhao and the local event organiser, Prof Chao Liu. The quality of the organisation for the event was praised by several students in their final questionnaire with comments such as "Wonderful" and "Don't change anything!"
The next ICG Winter School is planned for 13-17th November 2017. Do put the date in your diary.
Author: John Parker