The venue for the Summer School belongs to the French CNRS and is normally less than a 15 minute walk.This time building work required a detour and meant a delayed arrival. The extra energy expended though was mitigated by temperatures lower than we normally experience. Indeed the weather with its heavy rain showers was not at all suitable for the South France.
After a brief introduction we began with background lectures on key glass properties in relation to structure and chemistry. After lunch, an intense afternoon ensued where the students introduced themselves with a brief presentation of their key interests in glass. Finally to close the day, the students had an introductory lecture on Industrial Coatings Technology. The evening reception in a nearby restaurant proved a great mixer and got everyone talking.
An innovation for this year’s Summer School was the running of separate streams, one following a glass science theme, focused more on academic topics, and the second look at glass melting both from an industrial and academic viewpoint. Just under half of the class (22) opted for glass melting but three attendees selected talks from both threads. The melting theme was organised in collaboration with Glass Trend. The aim was to provide a similar programme structure to that which had been successfully enjoyed by glass scientists for the previous 5 years but with lectures tailored to be more appropriate to their interests. Additionally the hope was that by having the two groups together and sharing some activities there would be a cross-fertilisation of ideas and interests to their mutual benefit. The first day was run mostly as a joint session. In just one time slot, those from industry learned about innovation, while those more interested in glass science were taught a thermodynamic approach to structure-property relationships.
The morning of day 2 involved two separate parallel sessions. The glass scientists learned about diffraction methods to study glass structure and were presented with a string of interesting applications. One particularly striking set of results examined float glass surface composition profiles using EXAFS. Those interested in Glass Melting learned about batch composition design and redox chemistry. In the afternoon the students were divided into 10 different groups and each was given an open-ended project to be completed by Friday morning. After 3 hours for students to work on their projects, two lectures in parallel concluded the day’s activities.
No evening meal was organised but a large group of students and lecturers discovered independently a restaurant in town with a television. This featured the fateful Germany vs Brazil World Cup football match. The excitement among the German speakers was tangible as their side’s goal tally mounted but a certain level of decorum had to be maintained as the restaurant owner and the waitress serving were both Brazilian!
On Wednesday a programme again ran partly with the two groups together and partly as two streams. The afternoon was free although many groups spent the first hour pursuing their projects, before leaving for an afternoon of sightseeing and/or sunbathing at the beach. In the evening the course lecturers visited the nearby resort of Palavas. There we ascended a high water tower with an amazing view over the surrounding town and lagoons. The climb was more than sufficient to stimulate our appetites for an excellent evening meal paid for as a thank you gift by ICG. In attendance were Prof Nicoletti (Honorary President) and also Prof Duran, a second member of the ICG management Board as well as one of this year’s lecturers.
On Thursday morning we again followed two separate streams before lunch. Afterwards 2 more hours were allocated to project work and the formal teaching proceedings were brought to a close with a talk at 4.30pm. In the evening the whole summer school enjoyed a formal dinner which was also attended by ICG President, Prof Peng Shou. During this event Prof R Beerkens was presented with a gift in recognition of his enormous contribution to the work of ICG over many years. He retires from his current position at Celsian at the end of July to take a well deserved 3 month holiday. The publication of the book ‘Making Glass Better, 2nd Edition’ was also announced and the efforts of the three editors, Dr Bange, Prof Duran and Prof J Parker, in achieving publication over such a short time scale were recognised by the ICG President. A case of these books had been sent separately to Montpellier and each lecturer received a personal copy.
Friday morning gave the students the opportunity to present their projects. Altogether 10 projects were undertaken and each was given a 15 minute slot to present their conclusions. As in previous years the standards set were very high from the start and the judges had a difficult task to select the best 3 presentations. First prize was given to a very well thought out and humorous presentation on the topic ‘Manufacturers of plastics argue that glass containers contaminate their contents. Defend the use of glass’. Second prize was awarded to those faced with the question of whether a non-bridging oxygen moves with a diffusing modifier atom. This was a particularly difficult topic and even stimulated a deep discussion amongst the lecturers over coffee – an example of one of the benefits of the summer school for the teaching staff. Finally third prize went to a group whose topic was: ‘Changes to Pollution legislation require you to use less sodium sulphate in your batch. What corresponding changes might you have to make?’ One plank in their argument was the need sometimes to stand up to the dictats of the legislators. As a special prize, each of the winning group was given a copy of the Making Glass Better text book.
We would like to acknowledge the contributions of our speakers who give of their time freely as part of their commitment to the ideals of ICG. The local arrangements for the Summer school were made by M Boscus, B Hehlen and R Vacher. The scientific programme was arranged by a core group of lecturers: K Bange, B Hehlen, R Conradt, J Deubener, J Parker and R Vacher. The Glass melting stream was put together by R Beerkens. Additional Lecturers are invited each year according to the themes chosen and this year we would like to thank the following for their valuable contributions: M-H Chopinet, L Cormier, A Duran, A Lankhorst, H Mueller-Simon, E Muijsenberg, S Oktik and A Takada.
During the meeting the lecturers analysed the event and concluded that once again it had been a success. This was backed up by the end-of-course questionnaires completed by the participants. Consequently a date was set for the 7th Summer School, which will run from 6-10th July 2015.