Exciting research and bursary opportunities for postgraduate chemical engineers
The Paper Manufacturers Association of South Africa (PAMSA) is calling for applications from post-graduate chemical engineering students for its Master of Science (MSc) study programme which facilitates bursaries and scholarships for eligible applicants.
“The pulp, paper and packaging industry is brimming with opportunity, especially in the areas of research into green and sustainable energy technologies, innovative processes and how we can explore the potential of one of our world’s most natural and renewable resources – the tree,” says Mike Nash, head of PAMSA’s Process Research Unit.
Successful candidates will gain advanced skills during their post-graduate training in fields such as wood science, chemical analysis, separation techniques and material and energy balances. Not only will they have access to an industrial mentor during their studies, but they will be placed in an engineer-in-training programme at one of PAMSA’s member companies.
Dirk Postma completed his MSc at the University of Stellenbosch’s Department of Process Engineering, focusing on the modification of hemicelluloses using chemical and physical methods for use in the pulp and paper industry.
“PAMSA and SAPPI opened my eyes to the interesting world of the pulp and paper and offered me a great opportunity to learn from people who have had decades of experience in the industry,” he says.
Stephen Swart, who completed his MSc in chemical engineering through the University of Pretoria, obtained valuable experience in both the research and industrial environment as his MSc project involved the design, construction and commissioning of a novel system for the production of a renewable liquid fuel at the University of Pretoria. This project is a collaborative effort between the university and the United States Department of Agriculture which has the potential of becoming a commercial operation.
“I was given the opportunity to attend and present my work at several conferences in South Africa and around the world,” says Swart.
Applications are welcome from post-graduate chemical engineering students who meet the following requirements:
- BScEng (chemical engineering) candidates interested in enrolling for MScEng studies in fields that satisfy the aims of the pulp, paper and packaging industry.
- A good academic record with a minimum 60% average in the final year of study.
- Applicants must have completed their studies in five years or less.
- Candidates should indicate their areas of interest. For example, energy efficiency, renewable energy and biopolymers.
“The unit, which has formed partnerships with the universities of Stellenbosch, Pretoria and KwaZulu-Natal, is focused on developing some fundamental research thrusts to further unlock the potential of paper in all its forms,” adds Nash.
These will most likely be in areas that will ‘unlock’ the potential of the biomass used as a feedstock as well as developing new and innovative final products to the consumer. These relate particlularly to the development of cellulose into new disciplines or products, including bio-plastics, nano products and smart packaging.
PAMSA’s Process Research Unit was formed to develop, manage and expand a regional research initiative and further support, promote and improve the sustainability of the local pulp, paper and packaging industry.
Apart from its bursary programme, the unit coordinates research for the development of processes to efficiently utilise biomass feedstock (trees) for conversion to bio-products (paper and chemicals) and energy with minimal environmental impact and seeks to develop academic/research centres of excellence, both locally and abroad. It also engages in collaborative partnerships with industry and government agencies.
“We plan to expand our reach to other South African institutions, depending on the field of study being followed and the institution’s expertise in that field. We also plan to include overseas institutions into the mix,” explains Nash.
Applications – which should include a full CV and a motivation letter – can be directed to:
Tel: +27 (0) 11 803 5063
Fax: +27 (0) 11 803 6708