Piotr Sokolinski wins European Placement Prize

February 19, 2024

Piotr Sokolinski, a Bachelor student at the University of Cambridge, was awarded with the European Placement Prize for his internship at the Max-Planck-Institut für Eisenforschung (MPIE). The award honours the best student who has passed a research internship at a materials science institution outside of the United Kingdom. Sokolinski stayed at MPIE in summer 2023, supervised by the MPIE-researchers Dr. Vivek Devulapalli and Dr. Frank Stein. He studies Natural Sciences  and is going to focus on Materials Science in his third study year.

“Frank and Vivek ensured that I felt incredibly welcome right from the beginning of my research stay. I was given the opportunity to immediately start my own small project where, contrary to my previous experiences, the outcome was not determined from the start”, says Sokolinski. He investigated mechanical properties and mechanisms of hydrogen embrittlement of equiatomic CoCrFeNi alloys for applications relevant to a hydrogen economy.

Beyond the scientific insights, Sokolinski had the chance to explore the parks and old town of Düsseldorf and visit German cities like Berlin, Hamburg and Cologne. In Düsseldorf, he was invited by Devulapalli to go to the Rheinkirmes, a big funfair in Düsseldorf: “The whole MPIE community and especially Vivek made me feel so welcome over the summer and made this a very special stay.  I have made many friendships and I look forward to meeting everyone again wherever we end up in the future.  At the end of my stay, I presented my project during a weekly seminar. Initially I was very nervous, speaking as a bachelor student to a room full of professors and doctors. Nevertheless, I was quickly reassured by the smiles and approving nods of the people who had helped me and treated me as an equal colleague over the last couple of months. I realized that the friendliness and helpfulness that initially drew me to the materials science department at the University of Cambridge were, in fact, qualities of the wider materials science community.”

The internship was organized through the University of Cambridge’s “Summer Vacation Placement” program, which is supported by the “Armourers and Brasiers” Company, at several research institutes throughout continental Europe. At the end of the program, students submit three reports about their stay and one is chosen for the Placement Prize. The prize is endowed with £250 and awarded depending on the quality of the reports and success of the placement. 

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