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Mining University PhD Students Undergo Internships at German and Spanish Universities

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© Форпост Северо-Запад

This was made possible by the DAAD and Erasmus+ International Programs.

In any story in which the coronavirus becomes the main character, there is a weighty “but”. What seemed impossible a year ago is now happening quickly, albeit rather painfully. A three-hour flight to Berlin, the same amount by train to Dresden, then halfway across Saxony by train to Freiberg, and, as the cherry on the cake, quarantine for five days. All this for the opportunity to do an internship at the Freiberg Mining Academy.

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© предоставлено Марией Вильнер

For the students of Russia's oldest technical school, it was in a mixed format, for three months they did scientific work remotely in the homeland and only then went to the Federal Republic of Germany. This option, admits graduate student Maria Willner, was a stroke of luck.

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© предоставлено Марией Вильнер

“In June in Germany, everything was closed and it was impossible to go anywhere without a PCR test, and it was quite expensive there. Then they introduced the Schnelltest rapid test system, which was given out for free at the university. The test allowed us to go to convenience stores, and the catering establishments only had summer terraces. The cafes themselves opened already in July. It so happened that in the middle of summer Russia was in the red zone again and those scholarship holders who had not managed to leave before that time did not get to Germany at all,” said postgraduate student Maria Willner of Mining University.

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© предоставлено Марией Вильнер

Three months of internship in the full-time format allowed her to conduct research in the framework of writing a dissertation on “Geomechanical prediction of the formation of loads on the support of the conjugations of mine workings in structurally disturbed rock massifs”.

“Modern approaches to stability prediction, which are adopted in normative documents, are no longer sufficient in complex mining and geological conditions. And this is the key to the safety of mining operations in the operation of deposits. For mines in Russia and Germany is often needed more accurate, for example, a numerical method that allows simulating the rock mass in the framework of continuum mechanics and discrete medium. Continuum mechanics is a simple method, but in fractured massifs, a more accurate prediction is needed. The work in 3DEC as part of the internship has provided new knowledge and the simulation of several options for the conjugation of mine workings that meet the real-world conditions. In the future, I plan to continue my scientific experiments at the University of Mining, which also has good research facilities. In Russia the work is relevant for mining enterprises where the development is gradually moving to greater depths,” Maria said.

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© предоставлено Марией Вильнер

In Spain, however, the situation with the coronavirus was somewhat different. To enter the country, recalls Valeria Elder, a postgraduate student at Mining University, one had to obtain a national student visa. It was issued by the university in Madrid:

“To get to Spain you need an invitation, a PCR test, a visa. We also got a health certificate, which is QR code, which was issued by the Spanish government. There was no quarantine, there were restrictions in the city and curfew. But it didn't affect our studies. There were still rules that didn’t allow more than four people in a classroom. But we were given separate classrooms.”

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© предоставлено Валерией Старшовой

The topic of her dissertation is “Development of an electrical complex powered by a photovoltaic unit to reduce the concentration of paraffin deposits in oil”. This research will reduce the level of paraffin in oil, the excess of which leads to high energy costs during the processing and transportation of raw materials, as it becomes more viscous.

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© предоставлено Валерией Старшовой

During the training, we did a lot of experiments. For example, together with Professor Miguel Jiménez Carisossa, we fully assembled an electrical system and simulated the whole process aimed at reducing the concentration of paraffin deposits. I have seen in practice that they do melt, which solves the problem and reduces the concentration of the substance in the oil. The technology can be used in the Russian fields by offering the methodology to interested companies. Such internships are essential, of course, because they help improve the competence level of undergraduate and graduate students. I learned a lot and am now ready to apply the knowledge and skills acquired abroad in the laboratories of Mining University,” said Valeria.

In her turn, she told her Spanish colleagues about the possibilities offered by the University's Digital Technology Center, familiarized them with the current areas of scientific research at the university, and read a report on mining and raw materials in Russia. In the future, she plans to defend a double degree, which can be obtained, among other things, thanks to an Erasmus+ internship.

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© предоставлено Валерией Старшовой

Let us remind that for five years already the students of Mining University, in the framework of this program, get acquainted with the methods of teaching and approaches to scientific research in the universities of Germany, Austria, Poland, France, and Finland. Among the partners of the St. Petersburg university are the Mining University of Leoben, the Polytechnic University of Madrid, the Tallinn University of Technology, the Georg Agricola Higher Technical School, the Mining Academy of Krakow, and other higher educational institutions.