“I want you to realize the importance of your work to the development of our country,” said the president of SBPMat, Professor Roberto Mendonça Faria (IFSC – USP), to about 30 undergraduate and graduate students present at the João Pessoa Convention Center to attend the first meeting of the SBPMat University Chapters Program (UCs). Held on the afternoon of September 29, 2014, the meeting was attended by representatives of already created UCs and individuals interested in being part of the program.
The UC program’s main objective is to bring together students working in the area of Materials in organized teams formally linked to SBPMat, and to support these groups to perform activities complementary to their academic education. Launched in early 2014, the program has already started drawing the map aimed at connecting groups of different and distant regions of Brazil – the 5th largest country in the world, a detail worth remembering. Up to the time of the event, four chapters had been established in the states of Minas Gerais, Piauí and São Paulo.
In charge of opening the meeting, Professor Faria said that Brazil is a country rich in raw materials, but cannot add much knowledge onto it. “However, it is the economic, social and intellectual value that raises the society’s standard of living,” he said, further noting the great impact that the area of materials, in particular, can have on the development of a nation. Finally, the president of SBPMat said that by acting in university chapters, the youth will feel more active and participatory, not only in SBPMat but in the Brazilian society as a whole.
Then, Professor Rodrigo Bianchi (UFOP), scientific director at SBPMat in charge of the UC Program, provided some examples of activities that could be undertaken by chapters: a course in scientific writing for students of Materials, a lecture by a scientist of international repute in a Brazilian university, an trainnee program with a company, visits to other program units, exchanges with members of UCs from other countries, symposia to promote scientific collaborations among the UCs … among many other initiatives.
Bianchi also commented with those present some interactions initiated with the university chapters program from materials research societies in Mexico, where the program is still in its infancy, like in Brazil, and the United States (MRS), which, 15 years after the creation of the program, has more than 80 chapters. “Several former members of university chapters are now leaders in the field of materials in the United States”, said the coordinator.
The Brazilian chapters
In the second part of the meeting, each of the SBPMat UCs was presented by the president or by a representative. Larissa Arruda, secretary of the Biomaterials UC, which brings together postgraduate students in materials from UNESP – Bauru and from the School of Dentistry at USP, both in São Paulo State, presented a very active group, which has held monthly meetings since its creation in April this year.
President of the Ouro Preto UC, Minas Gerais State, Mariane Murase highlighted the multidisciplinary composition of her group, composed of undergraduate and postgraduate students in Physics, Chemistry and Engineering. “I see the program as an opportunity to grow personally and professionally and to interact with society,” said Mariane, who expressed interest in undertaking scientific dissemination actions in schools.
Another town in Minas Gerais, Juiz de Fora, already has its SBPMat UC, chaired by Jefferson Martins. The group is interested in conducting lectures, seminars and workshops at the university. Jefferson believes that the experience of UC will mature its members and allow them to better understand how processes work within institutions.
Coming from the city of Teresina (Piauí State), Layane de Almeida said the UC she chairs, called UNICHAPI, has already held its first meeting and has a website under construction. Layane sees in the UC a chance to strengthen relations between industry and the university – a mission she considers crucial in the region she lives. Among the strengths of the program, she emphasized the autonomy students gain to undertake activities upon receiving funds directly from SBPMat.