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#TPRCminds: Vanessa

PhD Researcher

“The TPRC provided me a home”

Vanessa travelled from Italy to Twente to research thermoplastic composites at the TPRC. This area of expertise appeals to Vanessa because her work can directly be applied to industry as well as it having an impact on society and the climate. Twente and the TPRC offered not only a challenge but also a home.

Read other #TPRCminds interviews with Jeroen (Research Engineer), Wouter (Assistant Professor), Yannick (PhD Researcher), Ramona (PhD Researcher), Sebastiaan (AniForm), Jagadeesh (PhD Researcher), Emiel (Research Engineer), and Dennis & Rens (PhD Researchers).

Italian roots
Vanessa is Italian and she currently lives in Twente. She is here on a mission to get her PhD. Vanessa was born in a small town in the south-east of Italy, in the region of Puglia. Her hobbies are gymnastics and ballet, and recently she joined a pole fitness group at the University of Twente. “By chance, I tried it, and it is a mix of gymnastics, dance and strength, I really enjoyed it”. How did she end up in Twente? Vanessa got a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering and a master’s degree in Materials Engineering in Italy. After that, Vanessa wanted a more challenging experience abroad. She began looking for the ideal place for her to specialize even further in the field of materials science.

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A dream come true
Vanessa came to the Netherlands, and in particular Twente. For her master’s thesis, she did research at the aerospace company GKN Fokker in Hoogeveen. After completing her master’s, she wanted to find a new challenge in the Netherlands, because she really enjoyed her experience at GKN Fokker. That's how Vanessa ended up in Twente. She wanted to learn even more about thermoplastic composites.

"The University of Twente, together with the TPRC, gave me the opportunity to do a PhD in the field of thermoplastic composites.” It was a dream come true for Vanessa. The TPRC not only offers her the perfect place to further her knowledge, but it also provides her with a home, as many of her colleagues at the research center are also international. “We are an international group. The team consists of Dutch employees, but there are also employees and students from Italy, France, Germany, Indonesia and India. We all live in and around Twente.” Together they built a community who do all sorts of activities and sports together. “The people we work with are quite open-minded, and we all hang out together. I feel at home, because of the positive atmosphere there”.

Great opportunity
Vanessa was excited she got the chance to work in Twente. “The TPRC is a great place to do a PhD because we can combine academic research with actual industrial application.” The University of Twente is unique in its capability to create a connection between academic research and industry. It provides a platform so that researchers can directly impact society. The TPRC as a research center is much more than a typical academic institution. Moreover, they partner with other industrial companies from all over the world. Therefore, through the TPRC, Vanessa is in touch with important and relevant players in the field of thermoplastic composites.

Sustainability in the aerospace industry
Why is research in thermoplastic composites so important to Vanessa? Aircraft parts made of composites are an appealing solution to reduce fuel consumption and harmful gas emissions. At this point, it is challenging to use only composites to fabricate aircraft components. They need to be combined with metals.

“I liked this subject because this is such a challenging field and there is much room for research on thermoplastic composites. Thermoplastic composites are also recyclable. Theoretically, there is no scrap after the production or at the end of the usage of a certain component. If we also improve the way we use thermoplastic composites, through, for example, recycling, it will have positive effects on our environment. Apart from these advantages.” Vanessa likes working in this field because her academic curiosity drives her to make new discoveries.

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At home in Twente
Did Vanessa fall in love with Twente? “When I came here, I needed some time to adapt to a new environment. I come from the south of Italy. For me, the good weather, the nice temperature and the food were always important. But it turned out that it’s an excellent experience for me here in Twente. It is a nice place to stay”. The very green environment, the ability to practice sports outside, and cycling to work are what she enjoys the most. Apart from her work at the TPRC of course. Furthermore, the University of Twente also offers a welcoming environment. “The climate at the campus of the University of Twente is very nice, young, and dynamic. It has good sports facilities. I found a new equilibrium, so I am enjoying my experience here. I want to stay in this area, in the field of composites and the Netherlands. Especially Twente offers great opportunities.”

#TPRCminds

Our series #TPRCminds introduces you to the people behind our success. Who are they? What is their background? What drives them and what do they dream about? How do they look at the future of thermoplastic composites?


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Learn more about our research roadmap

The roadmap is aimed at generating the fundamental knowledge that supports the design of thermoplastic composite structures, the optimization of existing and new manufacturing processes, and the development of sustainable process chains. The TPRC performs specific, exclusive research for members and non-members, in addition to the roadmap. The activities may range from short-term engineering work, training and consultancy to longer research projects. Are you interested in innovating with us?