Science: Where can it take you?

The fourth Xperimania chat in collaboration with inGenious dealt with the topic and film “Science: where can it take you?” and took place on Tuesday 29 May 2013 from 14:00 till 15:30 o’clock (CEST). The film was created as an initiative by EPCA (European Petrochemical Association) in order to motivate students to go for careers in science. During one and a half hours, students had the opportunity to ask questions, which they prepared with their teachers in advance, to three experts: Wouter Bleukx (INEOS CHLORVINYLS), Ana Montenegro (REPSOL) and Toon Bruining (INTERBULK).

15 schools from all over Europe connected online to join the live online chat: Belgium (1), Croatia (1), Estonia (5), Germany (1), Israel (2), Malta (1), Portugal (1), Romania (2) and Turkey (1).


This chat was very interesting, as the questions of the students were both of scientific nature and career oriented. Students from Germany wanted to know what skills were expected from them should they want to work in the chemical industry. Wouter Bleukx said that “it depends a little bit on the job. If you are in a technical research job, you need to be very focused, very precise and eager to learn [...] by reading the new literature. But if you are more in a commercial or in the technical/commercial environment you need to talk a lot to customers, be able to present and listen to your customers in order to understand their requirements. So it is not only the background, but also the competences that are important”. Ana Montenegro added to that: “I think curiosity is also an important skill”. Drive, motivation, multi-lingual, a go-for-it mentality, ambition, creativity and flexibility were the main keywords that, according to the experts, are important for the students.

Croatian students wanted to know what is the impact of a scientific job on the personal life. In answer to this question, all the experts agreed that the balance between work and family is very important and can be reached with a science career. Mr. Bleukx stated: “I think as long as you decide as a family what the best is for you and the family, then you can find a really challenging job and still have a very good family work balance.” Mrs. Montenegro said “It is not how often you are with your family, but it is the quality of the time you stay with them that counts.”

Another question focused more on the characteristics that our experts look at when recruiting people for their team. The three experts agreed that for them not only the type of studies and the succeeding is important, but extra-curricular activities, hobbies, voluntary work and student jobs are as important as they define the character of the person.

A more science related question came from Belgian students who asked: What will happen when the reserves of oil will be exhausted? According to Ana Montenegro there must be different ways to create fuel, as this is the power of science. Thus, she does not worry about exhausted oil reserves. Toon Bruining answered this question from the logistics perspective. “If you look at the transport company, 25-40% of its cost is related to fuel consumption, so for the logistics industry it is also very important to reduce the consumption of fuel. We do that in various ways: One way is to look at innovation, have a look at the ergonomics of trucks, spoilers of trucks to reduce the consumption of fuel. Another way to look at this is to develop new engines. Today we have Euro 6 engines which consume 10% less than before, so this is also an area where we need science to create these kinds of applications. [...] So there is also a lot of research and innovation in our area to reduce the fuel consumption”.

During this chat, the experts managed to answer all the questions and additionally they addressed a few motivational words and good advice to the students. Mr. Bleukx stated: “First of all you need to listen to yourself and do something that you really like. If you do something that you don’t like you will not work for a long time and we all need to have long careers and work longer and longer. It is not good for people to do something that they don’t like and at 40 years old they are completely burned out because it is all too much. There is a lot of pressure, but as long as you study what you really like then you can have a very long career. Just listen to yourself, follow your heart and talk to the people that you like about your career. If you do this, then I think you can only have a very bright future.”
The whole chat can be re-heard here. Please join the Xperimania Facebook page and tweet about it on Twitter and don’t stop investigating where science can take you.

Last but not least, please don’t forget that this chat is also linked to a mini-competition. This time the competition will be for teachers and for students. Teachers are invited to submit a lesson plan using the video "Science: where can it take you?" to show how the video could be used in the classroom. Students are invited to submit a few slides or an essay to explain why / why not they would like to be a Scientist in the future and what they expect from a career in Science.

The winning students will receive Amazon vouchers and the teachers can win Amazon vouchers as well as a trip to the inGenious Summer School, taking place in Barcelona in August 23-25. Don’t miss the chance!

More information about the competition can be found here.