The International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience (IAESTE) is an organization for the exchange of students at higher education institutions wishing to obtain technical experience abroad. The aim of IAESTE is to provide science & engineering students with training experience abroad that is relevant to their studies and to offer Swiss employers well-qualified and motivated foreign trainees to be a source of cultural enrichment for trainees and their host employers.

The Battery Electrodes and Cells group at the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI), led by Dr. Sigita Trabesinger, has been a host for IAESTE internships since several years, providing scientific training experience to exchange students. In the 2019 within the scope of the IAESTE internship, fundamental investigation on the gassing of sodium-ion cells was defined as a project topic. The talented and motivated IAESTE student Chrysi Tsolakidou came from Greece to devote 3 month of her time to new and very challenging topic in sodium-ion batteries, under supervision of Dr. Leiting Zhang. Chrysi has fully committed to the project and made substantial progress understanding gassing processes and stability of interphases in Na-ion batteries, which even resulted in her presenting a poster within 8th SCCER Heat and Electricity Storage Symposium. The main tool for this investigation was the online electrochemical mass spectrometry (OEMS) technique, used to monitor the gas release of the cell in real time. Miss Chrysi’s main task was to learn how to make sodium-ion cells, designed specifically for operando gas analysis and how to interpret the experimental results, in order to shed light on the performance degradation mechanism in sodium batteries. 

Dr. Sigita Trabesinger underlines the win-win situation for both parties: “IAESTE Switzerland is doing great job by uniting young, curious students with research laboratories to a mutual benefit.”

Chrysi Tsolakidou from Greece describes her positive internship experience as follows: “My name is Chrysi and I have recently graduated from Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (Greece) with a Master’s in Chemical Engineering. After finishing with my studies, I was very keen on finding a new opportunity to work abroad in an international environment and gain professional experience. I got a three-month internship through IAESTE in Switzerland, at PSI and started on September. My project was a comparative research study on the Solid Electrolyte Interface (SEI) stability in both Li-ion and Na-ion batteries. Coming to the end of my internship here, I would say that this experience exceeded any of my expectations. Not only did I expand my knowledge about electrochemistry and batteries in general, but also I had the opportunity to apply this knowledge using experimental methods and new instrumentation technologies. I also learnt how to appropriately interpret and present results and I had the chance to present my work at the 8th Symposium Heat and Electricity Storage Symposium in EMPA, Zurich. Except those, my internship included a lot of travelling during weekends all around Switzerland and I made a lot of new friends (IAESTE interns) from all over the world who inspired me, shared their cultures and made me see the world from a different perspective. It was once in a lifetime experience and I would definitely recommend it to every student!”

Foto: Chrysi in the lab under the supervision of Leiting Zhang

Interested in foreign interns as well?

By employing a foreign trainee…

  • …you enlarge your international network.
  • …you strengthen the intercultural competence of your team and enrich your daily working life.
  • …you contribute to the promotion of Swiss students as young professionals, as for each internship in Switzerland, one internship abroad will be available for a Swiss student.

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David Spichiger, SCS