WACKER maintains close ties to universities throughout the world. Our researchers are frequently invited to give presentations and guest lectures at universities. Similarly, university groups visit our sites for a glimpse of work at an industrial corporation. WACKER offers students plant jobs and internships, as well as opportunities to write doctoral theses and papers for bachelor’s and other degree programs.
WACKER has traditionally maintained a close relationship with the Technical University of Munich (TUM). This collaboration led, in 2008, to the setting up of the Institute of Silicon Chemistry in Garching (near Munich) – a pioneering example of practical support for the next generation of scientists. Over the past six years, we have supported this interdisciplinary silicon institute and the WACKER Chair at the TUM with funding of €6 million. 16 students receiving WACKER grants completed their dissertations during the period under review, and 10 new grant recipients have begun theirs. So far, WACKER has gained three highly qualified graduates as employees.
WACKER’s support of young scientific talent extends beyond its collaboration with the Technical University of Munich. In 2012, for instance, we commissioned research papers and theses from 31 students at 19 universities around the world (2011: 66 students at 33 universities). In China, the period under review saw WACKER awarding scholarships totaling some RMB 200,000 (€25,000) to students from five neighboring universities.
WACKER will launch production of polysilicon at its new Charleston (Tennessee) site in the USA in 2015. The company plans to have hired 500 new production employees by then. In order to be able to recruit this number of qualified workers, we founded a joint training center with the local Chattanooga State Community College. The WACKER INSTITUTE will train mechanical systems technicians, electronics and instrumentation systems technicians, process technicians (chemical operators), and chemical laboratory technicians (see chapter Employees). WACKER made $150,000 available to the nearby Cleveland State Community College in order to encourage study programs in the natural sciences and technology.
Since 2008, WACKER’s Burghausen site has held summer courses for process-engineering and chemical-engineering students. Through plant tours and lectures, the courses offer engineers insights into work at a chemical company. In total, 74 students have already taken part in WACKER summer courses. Eight graduates of the courses now work at WACKER.
In 2011, WACKER presented the €10,000 WACKER Silicone Award to Prof. Matthias Drieß. The company thus honored the professor of Organometallic and Inorganic Chemistry at the TU Berlin (Technical University of Berlin) for his pioneering work on low-valence silicon compounds. Owing to their isolability and reactivity properties, these compounds constitute promising building blocks that can be used to produce catalysts which do not contain precious metals, for example. We present the WACKER Silicone Award, one of the world’s most significant honors in the field of silicon chemistry, every two years.