Interview with NAO Student YaoTao Wang
Why did you initially apply for the NAO program?
I applied for NAO program to better understand industry demands and become a part of tomorrow’s future. I wanted to solve urgent issues of our time such as finding solutions for environmental pollution or dissipation of energy. In addition, I expected to become a permanent member of BASF. After the end of program, I can truly say that both expectations have been met and even exceeded.
What is the major value of the program? What benefits did you receive?
The major value of NAO is its link between fundamental research and business application. During my PhD time, I usually tried to solve theoretical problems, but barely understood the practical application of my finding. In contrast, NAO gave me the chance to not only publish my research achievements, but to also solve real problems and create value for society.
Furthermore, I met a lot of scientists and experts from all over the world and even made really good friends there. This network benefits me most for my future work.
The best result of all is, that I finally became an engineering researcher @ BASF. Thanks to the NAO experience, I got a prioritized interview chance and proudly succeeded.
Please tell us more about your specific NAO project.
I acquired my PhD degree in Changchun Institute of Applied Chemistry in May 2015, and joined the NAO project from November 2013 to April 2015. My NAO project was focused on controlling the macroscopic properties of PA6 via tuning micro-/nano-morphology. Engineering plastics PA6 has good mechanical property and can bear high melting temperature. Many different additives were blended in order to further optimize the property of PA6 material. This project provided rich information about the effect of additives and processing conditions on material microstructure and final properties.
How did the NAO program help you to get a job at BASF Research Campus afterwards?
I gained lots of valuable experiences to acquire the job in BASF. During NAO, I built up good relationships with employees and managers, and had a basic impression about the working culture at BASF. Moreover, I had deeper insights into industrial research. I learnt how to design a project proposal and how to set the different steps to reach the target. I believe my working ability and personal attitude convinced BASF to offer me this great position.
What else have you learnt from NAO program besides scientific expertise?
Acquiring chemistry knowledge was important, but it was not the only harvest during my NAO time. For example, we took some specific training courses to improve our presentation skills. We learned how to present the key results in a convincing way, how to express ourselves adequately and how to professionally communicate with audiences. We also participated in different teambuilding activities which helped us to better understand each other and cooperate with the partners from different backgrounds more efficiently.
How would you describe the working atmosphere at BASF?
The working atmosphere in BASF is friendly and challenging. The researchers are coming from all over the world and have interesting stories to tell. I can feel free to communicate with any of them in this big family. Discussing different topics motivates me to learn more and think problems more thoroughly and innovatively. At BASF, I feel proud to work together with the brightest and smartest engineers and chemists.
What has been the most memorable experience during your NAO time?
There are many precious memories. The most memorable experience is the NAO Family Day. All the NAO students, professors and scientists in BASF got together at Shanghai Innovation Campus. We shared and discussed the latest scientific developments. Moreover, we had the opportunity to visit the industrial plants, warehouses and laboratories. BASF also provided team building activities, such as tabu games, KTV, sightseeing trips.