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Texas A&M, Texas A&M at Qatar visit NCSR Demokritos in Athens, Greece

Published Aug 06, 2014


Texas A&M's vice chancellor and dean of engineering Dr. M. Katherine Banks (second from left), Demokritos President N. Kanellopoulos (third from right) and other participants at the Texas A&M–Demokritos meeting in Athens, Greece, in July. 

Dr. M. Katherine Banks, vice chancellor and dean of engineering at Texas A&M University, recently led a delegation of faculty and administrators from Texas A&M and Texas A&M University at Qatar on a visit to the National Center for Scientific Research “Demokritos” in Athens, Greece, to discuss and coordinate collaborative education and scientific research projects.

Dr. Ioannis Economou, professor in the Chemical Engineering Program at Texas A&M at Qatar, represented the Doha campus. The delegation included Dr. Dimitris Lagoudas, senior associate dean for research, and other high-level officials from the university’s main campus in College Station. The Texas A&M group met with Dr. Nick Kanellopoulos, chairman of the board and director of Demokritos; Dr. Athanassios Stubos, vice chairman of the board, and other board members.

Banks and Kanellopoulos agreed on a new collaborative Ph.D. program that will allow students to share their time between Texas and Athens. The so-called 2+2 Program will require from students to spend the first two years of their studies in College Station; upon successful completion of their graduate course work, the students will continue their thesis research in Demokritos. This agreement will also benefit the Qatar campus, whose faculty have established collaboration with Demokritos.

Research collaboration between Texas A&M and Demokritos started in 2013 through a joint research project related to oil and gas funded by the Qatar National Research Fund and coordinated by Economou at Texas A&M at Qatar and Stubos at Demokritos. In 2014 two new three-year projects between the two institutions were approved for funding. The funding for these projects totals about $3 million.

While in Athens, Banks gave the opening lecture at the Demokritos summer school to an audience of more than 200 senior and graduate students from several universities in the Athens metropolitan area and beyond. Banks presented a talk on the structure and the activities of the Texas A&M Dwight Look College of Engineering, which consists of 13 departments, and also discussed future plans that aim to increase the number of engineering students at Texas A&M to 25,000 by 2025. Achievement of this goal will result in the largest engineering school in the United States. The expansion of the school will provide new opportunities for top students from the state of Texas, other U.S. states and from around the world. Greece has been a producer of high-quality graduate students for top U.S. universities for several decades now.

Finally, Banks and her team visited some of the major lab facilities of Demokritos and the Science and Technology Park that hosts high tech spin-off companies, as well as the National Technical University of Athens, the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and the University of Ioannina to develop collaborative activities in education and research.