The Department of Metallurgy and Materials Engineering within the Faculty of Engineering has officially launched their new state-of-the-art laboratories on 26 September 2022. These laboratories will be used for Advanced Materials research led by the Department.
This newly developed space includes in excess of 1000m2 of work area across a number of dedicated specialised laboratories. A number of new instruments, including three coating and materials heat treatment rigs have already been installed at the new site. The laboratories will house several characterisation tools which are currently running in older quarters or have recently been procured. Researchers will be able to carry out high resolution surface studies through atomic force and electron microscopy, advanced spectroscopic techniques such as RAMAN spectroscopy and spectrophotometry, and crystal textural investigations using X-ray diffraction and electron backscatter diffraction techniques. Furthermore, bulk materials engineering tests such impact, bending fatigue and tensile testing rigs will be installed.
“With this new infrastructure and the range of equipment within the University will serve to support materials engineering research, strength collaboration between academics working in associated fields and industrial partners. We aim to continue to foster excellent relationships with the local manufacturing and engineering servicing sector by providing partnership, unique technological resources and expertise; supporting and encouraging R&D at high technology readiness levels.” said Prof Ing. Glenn Cassar.
A substantial part of this project forms part of 'TRAKE' (Transdisciplinary Research and Knowledge Exchange Centre) which is funded through the European Regional Development Fund 2014-2020 (ERDF.01.124) that will help in strengthening the ongoing engineering related research in Malta, especially on the thematic areas of high value added manufacturing, health, resource efficiency and transport, all of which form part of the country’s smart specialisation strategy. The overall project has a budget of €38million, with an investment of approximately €9.5 million dedicated to the materials labs which have been inaugurated.
“This project has allowed a rejuvenation of the engineering facilities at the University of Malta, being especially crucial to keep abreast with the advancement in science and technology. Today’s inauguration is a big milestone for the University as it celebrates completion of a major component of the very ambitious project. We should also be in a position to launch the rest of the new facilities shortly, allowing researchers, academics and students to continue to build on the various achievements that the Faculty has recorded over the past years.” said Prof Ing. Andrew Sammut.
“Today is historic, primarily because we are inaugurating premises that are dedicated solely to research, a first within the University of Malta and evidence that the roadmap of the University is to excel in both the education of students but also through involvement in research activities, where the boundaries of knowledge are extended.” said Prof Alfred Vella.
Minister for Education, Sports, Youth, Research, and Innovation Clifton Grima praised the investment made so far in the construction, building, and equipping the Engineering labs at the University of Malta. “The setting up of new state-of-the-art laboratories entirely dedicated to Advanced Materials Engineering Research, is in line with the Government’s policy to enhance Research and Innovation on our islands, and to provide all that is necessary for academic staff and students to better the opportunities in these fields”, said Minister Grima. He said that this first of its kind project at the University of Malta augurs well for the Faculty of Engineering and all those in the profession, including future students.