This International Conference on Advances in Glass Science and Technology (ICAGST-2017) was conceived by Dr Ranjan Sen, Chief Scientist and Head of the Glass Division and Fiber Optics and Photonics Division at the prestigious CSIR-Central Glass and Ceramic Research Institute (CGCRI) in Kolkata, West Bengal, India. The involvement of ICG had its origins in discussions between the ICG president, Dr M Choudhary and Dr Sen, during the ICG triennial Congress in Shanghai in April 2016. Consequently both a meeting of ICG's Steering Committee and a 3 day tutorial session were organised, with the latter following the pattern of ICG's Summer and Winter Schools (in France and China), alongside the planned conference. This was the first time that such a tutorial in association with the ICG was held in India and both it and the conference received enthusiastic support and guidance from Dr. K. Muraleedharan, Director of CSIR-CGCRI, and from the following patrons: Dr. V. K. Saraswat; Member, of National Institution for Transforming India Aayog, Government of India. Dr. Girish Sahni, Director General, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and Secretary, DSIR. Dr. S. Christopher, Director General, Defence Research & Development Organization.
The CSIR-Central Glass & Ceramic Research Institute (CGCRI), the host institution, was established in 1950 at Calcutta (now Kolkata) under the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). It was the fourth in a chain of national laboratories that spanned the length and breadth of India. The Institute is a premier Research and Development (R&D) organization that pursues technology-driven, socially- oriented R&D activities in the key areas of health care, sanitation, environment, water, energy, information & communication, infrastructure and rural development aligned with national missions. CSIR-CGCRI is dedicated to harnessing, and enhancing, capabilities in the field of specialty glasses & optical fibers, advanced ceramics including ceramic-membranes, sensors, fuel-cells & battery, engineering ceramics (both oxides and non-oxides), novel refractories and allied materials for the industrial and economic development of the country. The development of optical fibers in the country was pioneered by CSIR-CGCRI. In addition, the Institute provides excellent Testing, Certification and Quality assurance services to Industry.
So on a pleasantly warm and sunny winter's day on the 19th January 2017, 26 students from 11 different institutions in India and just slightly fewer academics gathered at the beginning of this unique event, including several of ICG's core team of lecturers. The main administration had been undertaken locally and the teaching programme was significantly supplemented by local academics. The goal was to explain the scientific concepts underpinning Glass Melting, Glass Properties and Structure, and Applications, for the benefit of new researchers.
The Tutorial opened with a formal welcome by members of CGCRI and representatives of ICG. The main proceedings began with talks from Profs Duran, Pascual and Conradt and Drs Annapurna and Takada. Each presentation was limited to 40 minutes so that at least 5 minutes were available for questions. The students themselves were expected to contribute to these discussions. During the afternoon all the students present were asked to introduce themselves, giving a short presentation of their research interests. This allowed each to find their voice in front of an audience that may have seemed intimidating, and to introduce themselves and their interests to each other and the staff. It also provided a basis for defining suitable projects and group allocation. The day ended with an inspirational talk entitled Quantum Transformation by a professional personal skills coach, Ms Subbarwal Preeti.
The second day started at 9.30am with more academic presentations. Just before the morning refreshment break, projects were allocated so that groups could start discussions. Presentations from Professors Inoue, Pascual, Conradt, Parker, Rodrigues, and Brauer were given on subjects ranging from chemical durability to containerless melting and from electrical properties to bioactivity. During the afternoon a 2h time slot was provided for work on the project in a computer room. The atmosphere in the room was tense as the students set about unravelling key issues that they needed to address. Project preparation overran and delayed the start of an excellent social event by a local band.
A similar pattern continued on Saturday with several local speakers during the morning. The emphasis shifted towards applications such as architectural glass but supplemented by talks on EPR and Heat Transfer. The lecturers included Profs Rao and Ghosh, Dr Choudhary of Owens Corning and president of ICG, and Mr Deepak. The afternoon was mostly spent on the student's project reports in an atmosphere of growing excitement as the 5 groups tussled to receive the accolade of first place. Decision making took some time and in the final event 2 teams were awarded joint first place, in an atmosphere of great excitement and much applause. The winning groups examined two very different topics namely: 1) Propose a method of storing data in a 3D array in a glass matrix. How much information can be stored per unit volume? Consider the stability of the data storage over time, and 2) Can you think of novel glassy products made from inorganic waste, other than ceramic tiles. The members of these groups were: 1) Gaurav Gupta, Shivani Singla, Sandeep Kaur, Swapna Koneru, Nisha Deopa and Nilotpal Choudhury; 2) Venkateswaran, C., Karthik Raj S., Damandeep Kaur, Aarti Jadav and Avik Halder.
A questionnaire answered by the students showed a high level of appreciation of the event. Two typical comments were ‘Course content was excellent, faculty-student interaction was very friendly' and ‘very much enjoyed project work'. At the same time several suggestions on ways to enhance the learning experience were presented.
As a link between the tutorial and main conference a tour of local highlights such as the Victoria Memorial Hall, the bank of the river Ganges and the Cathedral of St Peter followed on the Sunday.
The main ICAGST-2017 conference ran from 23-25th January. The aim was to bring together eminent international experts to deliberate on innovative, cutting-edge topics in the field of speciality glass highlighting recent technical advances. Some of the leading industries in the field were expected to share their vision on futuristic technologies and applications. The conference goal was to promote a thorough exchange of ideas, knowledge and experience among researchers, students, scientists, academicians, engineers and industrialists around the globe to delineate future issues and challenges. A number of local sponsors: Ministry of Defence (DRDO), BRNS, DST, INSA, St Gobain, La Opala, HNG, Gujarat Guardian: and technical associates: AIGMF and the Glazing Society of India (GSI) facilitated the running of the event.
The main conference programme started with an excellent keynote lecture from Prof Arun Varshneya on advances in the chemical strengthening of glass. The remainder of the event included 2 plenary lectures and 20 invited presentations, all of which gave the presenters plenty of time to develop their subjects. These were supplemented by 16 shorter oral presentations. The event was sub-divided under the following sessions: Glass for Energy and Environment, Glasses for Biomedical Applications, Architectural Glass, Glasses for Photonic Applications, Multifunctional Glass and Glass-ceramics, Manufacturing and Processing of Glass, Structure and Properties of Glass. Only on the first afternoon, two sessions ran in parallel. In addition, there were 60 posters in groupings on the second day that mirrored the main conference themes. The event ended on third day evening with a formal closing ceremony with Manoj Chaudhary and Fabio Nicoletti representing the ICG. During this ceremony best poster awards were presented, after selection by a mixed ICG-Indian team.
The first evening was taken up by an excellent buffet dinner on a cruise of the Ganges and was followed by dancing where the students were able to demonstrate their moves using a mixture of Western with Indian styles. The second evening also included a dinner and a cultural programme, with a presentation of songs and dances based on compositions of the Nobel laureate Tagore as its highlight.
We thank Dr. Sen and his colleagues for their warm and generous hospitality and very successful tutorial and conference.