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PHD-student Ramiro Marroquin Garcia feels home in Limburg

Ramiro Marroquin Garcia was part of the first class of students to enroll in the two-year master’s program in Biobased Materials. After graduating, he landed a spot as a researcher at the Aachen-Maastricht Institute for Biobased Materials (AMIBM) at the Brightlands Chemelot Campus in Geleen in 2018. “The chemistry between education and business is unique here. You feel the sense of urgency, the drive to discover new bio-based materials.”

A recent newlywed at the time, Ramiro Marroquin Garcia moved to Maastricht in 2016 to start the brand-new master’s program in Biobased Materials. “It was a conscious choice,” says the now 26-year-old who was born and raised in Mexico and educated as a chemical materials engineer. “We were both looking for a broad master’s degree program with a diverse curriculum, focused on biomaterials. There weren’t that many options. To become eligible for a scholarship from the Mexican government, we had to enroll in a fairly new program. So, Maastricht it was.”

  “In a word, the master’s program is fantastic. Maastricht University has the most advanced facilities and labs here, and the location offers the opportunity to meet entrepreneurs, students from all corners of the world, and enthusiastic professors and supervisors.

Fantastic

The young couple moved to Southern Limburg. Ramiro was able to start immediately, but his wife, also a chemical engineer, had to wait a year for her funding to come through and enrolled one year later. “We haven’t had any regrets,” Ramiro tells us from the labs at the campus where for two years, his research has focused on plant-based materials and building blocks. “In a word, the master’s program is fantastic. Maastricht University has the most advanced facilities and labs here, and the location offers the opportunity to meet entrepreneurs, students from all corners of the world, and enthusiastic professors and supervisors. The setting is very professional with factories and pilot plants just around the corner. It’s all very inspiring.”

Challenges

Ramiro didn’t have any problems adjusting to the system of problem-based learning. “On the contrary, in fact; it exceeded my expectations. You learn how to work with others, present ideas and be active. Essentially, there’s nowhere to hide. It’s demanding, but in a mixed group with over ten different nationalities, you tend to challenge each other. Entrepreneurs and people already working in the field are brought in and during the master’s program you already start looking for new materials, innovations and sustainable solutions.”
Maastricht University isn’t really considered to be a scientific university. Ramiro finds this a bit strange. “Here in Geleen there is a sole focus on biology, chemistry, mathematics and process technology. A while back, we took part in a bio-based materials contest with other universities, and won! This is a scientific environment surrounded by companies active in the professional field. Where else would you find this situation?”

AMIBM

Immediately after graduating, Ramiro Marroquin Garcia was offered a job as a researcher at AMIBM. “I also had the option of going to Switzerland, but I didn’t have to think about it too long. I started a four-year project together with around 20 other researchers. Most of our work involves high-performance materials, bio-based of course. The lines to the companies and knowledge workers at and around the Campus are short. Something else that really appeals to me are the networking and other events held at the Center Court. Everything revolves around new materials and sustainability here. I’m really happy to be a part of this ecosystem. Ultimately, we’re all working on a better world.”

Opportunities

The couple from Mexico can’t complain when it comes to their social life. “Definitely. We love where we live in Maastricht. Sure, it’s a small city, but it’s very welcoming, and easy to get around. My wife started learning Dutch and she’s ’s looking for a PhD position or a job. I think there are plenty of opportunities; everything moves so fast here.”

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