International Affairs

Strategic Partnership between KIT and the Argentinian Universidad Nacional de San Martín

Alejandro Zamponi, UNSAMAlejandro Zamponi, UNSAM
Universidad Nacional de San Martín
Bild Pierre Auger Observatorium
Pierre Auger Observatory
from left to right: V. Pattachini, C. Frasch, J. Blümer, C. Greco, T. Hirth, I. Bohnet, A. Etchegoyen, A. Gattone, I.Mantilla

The Pierre-Auger-Observatory in Malargüe (Mendoza Province, Argentina) has been a flagship project in astroparticle physics for more than 20 years. Here, scientists from 17 countries work together to explore the secrets of high-energy cosmic rays. KIT plays a major role in the 3,000 square kilometer detector system that detects ultra-high energy cosmic rays in order to understand their nature, origin, and diffusion over millions of light years..

In the framework of the Pierre Auger project, a sustainable scientific collaboration between KIT and the  Universidad Nacional de San Martín (UNSAM) in Buenos Aires has been established. From the very successful Double Doctoral degree in Astrophysics (DDAp) between KIT and UNSAM running since 2014, the idea of a Strategic Partnership UNSAM-KIT (SPUK) emerged in 2018. The goal of this partnership is to further expand the research collaboration beyond astroparticle physics to various joint research fields, such as sensor and detector technology, theoretical particle and solid state physics/quantum materials, nanotechnology, geosciences, biomaterials, nuclear safety, energy, urban planning, and citizen science. For that reason, a KIT fact finding mission to UNSAM, Buenos Aires took place in November 2018, involving researchers from different institutes as well as KIT department heads and deans to get to know their counterparts at UNSAM and to explore cooperation potentials. From 13 initial project ideas, 18 preparatory projects on these different research fields have been initiated in the meantime, which are supported by the KIT Strategy Fund.

A binational center including a KIT office in Buenos Aires is to act as a strategic hub, linking scientific activities between KIT and all of Latin America. In addition to the already existing Double Doctoral degree program in Astrophysics (DDAp), there has been another program with UNSAM since 2020, namely the Double Doctoral degree in Electrical Engineering and Information Technology (DDEIT). 

The KIT strategy fund is intended to give the partners a boost until the end of 2022 to deepen their initial contacts and create structures so that the projects in SPUK can jointly generate further third-party funding after a start-up phase from around 2023.

The initiative goes back to Prof. Dr. Johannes Blümer (former Head of Division V) and has been continued by the Head of Division V since his retirement in October 2020.

Marie-Christine Mundt (Division V)
Pascale Kohler (INTL)
Irma Mantilla (INTL)

SPUK is funded through the KIT Strategy Fund. The Executive Board Strategy Fund supports projects at an early stage for which funding is not yet available from other sources. The maximum funding amount is up to 2.5 million euros per individual measure. In this way, the Executive Board would like to promote the strategic development of KIT and set new accents in research, teaching, and innovation. Selection criteria for approval are the importance of the strategic orientation and further development of KIT and the scientific quality. The projects are funded for a limited period of time. Personnel, material, and investment funds can be provided. Applications can be submitted to Strategic Corporate Development and Communications (SEK) via the division heads or the Executive Board. As a rule, the Executive Board decides on funding twice a year.