7 September 2023

The winners of the first edition of the Contest on Engineering Theses organized by INVAP, which highlighted innovative projects of Argentine talents, were announced. The contest, which highlights the value of applied research in the engineering universe with a plurality of perspectives, distinguished works in electronic and mechanical engineering, with a strong impact on the national industry development.

In the undergraduate category, Natalia Díaz, of the Electronic Engineering School dependent on the National University of Moreno, was awarded the prize. The winners in the Doctorate and Master’s categories were Dr. Engineer Afra Fernández Zuvich and Mechanical Engineer Sebastián Calvera López. With $2.5 million pesos in prizes, the winning theses are part of INVAP’s aim to promote projects that improve the Argentines’ quality of life.

The award ceremony will take place on 25 September at the Science’s Cultural Center, C3, in the city of Buenos Aires.

Contest data:
In the context of INVAP’s 47th anniversary, 139 theses from 16 provinces were submitted in this first edition. Among the 39 institutions that sent in papers, 88% were public and 12% private. Meanwhile, 3 out of 10 participants were female authors, a percentage higher than the national average of female engineering students, which is approximately 25% according to studies conducted by organizations such as the Center for the Implementation of Public Policies for Equity and Growth (CIPPEC, in Spanish).

On the other hand, 3 out of 10 theses corresponded to Electronic Engineering, a branch of the discipline that ranked first, with a participation of 29% of final works. This was followed by Industrial Engineering and Computer Engineering, with 12%, and Chemical Engineering, with 11%.

The winning papers

Best Undergraduate Thesis
Natalia Díaz, of the Electronic Engineering School dependent on the National University of Moreno, won the award for her work “Automation of Twyman-Green NLP-TESA type interferometer.”

The thesis contributes to modernizing and improving the use of this equipment by updating the Python + QT software to add new measurement techniques, speed up the calibration process and enhance measurement accuracy. The interferometer is an optical instrument that uses the interference of light waves to measure wavelengths of the same light with great precision.

Besides, Natalia Díaz’s work develops an innovative technique with a single wavelength: an effective solution for adverse situations. This meticulously detailed work improves measurement accuracy, accelerating equipment calibration and developing new techniques. A relevant thesis of interest to the metrological and industrial community in Argentina and the world.

Best Master’s Thesis
The winning work in the Best Master’s Thesis category belongs to Sebastián Calvera López, a Mechanical Engineer of the Balseiro Institute (National University of Cuyo). “Design review, characterization and simulation of equipment for the hydrogen separation and capture process in the production of radioisotopes” is the name of the thesis that the jury found it to be “consistent and of economic relevance.” The work presents the design and use of a system for the separation and capture of hydrogen generated in the production of radioisotopes at the National Atomic Energy Commission (CNEA, in Spanish) facility, dependent on the Ezeiza Atomic Center.

By means of exhaustive and systematic experimental and simulation work, the design and application of this method is proposed. This will allow more efficient separation of the hydrogen generated from the production of molybdenum 99 from the rest of the gases and fission products. The demonstration of this system for its application allows to increase the radioisotope production capacity by saving gas storage space in production facilities, while significantly reducing instances of venting to the atmosphere. Thus, Calvera López’s contribution is of great economic and environmental relevance.

Best Doctorate Thesis
Afra Fernández Zuvich, PhD in Engineering Sciences at the Balseiro Institute, was distinguished for her thesis “Development and optimization of sol-gel synthesis and neutron modelling of combustible materials with burnable absorbers. Applications to other nuclear materials.” The development focuses on the energy transition process, where nuclear energy is essential for the diversification and/or combination of technologies with low carbon emissions. In the work of the researcher from the CNEA, nuclear fuel materials were modelled and simulated to develop an innovative and optimized process for the synthesis of these materials for small modular reactors (SMRs), such as CAREM.

The synthesis process developed allows obtaining nuclear fuel materials for SMRs with burnable absorbers (BAs) in solid and nanometric solution, at low temperature and in air at atmospheric pressure. Through this process, nanometric materials were obtained and homogeneously incorporated into the nuclear fuel of the Argentine reactor CAREM.

The new synthesis method presented allows for a cleaner and safer production of fuel material. Other nuclear fuel materials, including Accident Tolerant Fuels (ATF), were also analysed in the thesis, and all the materials obtained were characterized using techniques that allow atomic-scale analysis of the materials, understanding their characteristics and predicting their behavior.

The development of this synthesis process is of great technological importance and methodological excellence, according to the jury that evaluated 139 applications. This is an absolute innovation that has shown a significant impact in the field of technical application and also on the generations of patents –both national and international– as well as on the scientific, societal and national development.

What the jury said about the First Contest on Engineering Theses

INVAP is an Argentine state-owned company, reference in technological projects worldwide, that convened an evaluation committee of renowned experts for the selection of theses.

Roxana Cocco, president of the jury, highlighted the importance of the contest in that it encourages young people to study Engineering. “It is a tool that provides solutions to complex and specific problems. Engineering promotes mastery of know-how, gives us independence, generates autonomy and sovereignty in knowledge, resulting in the country’s growth,” pointed out one of INVAP’s leading engineers, in charge of the qualification area of the PALLAS Project in the Netherlands.

In this sense, Gabriel Carcagno, vice-president of Research and Development at Tenaris, expressed that engineering “is a fundamental pillar for the consistent and sustained development of the country, where we have highly trained professionals and human resources to deal with the most diverse situations. The participation per se in this contest should be a source of pride,” said the engineer and described INVAP as “one of the most prestigious institutions at national and international level.”

In his turn, Eduardo Dvorkin, member of the Board of Y-TEC, YPF Tecnología, pointed out that “final engineering theses are important to introduce professionals to the field of research and technological development.”

Verónica Garea, member of the Board of Directors of INVAP, remarked the following about the contest: “We are motivated by the purpose of transforming reality. In universities, there are spaces for creativity; with this initiative we intend to add that enthusiasm to recognize those works that respond to the needs of the community.” The nuclear engineer, PhD in Engineering Physics, emphasized that the contest also sought to detect those students who could be future professionals of the company.

Vicente Campenni, INVAP’s General Manager, underlined the impact of the contest on the future of the new generations: “A few days ago we celebrated our 47th anniversary and this initiative is directly related to INVAP’s origins: the need to build bridges between academia, research, technological development and the industrial and commercial sector, for the socio-economic growth of our country,” he emphasized.

Orders of Merit, the recognition of the Organizing Committee

The Organizing Committee of the First Contest on Engineering Theses recognized the following works in the Order of Merit category:
Virginia Pérez Bernachea and Marlene Poet, of Favaloro University: “Design and construction of phantoms for mammographic quality control. Dosimetry in mammography”
Javier Eduardo Córdoba, of Universidad Favaloro: “Preclinical proton beam design for radio biological studies in the tandar accelerator”
Dannisa Romina Chalfoun, of Sabato Institute of Technology (UNSAM-CNEA): “Evaluation of the effect of nickel on the stress corrosion cracking resistance of low alloy steels in sour media.”
Adrián Isidro Yoris Nóbile, of the National Technological University, Córdoba Regional School: “Manufacturing artificial reefs by 3D printing using sustainable mortars.”

The award ceremony
The award ceremony will take place on Tuesday 25 September at 11 a.m. at the Science’s Cultural Center (Godoy Cruz 2270, in Buenos Aires city). There, the professionals awarded for their final papers that, through the practice of engineering, have a real application in strategic areas for the development of the country and seek to build a better future for Argentines will receive their distinction.

If you want to learn more about the Contest and the applications, please visit the Contest web


INVAP Press and Communication Contact
María Masoero
Tel: +54 9 2944 295583