ASESMA is a series of schools providing an introduction to the theory of electronic structure, with an emphasis on the computational methods for practical calculations.
A forerunner to this series was a two-week school on computational materials science organized by Nicola Marzari in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) in 2008, with sponsorship from ICTP and the NSF International Center for Materials Research, then headed by Nicola Spaldin.
The 2010 school was held at the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences, Cape Town, South Africa and the 2012 school was held at Chepkoilel University College, Eldoret, Kenya.
An important component of ASESMA is the inclusion of mentors: advanced students and postdocs who assist with tutorials and provide ongoing consultation support between the workshops.
The mentors at the first school hailed mainly from Spaldin's group, and they proved to be an essential ingredient as they forged close connections with the African participants.
At the second school, many of the mentors were African students from the first school. Within the NCCR we will train and support our local PhD students to travel as mentors to future ASESMA schools.
In addition to the obvious benefit to the students that they teach, this is an exciting training opportunity for own students in teaching and mentoring, as well as exposure to different cultures.
A new component of the program that we propose for the NCCR is to coordinate with the ICTP to provide a visitors program for African students to our laboratories.