Between Quantum Computing and Flow Simulations – Applied, Current Research in the Autumn School 2023

Portrait of Felix Klein Fellows Lars Gottfriedsen and Steven Ziegler

Every year, scholarship holders from different semesters come together at the Felix Klein Academy's autumn school to work on projects, make contacts and listen to exciting lectures. We spoke with Steven Ziegler and Lars Gottfriedsen about their experiences in their studies, about the Felix Klein Scholarship and about the Autumn School.

The project work is much more fun in the bright sunshine, and the two maths students have been working in their respective groups for almost a whole week. »At my last autumn school in 2020, we still had to keep our distance and wear masks. I'm glad everything is back to normal, finally you can see faces again and people are smiling again!« says Steven. The autumn school is always the ideal opportunity to get to know the new scholarship holders, he adds. This includes Lars, who has been studying »Mathematics« with a minor in »Computer Science« at the University of Kaiserslautern-Landau (RPTU) since last semester. »I like the project work best,« he says and explains: »Simply because it gives me insights into more complex mathematical problems, even as a first-semester student«.

Lars Gottfriedsen im Interview
© Fraunhofer ITWM
Lars Gottfriedsen im Interview
Tretboot fahren auf dem Jägersburger Weiher nahe Homburg.
© Fraunhofer ITWM
Group excursion Autumn School 2023: Pedal boating on the Jägersburger Weiher near Homburg.

Working On Wide-Ranging Topics in a Teamn

This year, three different assignments from the division »Optimization« as well as the departments »Flow and Material Simulation« and »Image Processing« were available for selection. The participants were able to rank their favourite topics online in advance and were divided into groups accordingly. Together with their respective supervisors from the Fraunhofer ITWM and the department »Mathematics« of the RPTU, they set themselves an exciting question within a week and develop their own approaches to solving it. The two agree that the work in the groups works well, »even though I don't know everyone yet, but we get along great,« says Lars.

In addition to work, leisure time should not be neglected. The planned excursions were highlights, especially for Steven: »We went to Homburg, took a guided tour of a mountain cave and afterwards we went climbing.« In addition, the joint lunches were a good opportunity for exchange.

The Exchange Is Particularly Important

It was clear to Lars right away that he wanted to study something in natural sciences. However, he was initially unsure about his choice of study. »At first I had a hard time deciding between mathematics and computer science, but now I'm very happy, I enjoy maths more, I can do more with it«.

He became aware of the Felix Klein Scholarship while working as an assistant at the Fraunhofer ITWM. Since February 2022, when he was still a student, he has been working on the APPWAG project together with his current mentor Dr. Alexander Scherrer. The abbreviation stands for »Expansion of Resilience Promotion Programmes into a Platform with Target-Group-Specific Health Promotion Offers«. So it's all about software that develops individual training programmes and helps strengthen mental health. It's great to have a direct contact person, especially at the beginning of the study programme. »The personal exchange with the mentor definitely helped me to find my way around better«, says Lars.

Steven Ziegler im Interview
© Fraunhofer ITWM
Steven Ziegler im Interview

Steven agrees. After his semester abroad in Oslo, he is now writing his Bachelor thesis. For this, he is working with quadratic programming solutions in the gemstone project and is being supported by his mentor Dr. Tobias Seidel. »He has already helped me a lot, especially when it comes to what I will do with my studies in the future«, affirms the 22-year-old. In the meantime, he is sure that he wants to stay in Kaiserslautern for his Master degree, but he definitely wants to plan another semester abroad, probably in the USA.


Never forget to have fun

They both like the university campus of the RPTU in Kaiserslautern, and the lectures are interesting and versatile. However, a lot is expected of the students. »Especially in the first two semesters, you have to submit a lot of work, but after that it gets better«, says Steven. He therefore advises the new scholarship holders: »At first push through it, but don't lose your sense of fun.« To switch off, he does a lot of sports like beach volleyball or bouldering and is involved in the student initiative Bonding. Among other things, he helps organise company contact fairs.

Lars also has a busy schedule; in addition to his job and studies, he is also involved with the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) and organises youth camps there. »That can be a bit much at times, but of course I still enjoy it«, he adds.

The two maths students are also looking forward to presenting their projects on the last day of autumn school. »Everything works in theory with our project now, let's see how it works on Friday«, says Steven excited.

We are also excited about the final presentations and wish them every success!