Review of the MINT-EC Math-Talent-School 2023

What an eventful week the students have had! In addition to the six major maths projects, there was of course no shortage of leisure activities. These included a theatre team-building workshop, a night hike and a joint dinner at the Brauhaus am Markt in downtown Kaiserslautern. The students were also able to get to know theUniversity of Kaiserslautern-Landau (RPTU).

Together with some of our participants, we look back on our largest Math-Talent-School to date and its highlights:

Getting to Know Each Other

After a long train ride, the time had finally come for the 36 students to arrive at the community centre in Trippstadt! The first evening was dedicated to team building: After a joint dinner, where the students had the opportunity to get to know each other, the supervisors presented their projects. In order to be divided into small groups of five to seven people, the participants indicated their preferred project.

The big highlight of the evening was a theatre workshop. Together with Barbara Seeliger, the students exchanged ideas through various exercises and got to know each other better right from the start. »It was really fun and super nice«, says Jessica Thome from the European School in Bonn.

The first evening
© Fraunhofer ITWM
Getting to know each other games and a theatre workshop made the first evening a highlight

Versatile Projects

Interview Johanna Ibach
© Fraunhofer ITWM
Johanna Ibach with us in an interview

Early the next morning, we went to the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Mathematics (ITWM). After a short welcome and a guided tour of the institute, the project work finally began. They all agreed that this was what they liked best! The focus was on practical relevance and the students gained an insight into the professional life of mathematicians.

»I find my project super exciting«, Johanna Ibach from Christian Gibbs' group told us. They worked on a formula to determine the body fat percentage using the programming language R. »What I liked best was that everyone was very appreciative and you only had to bring a little prior knowledge. We actually all helped each other all the time.«

Teamwork Is Important

Franziska Sistig and Jessica also agreed: they worked together on the Cymoen O'Reilly project, i.e. on optimising the production of non-woven materials for wound dressings. »What I liked most was that we were able to work very independently, but when we needed help, we got new ideas and approaches straight away«, Franziska said, and Jessica added: »Above all, we've become a really good team!«

Lots of New Things

Charles Sunderbruch from Prof. Surulescu's group was also enthusiastic about the project work: »I think it's great how many new things you can learn in one week. On Tuesday, I couldn't have imagined which formulas we would be working with. But by working in a team and with the support of our supervisor, everything is just gradually coming together like a puzzle. I love that kind of thing!«

Especially because there was a lot of new material in the projects and of course all the students came from different schools and with different levels of knowledge, the Fraunhofer ITWM was very careful to give all participants the same knowledge prerequisites. Therefore, there was an introductory programming course for selected groups.

Many Different Career Aspirations

With 36 pupils, their future career aspirations can also vary widely. We took this into account in the project topics, from biomathematics to programming to process optimisation, there was something for everyone.

She is not quite sure yet whether she wants to study maths. »But definitely something in the natural sciences«, says Jessica Thome and adds: »I also have chemistry as an advanced course, maybe I would like to study something in that direction«. Franziska says: »Actually, I'm more interested in biology in combination with education, but after the project week I'll have to think about whether maths might be a good option.«

Group photo dinner
© Fraunhofer ITWM
After dinner, there was a group photo in front of the Brauhaus am Markt

From Washington to Kaiserslautern

Portrait of Charles Sunderbruch
© Fraunhofer ITWM
An interview with Charles Sunderbruch from Washington

Charles, on the other hand, is already sure of his choice of study. »I want to do something with flying! Because I'm interested in everything that has to do with rockets and flying. Aerospace engineer would be an idea! Of course, there's a lot of maths involved, which is why the Math Talent School was a great fit«.

He already knows something about flying: Charles even flew all the way from the USA – Washington, D.C., to be precise – for this year's MINT-EC Math Talent School. His school is one of the international schools in the MINT-EC network. »We are regularly introduced to events in Germany and can then apply for them. Because I'm so good at maths and interested in engineering, the ITWM's Talent School was recommended to me.«

The RPTU as a Future Study Location

After lunch on Wednesday, the students were given a tour of the RPTU campus. In addition to the central library, the mathematics department library, the university's own sports facilities and the large lecture halls, they also got to know the maths student council. The participants had the opportunity to ask other maths students questions about their studies and the university.

Night Hike, Card Games and Excursions

The group supervisors made sure of that besides all the work, the fun must not be neglected. They were there as all-day contact persons for the students and were mainly responsible for organising their free time. The evenings spent together were an absolute highlight for all participants. »We usually stayed up late playing cards or table football«, said Charles. Jessica and Franziska also agreed: »The evenings were always great, because you had time to talk to people you didn't know so well.«

For Johanna, besides playing cards, the night hike was a highlight. »I think the atmosphere in the group is very nice and the alternation between subject matter and free time is very well organised.«

To get to know the city of Kaiserslautern a little better, a visit to the Brauhaus am Markt was scheduled for Wednesday evening. After a guided tour of the city, which was kept short due to the rain, there was plenty of opportunity to exchange ideas, play cards and discuss the week over a delicious meal.

Dinner at the Brauhaus am Markt
© Fraunhofer ITWM
Dinner at the Brauhaus am Markt after a rainy city tour

An Exhausting but Exciting Week

Lots of new things, lots of programme. Our participants and project supervisors draw a conclusion:

At the end of the week, a final highlight beckoned: the final presentation. Each group presented their results in a 15-minute presentation. Afterwards, the others could ask questions. At the end, all participants received a certificate. The project supervisors in particular could not stop raving. »They were really great, I hardly had to help«, said Cymoen O'Reilly.

The 36 students all agree that they enjoyed it very much. Charles sums it up again: »I love projects like this, you learn something new, meet new people. It was really fun!«