MINT-EC Alumna Melissa Blum advises pupils to join the IoP-MINT-Camp


As a former participant of several MINT-EC Camps and as an alumna of a MINT school, Melissa Blum (20), RWTH student in industrial engineering with a focus on materials and process engineering, has a wealth of experience in the field of orientation programs for students. To what extent her participation in our MINT-EC Camp "Production Engineering" with Cluster participation which she attended in 2018 influenced her decision to study and how she experienced the exciting week, she tells us on the occasion of this year's camp, which will finally take place in presence again from November 8 to 11, 2022.

  Portrait Copyright: © Source: Melissa Blum

Hello Melissa, first of all, tell us briefly about yourself and how you came across our MINT-EC offer back then.

"I'm actually from Nienburg, a small town in Lower Saxony, I'm 20 years old, and since 2019 I've been studying industrial engineering at RWTH Aachen University, specializing in materials and process engineering. I started with this directly after graduating from high school. In 2019, I was part of the MINT Camp 2018 just before I graduated from high school. I came from a MINT school, participated in several camps during high school, but the subject matter at RWTH with its production technology particularly interested me. I also didn't go to this school thinking I was so interested in physics and chemistry, originally I thought I would go into music and literature one day. But then I realized that I do have a strong interest in science and mathematics. I found the MINT camp in Aachen when our MINT teacher asked me to try out such a camp. Aachen just appealed to me because the topics covered were very interesting and the MINT camp has stuck in my mind the most out of all the ones I've attended."

MINT (=STEM) schools are secondary schools with the possibility of special support in the field of mathematics, computer science, natural science and technology, if interest and potential is recognized in students. This happens in part by enabling participation in MINT camps, special events to get to know companies, or the event format MINT 400.

  Pupils Copyright: © Source: Anja Wassong

How do you remember the Aachen MINT-EC Camp?

"The workshops were incredibly great. I still remember the industrial robotics, the age simulation and the laser harp especially well after four years. The group dynamics were also great, everyone was highly motivated."

In addition to the opportunity to experience current research projects of the Cluster of Excellence, then called "Integrative Production Technology for High-Wage Countries," up close at the demonstrators and attend exciting workshops and lectures, the students* also had the chance to make contact with researchers and students and learn first-hand about life at the university. Among the program items that were positively received by the group and in which they enthusiastically participated was, for example, the workshop "Industrial Robotics" at WZL. Exciting insights into the everyday life of researchers and students at RWTH and at the Cluster everyday - Another highlight was the lecture on "Machine Tools and Automation", given by Simon Knape and Melanie Buchsbaum, the current Managing Director of the Cluster of Excellence. Other interesting stops, which Melissa Blum also remembers positively, were the Institute of Industrial Engineering and Ergonomics (IAW) with the human factor in production. There, the students experienced the effects of aging on the handling of technology with the age simulation suit GERT and jointly developed user-optimized robot controls. A workshop on "Optical Systems" held at the Fraunhofer ILT and the spectacular Laser Harp were also on the agenda before the MINT Week 2018 came to an end with a visit to the Institute of Textile Technology (ITA) focusing on "Applications of Industrial Textiles" and a final visit to the Science Night.

  Group Copyright: © Source: Anja Wassong

What did the camp bring to you personally and how did it influence your career?

After Aachen, I went to similar camps at other universities, and when I had to make a decision after graduating from high school about what I wanted to do with my future, I went through these experiences. At the Aachen camp, you experienced a lot that you didn't at other universities. For example, you were able to see the inside of the university, which I found very important in order to gain initial insights into everyday student life. As part of the science night, another highlight of the camp, you could really get inside the lecture halls, which left a lasting impression. All in all, the positive experience of the camp strengthened my decision to study here and was an important factor in my decision.

What were the main reasons for your decision to study in Aachen and what do you like about the city besides the university?

For me, it was clear that I wanted to study industrial engineering. Then, of course, I looked at how the universities in the area were ranked and RWTH Aachen University was in first place. I particularly like the city itself with its layout. Especially because Aachen is not the biggest city, it has many advantages for students. Everything is within walking distance, the infrastructure is very good, except when the buses don't come.

Shortly after you started your studies, Corona changed everyday life at the university for good. What effect did the pandemic have on your studies?

The first semester I was still completely in attendance, then came the switch to completely online teaching. In this winter semester, I did have some classes in attendance at the beginning, but unfortunately that has also come to an end with the current situation. Hopefully the summer semester will be a little more relaxed in this regard.

  Group Copyright: © Source: Anja Wassong

Many students are involved in student initiatives alongside their studies, what do you spend your time doing?

I'm with Ecurie Aix, the Formula Student team, I do the marketing there. In other words, everything that you, as an outsider, get to know about us. In addition, every team member is involved in building the car. We're currently building a fully electric race car that can also drive autonomously, and we're competing with it at events all over Europe. For example at the RedBull-Ring in Austria or in Italy. There are about 500 teams in the entire Formula Student and we from Aachen are actually always in the upper field.

So in conclusion, would you rate offers like the MINT EC Camp positively and generally recommend that students take advantage of the opportunity for orientation?

Absolutely! Absolutely recommended, just try it out. I'm also on the MINT EC alumni team and would like to apply to be a chaperone so that I can support the upcoming high school graduates and high school seniors at the upcoming camp if everything goes well. It is an association of former MINT students and we usually attend the camps as contact persons, are e.g. with in the youth hostel to answer questions about studying, the MINT certificates and so on. Dare to do it!