Interdisciplinary research and technology in everyday life inspired pupils at the MINT-EC-Camp "Production Technology"

  Copyright: © Cluster of Excellence Integrative Production Technology for High-Wage Countries

The Cluster’s research is complex as well as fascinating and versatile. A short insight into the world of Production Technology was offered to 23 STEM pupils within the framework of the MINT-EC-Camp on 8 to 11 November 2017.

The senior pupils which have come to Aachen from all over Germany, had fun participating in the numerous workshops hosted by the different institutes of the Cluster of Excellence. By participating in these workshops, they could playfully experience how modern production management is depicted comprehensibly by means of simple props like bottlecaps or how a robot can be operated and how its controlling is calculated. Other aspects were also treated exiting workshops and the pupils gained insight into the extensive world of textile technology and the importance of light as a tool in production processes.

The camp offered a hands-on experience of technology in all areas – exactly what the pupils had hoped for. The participating scientists also experienced an enjoyable day with the highly motivated and interested group and offered many insights into their daily research as well as many answers to the group’s questions about student life, the possible specializations of their courses and the most valuable tests about university life and Aachen in general. The second day was started off with the Institute for Operations Management (FIR), where industrial engineer Daniel Pause introduced the pupils to Supply-Chain-Management with the “Beer Distribution-Game”. The second day likewise revolved around interesting insights into the practical application of the Cluster’s research.

The participants experienced what academic research looks like in practice by taking part in two parallel workshops hosted by the Institute of Industrial Engineering and Ergonomics (IAW). Under the motto “Hands-on Technology – Insights into Everyday Production“, the participants were equipped with the age-simulating suit GERT, which puts on additional weight, as well as tremor simulation gloves as well as cataract glasses, the participants could experience how it feels like to be 30 years older.

This glimpse of the potential handicaps of old age were used as an impetus to think about the technology of the future. The pupils and workshop leaders used the opportunity to make themselves aware of the fact that the usage of smart devices like smart phone or tablets will have to change significantly in the future and that the everyday technology must adapt to the needs of elderly users as well.

At the Workshop “software ergonomics“, the pupils were able to implement their new knowledge and designed an interface for a robot, taking into account the potential difficulties associated with old age or handicaps. After the informative workshops and lunch in the Mensa Vita, the group explored the Textile institute (ITA) and participated in a guided tour. In addition to a broad overview of the different areas in textile technology, the pupils learned about the numerous uses for modern textiles, especially in the medical sector or in sensor equipped sportswear and modern firefighter uniforms. Adara (16) sums up: “I think it’s cool that we were able to see that textiles can be used for so much more than just jeans. I didn’t even know that textiles were used in the medical sector like they are in artificial heart valves. That was interesting.“

The second day ended with a lecture of the Laboratory for Machine Tools and Production Engineering (WZL) on industrial robotics where the pupils could contribute their mathematical knowledge in various exercises. Julia (17) praises “the diverse program and the fact that we gain many insights into the university” and emphasizes that she looks forward to the workshops and lectures following the second day. She especially mentions the study guidance to be following on Saturday where she expects to gather more information on university life.

The Friday morning program was arranged by scientists of Fraunhofer ILT and offered both theoretical knowledge on light, optical systems and lasers as well as absolute eye-catchers. The students were able to discover the laser harp before the start of the RWTH Science Night. In addition to the use of laser light for technical applications, the laser is also used as a medium for art, generating sounds. Of course, a visit of the RWTH Science Night “5 to 12” was not left out before the end of the MINT-Camp on Saturday. The pupils and everyone involved experienced exiting days in Aachen and it remains to be hoped that one or another of the pupils will make the decision to study in Aachen.