SimTech Phd Weekend 2010
Winged Plans for Visions
Söllerhaus in Hirschegg, Kleinwalsertal
July 16 - 18, 2010
Prof. Dr. Hans-Jürgen Quadbeck-Seeger, formerly President of the German Chemical Society and Member of the DFG-Senate, once said:"Visions are Winged Plans" Unfortunately, as everybody knows from basic physics, wings which do not have air underneath them cannot generate a surface force and hence cannot lead to takeoff. In research, the "air" can be referred to the researchers (here, Ph. D. students and PostDocs) and the "forces" correspond to the research projects. The researchers have to generate the forces required to make the visions come true. One intention of the 2nd SimTech Ph.D. weekend was to support and ensure that all researchers and research projects ("forces") point in the same direction. Hence, the Ph.D. weekend's main goal was the development of "Winged Plans for Visions" thereby "filling the visions with life" and making the visions tangible for the young researchers in SimTech.
Motivation and Goals
The following five SimTech visions form the center of the interdisciplinary cooperations within SimTech:
- The transfer of an empirically dominated material description towards a simulation-based design of new materials with tailored high-end properties.
- A completely virtualised development of prototypes and factories.
- The use of complex and integrative methods in environmental engineering, e. g., with respect to the handling of greenhouse gases or the global climate change.
- The transfer from the classical descriptive biology towards a systems-biologically dominated view on technical and natural systems.
- The summing-up of isolated solutions in the field of biomechanics to an integrative description of the human body (overall human model), e. g., with respect to medical technology and crash tests.
The SimTech visions have to be seen as superior goals, and every research project within the SimTech Cluster of Excellence contributes to work towards these visions. Due to this - importance of the visions on the one hand, and the contribution of the Ph.D. students via their projects on the other hand - this year's Ph. D. weekend focussed on the SimTech visions.
The goals pursued with the whole Ph.D. weekend were that afterwards:
- each and every Ph. D. student is able to relate the own project to the SimTech visions and identifies him-/herself with the SimTech visions,
- everybody recapitulated (with respect to the individual visions) the current state of the own project, in which direction one currently is and wants to be going,
- which future research project and cooperations are necessary,
- cooperation opportunities within SimTech are outlined,
- Ph.D. students and PostDocs gained a better overview and further insight in all SimTech visions (not only the ones they are already contributing to).
In order to achieve these goals, all participating Ph. D. students assigned their own project to the most appropriate vision in preparation for the Ph.D. weekend. This resulted in five groups, to which we refer in the following as vision groups or discussion groups. Fortunately, the SimTech-PostDocs each of whom is responsible for one SimTech vision participated at the Ph. D. weekend and joined and moderated the vision group.
During the Ph. D. weekend the vision groups worked on the realization of points 1 to 5. Therefore, the 2nd SimTech Ph. D. weekend was split in five parts. The first part consisted of preparation before the weekend itself. After the weekend, another part covered the gathering of results and compilation of the proceedings. The weekend itself was divided into three phases (Vision-Presentation, work within the vision groups, Presentation of vision groups) that covered the remaining parts which are depicted in the image below. The agenda had to be changed, as due to bad weather on Saturday, the planned hike had to be rescheluded from Saturday to Sunday.
Phase 1: Overview on the SimTech visions
Most Ph. D. students contribute to and are only involved in one of the SimTech visions. For this reason, most Ph. D. students did not have a clear overview of all other visions before attending the Ph. D. weekend. To gain a better insight into all visions, the participating SimTech-PostDocs presented the visions they are responsible for to the whole group of participants on the first day:
- Filip Sadlo - "Towards Integrative Virtual Prototyping"
- Sergey Oladyshkin - "Interactive Environmental Engineering"
- Steffen Waldherr - "From Classical Biology to Systems Biology"
- Nils Karajan - "From Isolated Biomechanics Towards an Overall Human Model"
These presentation formed the basis of the discussions within the vision groups. Furthermore, this introduction were seen to inspire the Ph. D. students to identify themselves as part of the greater whole.
Phase 2: Work within the vision groups
On the second day, the whole group split up into the five vision groups. Within the vision groups, at first each Ph.D. students presented his/her project with respect to each vision thereby using the prepared presentations.
These short presentation helped the Ph. D. students in gaining more insight into other projects, afterwards allowing for a more productive discussion and pointing out new links and contact points between different projects.
Based on the short presentations, each vision group jointly worked "on" the respective vision and more precisely elaborated them. Ideas for the realization of the goals resulting from the vision were collected. The central points were possible cooperations, starting-points, approaches, and continuative projects during and after the end of the current project phase. The discussion was moderated by the attending SimTech-PostDocs.
After collecting different approaches and ideas, the most promising ones were selected (according to the perspective of Ph.D. students and SimTech-PostDoc) and analyzed/discussed in greater depth. Storyboards, workflows as well as structures were pinpointed and fictitious milestones were defined. Finally, the results of the discussion were preliminarily summarized and a short presentation was prepared.
Phase 3: Presentation of results
Due to bad weather rescheduled from Sunday morning to Saturday afternoon, the vision groups had the opportunity to present the results of the discussion. The objective was to show all participants how the work towards each vision was approached and rendered more precisely and how all Ph. D. students can be integrated in shaping the visions. Furthermore, each vision group obtained feedback and inspiring ideas/comments from the other groups.
To ensure that the results and ideas generated during the weekend are not lost, the vision groups were asked to prepare a summary. These summaries were completed after the weekend and can be found online.
In order to measure the impact of the weekend, an evaluation was carried out by all Ph. D. students and PostDocs. The results show that the weekend provided all participants with an overview about the SimTech visions and most of the participants could also increase their existing knowledge. Furthermore, the identification of the participants and their research with the SimTech visions could be significantly improved. This improvement was backed up by an increased knowledge about how the individual projects can actually contribute to the implementation of the respective vision.
Leisure part: Hiking the Alps
Due to a rainy Saturday afternoon, the leisure part, a hike to the Walmendinger Horn, was rescheduled from Saturday to Sunday. After a hard day of work on Saturday, we enjoyed a wonderful hike without any rain and an almost blue sky on Sunday morning. We took the direct way from the Söllerhaus (at aprox. 1318m) to the top of the Walmendinger Horn (1990m) and had lunch at the Sonna-Alp on the way down and back to the Söllerhaus.
The organizers of the Ph. D. weekend would like to thank the Executive Board of Directors of SimTech for the opportunity of organizing this weekend. Furthermore, we thank the German Research Foundation (DFG) for financial support of Ph.D. weekend within the context of Cluster of Excellence in Simulation Technology (EXC 310/1) at the University of Stuttgart.
Thanks also goes to the SimTech Management Team. In particular Annette Hurst and Birgit Unger, who helped organizing the weekend and contributed to the discussions before and during the weekend.
Also the SimTech-PostDocs played a central roll during. They presented the visions, moderated the discussions in the vision groups, and organized in cooperation with the participants of their vision groups the manuscripts. Hence, special thanks belongs to the SimTech-PostDocs.
No Ph.D. weekend can take place without Ph. D. students attending and contributing. We would like to thank all participating Ph.D. students for enthusiastic and motivated discussions and work input, as well as their attendance.
Finally, we would like to thank all participants. It was a great, fruitful and productive time. We enjoyed the discussion and the get-togethers, simply the whole weekend!