Sitting at a computer in the middle of the school holidays and developing an object for the 3D printer to print with the help of a CAD program? For Nalina Friedl and Gianna Kleiner, both pupils in the tenth grade at a high school in Leonberg, this is an investment in their future: “We decided to try the mechanical engineering workshop at TryScience, to see if a technical study program might be something for us. It came at just the right time, because we will soon have to decide which electives we want to take at school”, they explain.
Paul Kretschmer is a bit further on in planning his future. He is in the 12th grade and will be taking his final exams this year. “A classmate recommended this workshop. I signed up because I am not sure whether I want to study mechanical engineering or mechatronics. After taking part in the workshop, I am leaning more towards mechanical engineering. The insight I have gained at the University of Stuttgart has been very helpful”, he states.
Information, example lectures and “trying it out”
In just one morning, all three have attended a workshop, led by Felix Heizler, who works at the Institute for Machine Components, where they were given some insight into the various study programs in the field of mechanical engineering, and listened to an example lecture. And now it’s time for the practical part of the day to begin, designing a 3D model of a pencil sharpener and then printing it. This is a big challenge for all the participants, but it is also fun. Heizler is – like all of those responsible for the workshops at the uni – extremely motivated to introduce interested school pupils to the study programs and research, and help them to decide what study program might suit them.
In focus: increasing the number of female students
The main aim of the program is to increase the number of female students studying MINT study programs. “That’s why the program is mainly aimed at girls”, explains organizer Sigrid Eicken from the Gender Equality Office. “But TryScience is not exclusively for young women”, she states. “Most parts of the program are open to both young men and women. The hope is that this strategy will draw more young women to the events at the uni – and the plan is working”, says Eicken.
Numbers are increasing
For spring 2020, a total of 145 people signed up for the workshops at the University of Stuttgart, and 70 of these are young women. Almost all of the nine workshops on offer were fully booked. The Gender Equality Office has recorded increasing numbers of participants: in 2019, 19 events were held at the University of Stuttgart with a total of 521 people signing up, 250 of these were young women, 35 percent of participants have a foreign background. “The positive feedback from those attending the workshops and the impressive numbers have motivated us to continue working in this direction” sums up Eicken.
TryScience is Best Practice
These positive developments have also been noticed by the Stifterverband, which has awarded TryScience its “Best practice” seal: the aim is to encourage more women to study MINT study programs and to support them all the way to graduation, and the Stifterverband is searching for ideas from universities on how to achieve this goal. From 46 applications, 3 projects proved themselves to be particularly innovative; TryScience is one of ten further projects that have been recognized as “Best Practices” that encourage women in MINT study programs.