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Altan Birler of the Junge Akademie:

A combination of "Freedom" and "Research"

TUM student Altan Birler
Teamwork at the TUM Junge Akademie: Computer Science student Altan Birler from Istanbul. (Photo: Maren Willkomm)
"Multimodal Science Communication" is the motto of the 2019 edition of the Junge Akademie of TUM. Computer Science student Altan Birler from Istanbul is one of the young scientists who work on a contribution to the project topic for 20 months.

Altan, which project are you working on with your team?

Altan Birler: Our topic is "Freesearch" – a combination of “freedom” and “research”. We want to create a platform that makes it easier for students to implement their research. We want them to be able to quickly and easily check on what researchers at the different departments at TUM are working on at the moment, in order to decide on which department would suit their interests well.

Why have you decided to take on this topic?

No matter whether you want to write a Bachelor's or Master's thesis; often enough, it is already a real challenge to decide on the topic itself, because you only have a rough idea. Then, it is difficult to find the right counterpart who can help you to form a real research topic out of that rough idea. With our platform, we want to connect professors or doctoral students with students.

You are from Istanbul and graduated from high school there. How did you end up at TUM?

My family is from Istanbul. There, I learnt German at the Istanbul High School and passed the German "Abitur". At school, I ran a Science-Olympiad project group with friends; and we said to ourselves: After the Abitur, we will all head to Germany for our studies. And now, all four of us are studying at TUM. It was my greatest wish to study here, as the university has an excellent reputation, even beyond Germany, and I wanted to be able to learn from the renowned professors at TUM.

How did you come across the Junge Akademie?

In my fifth semester, I received a letter that I could apply for it. I found the Junge Akademie exciting, because it gives you the opportunity to think outside the box of your own field of studies – and I applied with a letter of motivation.

What do you like particularly about the Junge Akademie?

What I like best is that it allows you to work with a lot of different people with diverse scientific backgrounds. One of my team members is a student of Molecular Biotechnology, another studies Physics, and we have a student of TUM-BWL and a student of Bioinformatics. That's a great way to network. In addition, the Junge Akademie offers a lot of freedom during the discovery phase. We were able to take our time to develop ideas; until all of us were satisfied with the chosen topic. You don't always have this kind of luxury in research.

You are co-organizing the Science Hack in December 2019. What exactly is that?

The Science Hack is organized by the Junge Akademie. We invite committed and talented students to a “Hackathon” weekend. The topic this year is "Environmental sustainability". Our partners from the industry present challenges, and the one hundred participants form small groups to realize projects.

(Interview: Sabrina Czechofsky; the interview was originally held in German, this is a translation into English)

Altan Birler, 21, is a student of Computer Science in his 6th semester. After obtaining his Bachelor's degree, he aims to stay at TUM for his Master's studies. Besides his studies, Altan works as a research assistant at the Department of Databases. In a few weeks’ time, he will participate in the student research competition of SIGMOD in Amsterdam. His favorite hobby is photography. He is convinced that reality is usually more beautiful than a photo - but the challenge is to find an interesting perspective for the motif.  

Interested in the TUM Junge Akademie? The topic for the year 2020 will be "Technology & Arts". The closing date for applications is September 15, 2019. More information: TUM Junge Akademie Application Information