Leonie Wulf: "Technology is my thing"
Leonie Wulf is a 5th-semester student of mechatronics and communication technology. In an interview she explains why she has chosen a technology-science program of study and what the contact to MAN, her sponsor, means to her.
Why did you choose TUM for your studies?
Leonie Wulf: My sister is three years older than me and she also studies at TUM. Even before graduating from secondary school I learned a lot about the university through her, all of the information positive. And I was quite impressed by the scope of studies offered.
And why did you decide to study engineering?
Leonie Wulf: I discovered my interest in technology and mathematics very early, which I owe to my school and my teachers. In Thuringia there are schools with special classes for certain subjects and at my school there was a class focusing on mathematics and the natural sciences. I was always very good at math, which is of course a big plus. Changing to this special class was just the right move for me: solving problems in mathematics and physics is exactly what interested me. Due to this specialization I was also able to select information technology as my major field of study. I am still benefitting from this knowledge in my studies. I also recognized early on that I wanted to continue in this field of technology and science after my graduation from secondary school. The program of study “Mechatronics and Communication Technology” at TUM was the perfect combination for me. It is, unfortunately, still a rarity to see women studying there.
What do you think is the reason for this?
Leonie Wulf: My impression is that women, in particular, tend to be unsure of themselves when they have to deal with "technology". It seems to be different with men. This has its beginnings in childhood upbringing. For example, girls do not generally repair bikes. Likewise, they are not encouraged to play with cars or make model airplanes. I never did that either. In the traditional way I played with dolls and enjoyed doing the things girls do. However, school quickly taught us to overcome this initial skepticism, which is often the root of the problem. We were given encouragement and support in discovering our interests and talents.
How do you like your studies?
Leonie Wulf: I work as an assistant at the professorship for machine tools and management science. Fortunately, my parents pay my rent and the scholarship helps me pay for the cost of living. Otherwise, I would have to work considerably more hours as an assistant. Since the tuition fees have been cancelled, I manage well with the scholarship and my job. And the student rail pass is great!
How did you learn about the scholarship program?
Leonie Wulf: My sister was again the “trailblazer” in this respect. She received her scholarship while I was still in secondary school. That’s how I found out about it. But in my first semester I didn’t think I had any chance of getting one. It was only when I read a circular from our faculty encouraging us to apply that I sent the application in my second semester – and was lucky!
What does being selected to the program mean to you?
Leonie Wulf: First of all, the € 300 is an amount of money that makes my life and learning easier. I never expected to have such a good contact to my sponsor through the scholarship.
What sort of contact have you had with your sponsor so far?
Leonie Wulf: We had our first contact at the awarding ceremony at TUM, and I found the MAN Campus Day for us scholarship students really fantastic. There we could learn more about the scope of work and speak with employees from different divisions. MAN gave us a wonderful opportunity to gain first-hand experience about the company. We were even allowed to drive a truck on the test track! Of course, I had heard about the company before, but through the sponsorship I now have personal ties to the enterprise.
How do you feel about scholarship students being assigned to a certain sponsor?
Leonie Wulf: I think it is a good idea because we scholarship students know exactly who has endowed us with a scholarship. Before being assigned we are asked which firms we would prefer. This is really a win-win situation – for the scholarship holders and for the sponsors. I do not see any obligations but many opportunities. In any case, we scholarship students have a more emotional contact to the company through this support. A bond automatically develops. I am very thankful to my sponsor for participating in the program and enabling me to have a direct insight into the company. My sponsor will definitely be my first contact when it comes to a future traineeship!
Could you imagine yourself taking part as a sponsor in such a program as this later in life?
Leonie Wulf: Yes, if it is financially feasible.