Virtual Mars mission completed

Ein Rückblick auf das erste INSPIRED by UNITE!


INSPIRED (International Project Week for Interdisciplinary Research-Oriented Digital Learning) ist ein internationales und interdisziplinäres Projekt der TU Darmstadt, das 2020 erstmals unter dem Dach der Europäischen Universität UNITE! stattfand – aufgrund der aktuellen Corona-Pandemie ausschließlich virtuell. In einem Rückblick berichten Studierende, Juroren und Organisationsteam, was sie über das erste INSPIRED by UNITE! denken.


Ein traditionsreiches Projekt dreier TU-Fachbereiche, 19 UNITE!-Studierende aus 12 Disziplinen und sieben Nationen von drei UNITE!-Partnern stellten sich gemeinsam einer Mission: einen Bioreaktor konzipieren, der ein sechs- bis acht-köpfiges Team als „Interstellar Farmacy“ über zwei Jahre auf dem Mars mit mindestens zehn Therapeutika und/oder Nahrungsergänzungsmitteln versorgt. Die Teilnehmenden traten in drei Teams gegeneinander an und präsentierten ihre Entwürfe am Ende der dreiwöchigen „Summer School“- Veranstaltung den Juroren – Professoren der TU Darmstadt, Universidade de Lisboa und KTH Royal Institute of Technology. Das Ergebnis: Mission erfüllt – sowohl die Teamergebnisse als auch das Projekt selbst, waren ein Erfolg. mho

"This project offers a different challenge from what we are used to, which is very interesting and tests our knowledge to the limit." - Xavier Lomba Viana

I was very impressed. I think the combination of a real challenge, and a challenge that was very open, to which there was no single correct solution and where the number of degrees of freedom was extremely high, provided the students with an opportunity to really experience multidisciplinary engineering in a way that they never do in their education otherwise.
Prof. Arnold Pears, KTH, Department of Learning in Engineering, School of Industrial Technology and Management, Guest INSPIRED jury member.

First of all, one of the main goals of UNITE! is to promote science technology, and also engineering education in a multidisciplinary and multicultural environment. And these are the key issues, also, for the INSPIRED project. So, multidisciplinary challenges are being investigated by the students and people from all over the world are involved in the teamwork. So, all the ingredients of INSPIRED fit exactly in this purpose of UNITE!. The second aspect is the virtual, physical or blended mobility, which is one of the key aspects of UNITE! also. One of the main goals of UNITE! is to improve or facilitate physical and virtual mobility of students. The idea is to create a kind of virtual campus, offering online tools, digital spaces for teaching and learning and virtual classrooms for joint teaching mobility or virtual mobility, and also socio-cultural experiences. This is also happening with the INSPIRED project. So, for those two reasons, I would say that INSPIRED is really in line with the UNITE! goals and ideas for the future. It is a good example of what UNITE! stands for.
Prof. Luís Castro, ULisboa, Instituto Superior Técnico, Guest INSPIRED jury member.

It’s ok if you are a bit shy or if you are not as confident with your English as you would like, because everyone is on the same boat. We just work as a team; we figure out how to make it work and we build friendships and great working groups. And it’s very satisfying at the end, how you evolve as a person. […] I’m a little bit sad that UNITE! only came along in these past few months. I’m now finishing my master’s degree and almost finishing my studying journey, but you – that are starting or are in the middle of your process – just go for it. It’s an amazing experience and you will never regret it. I would do it again with my eyes closed.
Sara Simões, ULisboa, Food Science & Engineering

I applied for INSPIRED, because I would like to do my master of science in Radiation Biology and I’m pretty interested in everything, which is about space. […] I would definitely recommend INSPIRED to other students, because you learn so much about the interdisciplinary work and that different fields of studies are important to get diverse solutions and approaches for a problem. In the end, you can choose the most durable and the most stable one.
Melina Kumpf, TU Darmstadt, Biology; winner of INSPIRED 2020

I definitely recommend you apply for it. Doing this project, you will open your mind, understand new perspectives, new subjects, broaden your career possibilities and meet amazing people from other countries. When you finish this project, you will notice that you evolved a lot in terms of knowledge and personal development. With this project, you will really get INSPIRED to the future.
Soraia Lopes, ULisboa, Veterinary Medicine; winner of INSPIRED 2020

This project offers a different challenge from what we are used to, which is very interesting and tests our knowledge to the limit. It allows us to gain and improve our skills in such different topics, such as materials science, biology, product development, project management and much more. It also offers a unique opportunity to know more people, learn about different cultures, countries, societies and lifestyles by exchanging different perspectives, ideas and knowledge. So, all of these differences and similarities were essential, and it helped us to do a great, creative and innovative project.
Xavier Da Fonseca Caetano Lomba Viana, ULisboa, Food Science & Engineering; winner of INSPIRED 2020

The students participating in the virtual team project this year took to their fully digital setting like ducks to water. They approached it with great ease and felt very comfortable in this setting, which is perhaps not necessarily surprising, but certainly exceeded our expectations. Also, their enthusiasm and drive to really deliver good solutions to the multifaceted problem that they were presented with – really just blew me away.
Agata Staniek, Ph. D., TU Darmstadt, Biology, INSPIRED program coordinator

Today, we have made the experiences that the students have no problems at all with the digital setting. So, they use all the tools quite intuitively and without any problems. But that, in contrast, guidance from mentors and scientific advisors is absolutely needed for methodical and scientific work. The teams develop a really strong team spirit and team commitment and even want to stay in contact after the project. And that’s a wonderful result.
Dr. Andrea Dirsch-Weigand, TU Darmstadt, INSPIRED Coordination Team, Didactic Advice & Support

So if you look at the lessons learned, as I said, we could tell that it’s possible to do it in a completely virtual format, without any team meetings and presence, which is not ideal but at least feasible. This is something very special and that is due to the fact that everybody gave their best, especially those doing the training, so all the educational advice given to the team – thank you very much for that, and also to the students, who volunteered starting in a virtual project. Therefore, I think I need to thank, and I want to thank, everybody by heart for doing that very special project – thank you.
Prof. Heribert Warzecha, TU Darmstadt, Vice President, Academic Affairs & Diversity, INSPIRED founding professor

"Without interdisciplinary work no astronaut would ever fly to Mars." - Melina Kumpf


Zu UNITE! (University Network for Innovation, Technology and Engineering) gehören die TU Darmstadt als Koordinatorin, die Aalto University (Finnland), das KTH Royal Institute of Technology (Schweden), das Grenoble Institute of Technology (Frankreich), das Politecnico Di Torino (Italien), die Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (Spanien) und die Universidade de Lisboa (Portugal).

Als Europäische Universität wollen die sieben Partneruniversitäten einen transeuropäischen Campus für Studierende und Wissenschaftlerinnen und Wissenschaftler unter Einbezug von Regionen und Unternehmen schaffen. Die Partner haben zusammen 167.000 Studierende, arbeiten in mehr als 80 EU-Projekten bereits eng zusammen und haben in den letzten fünf Jahren über 2.000 Studierende ausgetauscht. Die Allianz setzt es sich zum Ziel, die gemeinsamen Studienangebote im Dienste der Studierenden zu bündeln, bisherige technische und administrative Hürden abzubauen und damit die Studierendenmobilität signifikant zu erhöhen. Auch die Forschung soll von den größeren und leichteren Kooperationsbedingungen profitieren, so dass insgesamt die Wettbewerbsfähigkeit im Europäischen Hochschulraum gestärkt wird.

Gefördert wird UNITE! durch das Erasmus+-Programm der Europäischen Union, die Durchführung von INSPIRED innerhalb von UNITE! wird aus Mitteln des Bundesministeriums für Bildung und Forschung durch den Deutschen Akademischen Austauschdienst (DAAD) gefördert.