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Flashes of insight and sparks of ideas

Students tell us their most exciting ideas and the places they get them

Freiburg, Sep 10, 2018

Flashes of insight and sparks of ideas

Photo: Carlos Dominguez/Unsplash

September 10 is Swap Ideas Day in many countries. It is a time for exchanging new and exciting thoughts with friends, colleagues, neighbors, even strangers - whether it is a plan for a promising startup or the solution for an everyday problem. Pauline Grünewald asked Freiburg students where and how they like to swap ideas.

Foto: Carlos Dominguez/Unsplash


“My friends and I came up with an idea for an important current issue one rather merry evening. In this age of increased gender awareness, we thought it would be logical to rename trail mix [translator’s note: known in German as Studentenfutter or (male) student food]. Our politically correct product would not only be healthy and tasty - it would come in gender-neutral packaging. We still have to finalize just how our up-to-date packaging design would look. Maybe we’ll come up with it next time we sit down with a cold beer. Whatever happens, our idea shouldn’t be taken too seriously.”
Wanda Unsicek is studying to be a Sport and Biology teacher
Photo: Jonas Conklin


“My favorite place to exchange ideas is certainly not in class. As I’ve experienced it, our studies don’t allow enough space for free, creative exchange. That works out better with friends in a nice café. There we talk about things like art and theater. And because I go on stage myself, there is always an exchange of ideas. Often we talk about how to approach a character or the best way to stage the next play. Over a coffee you have enough time to think these things through.”
Jonas Sahner is studying Latin and Philosophy
Photo: Jonas Conklin


“My studies give me lots of ideas. In our project classes I talk with other students about very different technical solutions. Whether it’s a shower head with an LED lamp in it or a soap dispenser with an integrated soap level gauge... We can realize these ideas later in our Master’s degree and test them, for example trying out the smart soap dispenser in soccer stadium bathrooms.  And other events like the COSIMA competition in Microsystems Engineering encourage people to exchange ideas.”
Maryam Smalach is studying Microsystems Engineering
Photo: Jonas Conklin

“Sports activities always leave room for new, cool ideas - whether you think them out by yourself during a long endurance run or discuss them with friends on a cycling tour. Of course, sometimes you run out of breath. Cycling and brainstorming at the same time is not easy. But that’s what makes it so productive - thoughts come by themselves with each passing kilometer.”
Janek Holubarsch is studying to be a Sport and Mathematics teacher
Photo: Jonas Conklin

“For me, exchanging ideas is something that happens primarily outside of school or university. During my year abroad, I particularly liked attending the block seminars off campus. These events often ran for several days, and with people from different backgrounds working together, really exciting ideas came up. Classes like that provide fertile ground, particularly for social issues and discourse.”
Johanna Cluse is studying Cultural Anthropology and Cognition Science
Photo: Jonas Conklin


“I have been working on my thesis for ten months and have to get my many ideas down into a few, specific research questions. It’s not easy. I’m researching the issues of ethnic power sharing. The separation of powers in a democracy for instance is very different in an autocracy. This means I have to set out concrete geographical, political or ethic categories which I can apply to the issue of the division of powers. My professor and my colleagues are very supportive in formulating concrete questions out of my big pool of ideas.”
Gurur Polat is doing a doctorate in Political Science
Photo: Jonas Conklin

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