Competence Center Computer Science Saarland
Since the founding of the Department of Computer Science in 1969, research at the highest international level has led to rapid growth at the site. At nine world-renowned research facilities, more than 40 computer science professors and 800 other scientists are doing research across the entire thematic spectrum of computer science – from the foundations to innovative applications. Two international graduate schools open the way to research. Numerous collaborations offer a first-class springboard into business. Start-ups are promoted by the IT Incubator.
Also due to this fast growth, the Competence Center for Computer Science Saarland (Kompetenzzentrum Informatik Saarland: KIS) was established in 2005. Since then, it has strengthened the scientific and technological basis, in the field of computer science, for Saarland as a research and business location: in particular the concentration and coordination of activities for a better networking of research, teaching, and technology transfer, as well as activities in the area of public relations, equal opportunity and promotion of young talent in computer science. The Competence Center is funded by the Saarland state government and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
Through an incubation process, Project Tandem at Saarland University aims to further develop research results from Saarland computer science and the Max Planck Institutes that are of interest for business or industrial uses, so that investors can buy products or licenses, or new businesses can be founded in the Saarland. Parallel activities in the project include national and international public relations, measures to further technology transfer in general, and strategies to recruit young talent in the area of computer science. Project Tandem thus contributes toward strengthening Saarland informatics and the Saarland as a business location.
Product and innovation cycles are becoming ever shorter. This is particularly true for information technology. The industry must therefore recognize the potential of research results even more quickly than before. The Competence Center communicates the results of Saarbrücken informatics internationally in an understandable way. Press releases follow journalistic standards and are provided in German and English. Upon request, the Competence Center also provides experts for interviews and background discussions.
Journalistenpreis Informatik – Unique in Germany
Since 2006, the Journalistenpreis Informatik (Journalist Prize for Informatics) has been awarded on the Saarland Informatics Campus, in the categories of “text”, “audio” and “video and multimedia”. The State Chancellery of Saarland sponsors the top prize in the amount of 5000 euros. This honors contributions that interest the general public in topics of computer science, and examine their opportunities and risks. As Germany’s only journalism prize of this kind, it is a distinguishing feature for the Saarland.
Journalist workshops and retreats – firsthand information
From 2001 to 2017, at Schloss Dagstuhl, the Leibniz Center for Information Technology, editors and young journalists have made a tradition of practicing how to present current research results in an understandable, fascinating way. In 2006, 2008 and 2012 the Competence Center for Computer Science also organized a journalist retreat. Editors from newspapers, TV and radio were able to learn about current research projects at the Saarland Informatics Campus.
After Saarbrücken computer science firmly established itself as a scientific mainstay over the past decade, it is now important to connect research and business in the Saarland as closely as possible. In order to transform research results into products and licenses, all institutes of the Saarland Informatics Campus work closely with the state and federal entrepreneurial institutions. The Competence Center also shows entrepreneurs opportunities for collaboration with scientists. The on-site IT Incubator, supported by the university, the state and the Max Planck Society, helps scientists to protect their ideas with patent applications and make them usable by business and industry, and also encourages establishment of new IT businesses with numerous jobs for the region. This spectrum makes the campus highly attractive for top international companies.
Recruitment of Young Talent
There are now twice as many scientific employees doing research in Saarbrücken as there were ten years ago. The demand is also growing, as it becomes increasingly difficult to recruit qualified specialists for the Saarland. The Competence Center therefore strives to professionalize the recruitment of young talent and to expand it nationwide.
Dr. Jens Kerber is responsible for young talent coordination at the Competence Center for Computer Science Saarland. His remit includes the presentation of the computer science field of study, and the Saarbrücken location, to school groups, teaching staff and university graduates. He completed his doctoral studies in computer graphics at Saarland University and was previously a local contact for topics such as qualifications, technology transfer and communications in the “Software-Cluster” project.
So far, computer science is not a required subject in Saarland schools. Although it offers top career prospects, students therefore have only a vague impression of the content and possibilities involved in studying computer science. The Competence Center is changing this through a variety of measures and programs.
Advanced Teacher Training
Once a year, Schloss Dagstuhl, the Leibniz Center for Informatics, presents continuing education for mathematics and computer science teachers from Rhineland-Palatinate and the Saarland. In the three-day event, which takes place in Wandern in north Saarland, scientists present current results and trends in computer science research. For example, they explain how security on the Internet can be improved, or how bioinformaticians simulate nature. Teachers can thereby bring their knowledge up to date, pick up on current topics, and incorporate these into their lessons.
Particularly talented computer science students can begin their doctoral studies directly after their bachelor’s degree. In an introductory phase, students from all over the world are introduced to scientific work. The Graduate School provides a stipend so that students can focus on their doctoral studies and entry into research. In addition to Saarland University’s Department of Computer Science, on the campus the Max Planck Institutes for Informatics and for Software Systems, as well as the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence and the Intel Visual Computing Institute, also participate with their researchers.
To make a career in research, it is not only technical knowledge that is required. Scientists must also bring along research skills to the “guild”. GradUS, the graduate program at Saarland University, and the Max Planck Institute for Informatics offer to their doctoral candidates a range of events to train them in these skills. Among other things young researchers learn how to prepare scientific publications, what to be aware of when designing a poster, or how to correctly present research results. GradUS also supports various PhD student groups that focus on topics such as scientific writing.
In order to improve prospects in the job market after graduation, Saarland University and the Max Planck Institute for Informatics offer special seminars. On the program are topics like project management, quality management, financial planning, and leadership and communication. In addition, doctoral students can participate in job application training on the Saarbrücken campus. Here lecturers convey, among other things, what strong application documents should look like, what needs to be taken into account in interviews, or what to expect in an Assessment Center.
The Scheer Group – The Innovation Network is a network of growth-oriented IT companies working closely with scientists on the Saarbrücken campus. Through this exchange, the the Scheer Group companies can offer their clients high-quality and innovative IT solutions for process management, learning management, mobile service management, energy efficiency and IT security.
saarland.innovation&standort e.V. (saar.is) helps companies in the Saarland to improve their competitive and innovative power. In addition, it assists firms in developing new sales markets and attracting qualified specialists.
Saarbrücken informatics is also part of the Software-Cluster. This region covers the centers at Karlsruhe, Darmstadt, Kaiserslautern, Waldorf and Saarbrücken. Along with research facilities and small and mid-sized IT businesses, well-known firms like SAP AG and Software AG are also represented in this BMBF-supported project. The goal is to combine and expand the strong existing competences in the area of business software development. With digitalization of business and Industry 4.0 having already been core themes, internationalization is now in focus. To this end, joint research and development projects are being conducted with Silicon Valley (USA), Bahia (Brazil) and Singapore.