"Here you can also apply the knowledge you have learned and put it into practice with your own hands"
How can we make the world a better place to live in for our generation and all those who come after? With more awareness, for example, in energy consumption, travel, consumption and recycling – even in our private everyday lives? Jasmin Calmbach already thought a lot about this and about the finite nature of resources when she was a teenager. Having grown up on the edge of the Swabian Alb, she was already involved in a One World Group in her school days, was active in the Greening Stuttgart university group, helped with the campus garden project, led class climate school projects and was involved in the youth advisory board of the Baden-Württemberg sustainability strategy.
In October 2019, after completing her bachelor's degree in Technical Cybernetics at the University of Stuttgart, the now 26-year-old began a master's degree in Regenerative Energy Technology at the TU Ilmenau in Thuringia. Her commitment to the topic of sustainability brought the student to the attention of the organisers of this year's German Unity Day and made her the Unity Ambassador for the state of Baden-Württemberg. On 3 October 2021, she took part in the ceremony in Halle and reported on her experiences in the old and new federal states.
Close to current research topics
When deciding on Ilmenau, the East-West question did not play a role for Jasmin: "I never asked myself whether I was going to the East or the West. For me, it goes without saying that East and West are one." Rather, it was primarily the range of subjects on offer and the good supervision ratio at the TU Ilmenau that drew her from Stuttgart to Ilmenau: "My course of study in Regenerative Energy Technology is very interdisciplinary, close to current research topics in the field of future energy supply and, due to the small number of students, with excellent supervision. In the midst of the beautiful nature of the Thuringian Forest, you can study in a family atmosphere and get involved in a variety of clubs. This combination exists in only a few other places and makes the time here very unique."
In their studies, Jasmin and her fellow students deal with various topics of current energy research: "On the one hand, we deal with power generation through photovoltaic cells and the storage of electrical power using battery or fuel cells. On the other hand, we also learn about areas of electrical energy systems engineering as well as thermal energy systems." The theory is usually accompanied by a variety of laboratory practicals: "During a laboratory practical at the Fundamentals of Energy Materials Group I am currently gaining insights into the research for efficient photoelectrochemical water splitting (PEC) using complex semiconductor structures and I am investigating the surface of the PEC cell in the clean room. Working in the lab is a lot of fun because you don't just plan concepts, but you get to apply the knowledge you learn and put it into practice with your own hands."
In addition, Jasmin worked as a student assistant in the Electrical Power Supply Group on the project "ZO.RRO" - Zero Carbon Cross Energy System and was able to learn a lot about the regulation of the electricity grid and the Nordic energy market during a semester abroad at NTNU (Norwegian University of Technology andNatural Sciences) .
Balance through sports and Academic Orchestra
But Jasmin is also active in Ilmenau outside of the lecture hall, desk and lab. At the beginning of October, immediately after the Day of German Unity, she accompanied the new Ilmenau students as a tutor during the introductory week for new students (ErstiWoche). She is currently concentrating on her final thesis and is also involved in the study committee of the Regenerative Energy Technology study porgram and the study committee of the Department of Mathematics and Natural Sciences. She finds a balance to her studies in nature by mountain climbing or cycling or by playing music as 2nd violin in the Academic Orchestra.
After her studies, at the latest, Jasmin would like to continue working on advancing the energy transition in Germany: "The nuclear and coal phase-out is long overdue," the student believes: "These conventional generation plants must be replaced by regenerative energy sources as soon as possible in order to ensure a CO2-neutral, resource-conserving and at the same time secure and affordable power supply. However, decarbonisation in the power sector is only part of the solution to global energy problems. For example, we also need to rethink our mobility concepts and adapt our consumer behaviour. At the university, we are developing new technologies that can support us on this path."
"There are so many possibilities!"
With her Master's degree, Jasmin Calmbach has a wide range of opportunities to work on this development or the implementation of these technologies, and there are also many options open to the young woman when it comes to her place of work. As part of an internship at Stadtwerke Ulm a few years ago, she was already able to gain initial work experience in the operation and maintenance of generation plants: "Working for an energy supplier or grid operator is also possible thanks to the interdisciplinary degree, or working in political consulting to be able to directly drive forward decisions for the energy transition.I am currently weighing up my options. There are so many possibilities!"
Although Jasmin is a native of Baden-Württemberg, she could well imagine staying in Thuringia for some time after graduation - for example as a research assistant at TU Ilmenau: "The mountains and the greenery are a bit like home!"