Honour for excellent and innovative teaching

Teaching Prize 2021 of the TU Ilmenau awarded

Eleven lecturers at TU Ilmenau have been awarded the university's 2021 teaching prize for their above-average teaching quality, their innovative and motivating teaching methods and their special commitment to the organisation of teaching. The TU Ilmenau Teaching Award for outstanding performance by professors, lecturers and academic staff in academic teaching is endowed with a total of 10,000 euros and is awarded by the university on the recommendation of the five departments.

Mara Seupel
Group photo of the winners of the TU Ilmenau Teaching Award 2021 after the presentation of the certificate by Vice President Prof. Anja Geigenmüller (right) in front of the Audimax.

The award-winning lecturers not only stand for excellent teaching, but also represent all colleagues who, thanks to their high level of commitment, have succeeded in adapting their teaching formats to the respective situation and in finding attractive hybrid and digital forms of teaching, even under constantly changing circumstances in the corona pandemic," said the Vice President for Teaching and Learning, Professor Anja Geigenmüller, at the award ceremony in December, which was held as an online event due to the pandemic. "We cannot appreciate this commitment highly enough, and you all deserve our heartfelt thanks for this effort.

The following lecturers were awarded the 2021 Teaching Prize of the TU Ilmenau:

Department of Electrical Engineering and Information Technology

Univ.-Prof. Dr.-Ing. Dirk Westermann

Professor Dirk Westermann, head of the Group of Electrical Power Supply, the Thuringian Energy Research Institute (ThEFI) and the Center for Energy Technology at TU Ilmenau was honored with the 2021 Teaching Award for his "above-average quality, comprehensibility and also strongly oriented to current research topics in the field". The focus is on the operation and design of electrical energy systems with a high proportion of renewable energies, new technologies such as HVDC and the next generation of grid control technology. "As part of his teaching, colleague Westermann regularly puts students in a position to work on scientific issues independently, present them to their fellow students and thus gain initial experience with specialist presentations," said the vice-president in praise of Prof. Westermann's achievements at the award ceremony. The new course "Energy Research and Innovation Methods 2" introduced by Prof. Westermann, for example, enables students to work independently on research questions in the field. In addition to his work as a researcher and university lecturer, Professor Westermann is involved in various university committees, such as the course commission for the bachelor's, master's and diploma courses in electrical engineering and information technology, and thus makes an active contribution to further improving teaching at TU Ilmenau.

Dr.-Ing. Maik Debes

Dr. Maik Debes, academic councillor and research associate in the Group of Communication Networks at the Institute of Information Technology at TU Ilmenau, was awarded the teaching prize for the above-average technical and didactic quality of his teaching.
"Even rather theoretical contents of his basic subject are always conveyed by Dr. Maik Debes to his students in an understandable and motivating way," said Vice President in the laudation. "For example, in his lecture 'Information Theory and Coding,' he excellently succeeded in maintaining interaction with the students even in the pandemic online format and motivating them to actively engage with the course content." Among other things, this included the completion of a term paper on a theoretical or current practical topic, allowing students to gain experience in researching and preparing scientific topics in small groups. In addition, as an advisory member of the academic staff group in the University Senate, Dr. Debes is very committed to the further development of research and teaching.

Department of Computer Science and Automation

Prof. Dr.-Ing. habil. Armin Zimmermann

TU Ilmenau has awarded Prof. Armin Zimmermann the 2021 Teaching Prize for his commitment to the conversion of the Engineering Computer Science courses and for his many years of responsibility for the "Software Project" module in the bachelor's courses in Computer Science, Engineering Computer Science and Business Computer Science. Prof. Zimmermann has headed the Group of Systems and Software Engineering at the Department of Computer Science and Automation since 2008 and the Institute of Computer Engineering and Engineering Informatics at TU Ilmenau since 2012. As part of the changeover of the university's degree programmes last semester, the Engineering Informatics degree programmes were also changed from the 7+3 to the 6+4 model. "As chairman of the study program commission, Prof. Zimmermann successfully steered the study programs through these changes," the department said in its justification for Prof. Zimmermann's teaching award nomination. At the same time, however, the university's award also recognizes Prof. Zimmermann's commitment to the "Software Project" module, in which students in heterogeneous groups work through all phases of producing a comprehensive piece of software as part of various courses of study at the faculty. "The valuable experiences imparted by this demanding module, also and especially in terms of teamwork and overarching knowledge and skills, have been highly appreciated by the students for many years," emphasized Professor Geigenmüller in her laudatory speech. "These are only possible due to the continuous, dedicated work that Mr. Zimmermann and his group invest in this module."

Dr.-Ing. Dunja Jannek

For her special commitment and success in adapting her teaching to the requirements of digital teaching, especially in the module "Radiation Measurement Technology and Imaging Systems 1", TU Ilmenau has awarded Dr. Dunja Jannek from the Department of Computer Science and Automation with the 2021 Teaching Prize. Dr. Dunja Jannek studied Biomedical Engineering and Computer Science at TU Ilmenau, where she also received her doctorate in 2001. "As an Academic Councillor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, Dr. Jannek has been responsible for training in radiation protection at a continuously high level for many years and is thus also a very important contact person for the students and a supporting pillar of teaching in biomedical engineering," said Professor Geigenmüller at the award ceremony. In addition, her commitment as a lecturer during the corona pandemic should be particularly emphasized, through which she succeeded in successfully imparting knowledge even under new auspices: "In digital teaching, Dr. Jannek particularly addressed the needs of the students through the diversity of her teaching forms, which they extremely appreciated."

Department of Mechanical Engineering

PD Dr.-Ing. habil. Tom Ströhla

The Department of Mechanical Engineering nominated no less than three outstanding teachers for the TU Ilmenau teaching award, all of whom were also confirmed for the award by the academic senate's study committee. Among them is PD Dr. Tom Ströhla, who is acknowledged in the laudation "as one of the most open-minded and committed innovators of teaching". For many years, he had been involved in the redesign of the mechatronics course and was one of the main pillars of mechatronics with his courses. He has actively introduced new forms of teaching and learning to increase student motivation and learning effects, including new digital formats. Professor Geigenmüller: "With this award, TU Ilmenau recognizes Tom Ströhla for his outstanding online teaching, which encourages active participation, and the particularly successful linking of theoretical principles with practical application examples." For a better understanding of the subject matter from the students' point of view, he co-authored the textbook 'Understanding Electric Motors and Actuators: Students Writing for Students'." His high commitment to good teaching is reflected in the results of the regularly conducted evaluation of the courses by the students, where PD Dr. Ströhla always scores excellent.

Dipl.-Ing. Silke Augustin

As an academic staff member at the Institute of Process Measurement and Sensor Technology, Silke Augustin has for many years played a decisive role in the development of the teaching content of her faculty in close and trusting cooperation with the professors. The justification for the award states: "Silke Augustin is highly committed to the further development of teaching quality and the organisation of teaching at her institute in course commissions and self-governing bodies - even and especially in times of the pandemic. In particular, she is a constant and tireless contact for students with questions and problems in teaching, supervises student research projects and arranges internships. The excellent feedback of the students in this area proves her high acceptance as a lecturer. The topics of the student theses she supervises are always aligned with current research in the institute and enable students to actively participate in research. For these achievements and her special commitment to the implementation of the principles of equal treatment, the TU Ilmenau honors Silke Augustin with the Teaching Award 2021."

Dr.-Ing. Erik Gerlach

For his exemplary and for the Department of Mechanical Engineering indispensable commitment to student education, Dr. Erik Gerlach has been awarded the Teaching Prize 2021. As the vice-president emphasized at the award ceremony, Erik Gerlach has succeeded in an outstanding manner in combining mathematically demanding content and methods with solutions to practical problems in a way that is comprehensible to students during his more than 25 years of work in the Group of Engineering Mechanics, currently for example in the lecture "Engineering Mechanics for Biomedical Engineering". At the same time, several generations of doctoral students benefited from his teaching experience during this time. The fact that the students attested a very good teaching quality to the Group of Engineering Mechanics, especially during the online learning phase caused by the pandemic, is to a large extent also due to Erik Gerlach's merits in the conversion of the teaching formats to distance learning and in the development of the "Workbook of Engineering Mechanics" to support the self-study of the students.

Department of Mathematics and Natural Sciences

Univ.-Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Thomas Hotz

Prof. Thomas Hotz, head of the Group of Probability and Mathematical Statistics, has been awarded the 2021 Teaching Prize of the TU Ilmenau for his particularly strong commitment to basic teaching and general education in mathematics.
As the Department of Mathematics and Natural Sciences emphasized in the laudation, Prof. Hotz developed a lecture on geometry from scratch with very high personal commitment in addition to his diverse tasks in teaching stochastics and statistics and in academic self-administration and held it for the first time in the past summer semester 2021. He said his concept of moving "along the history of geometry" through the multi-layered material allows students to look at mathematics in a way that goes far beyond subject-specific aspects. "Especially for this purpose, colleague Hotz has provided his listeners with a script of more than 100 pages, which, in view of a subject far removed from his research interests, shows his particularly great commitment to basic teaching and general education in mathematics," said Professor Geigenmüller during the award ceremony. He has thus succeeded in an outstanding way in shedding light on the importance of mathematics as a cultural asset and getting students excited about geometry."

Dr. rer. nat. Johannes Christof

With Dr. Johannes Christof, the TU Ilmenau honours a member of staff of the Department of Mathematics and Natural Sciences with the Teaching Award 2021, who, as a teacher for special tasks, has successfully practised just-in-time teaching throughout the entire duration of the project "Basic Engineering School - New forms of teaching and learning in engineering education - especially in the introductory phase of studies" and has continuously and highly committedly contributed to questions of "learning to learn" as an advisor, contact person and lecturer. With this award, the university also honors Dr. Johannes Christof's commitment to the conversion from face-to-face to online teaching: "As a competent employee, Dr. Christof has contributed significantly to the creative and technical aspects of e-learning with his innovative ideas for teaching mathematics differently and has always been helpful to colleagues in designing online teaching," said Vice President Prof. Anja Geigenmüller in praise of the award winner. "In this way, Dr. Christof has made a very significant contribution to ensuring that teaching could take place in small groups and adapted to different learning progress, even under pandemic conditions, and to leading mathematics education in engineering courses into the future."


Department of Economics and Media

Univ.-Prof. Dr. rer. pol. habil. Michael Grüning

Professor Michael Grüning, Head of the Group of Accounting/Controlling at the Department of Economics and Media, was awarded the TU Ilmenau 2021 Teaching Prize both for the high quality of his teaching and his commitment to developing digital teaching offerings. "Colleague Grüning succeeds in a special way in conveying the often very theoretical and complex contents of accounting and controlling to students in a comprehensible way," acknowledged Professor Geigenmüller. "His teaching is built up from the students' point of view and he takes a lot of time with problems of understanding. In this way, he always manages in an outstanding way to arouse special interest in the subject among the students."
By enriching his lecture series with guest lectures, Professor Grüning promotes the students' interest in the research topics of the department and at the same time builds up the connection to the free economy, the laudation continues. During the Corona pandemic, he digitized his teaching content in an excellent way, constantly developing his basic idea with suggestions from the students and always trying out new ideas.

Dr.-Ing. Florian Weidner

With Florian Weidner, the TU Ilmenau honors a research assistant at the Group of Virtual Worlds and Digital Games with its teaching award, who has made a special contribution through his high commitment to teaching and the above-average technical and didactic quality of his teaching in the study module of the same name. His courses include, for example, the lecture "VR/AR - Virtual and Augmented Reality", which he teaches together with Prof. Wolfgang Broll, head of the group, as well as the practical workshop on computer games. The aim of this course is to give students an insight into the diversity and development of computer games through the exemplary implementation of an augmented reality or virtual reality game and practical work in teams. "In addition to the high quality of his teaching, Florian Weidner has also made great contributions to the introduction of innovative forms of teaching, including digital teaching and examination formats," said the vice president. "Only through the commitment of our lecturers in the establishment of a wide variety of digital formats was and is it possible in the pandemic to ensure a well-functioning teaching. For this, my heartfelt thanks and high appreciation."