Students showcase their vision of a university of the future

Gruppenbild mit zwei Lehrern, zwei Schülerinnen und Schülern sowie dem Schulleiter des Dürer-Gymnasiums und der Gründungsvizepräsidentin der Technischen Universität Nürnberg
Lehrer/-innen Andreas Stadler, Antje Hofmann, Gründungs-Chair Prof. Gyburg Uhlmann, Gründungsvizepräsidentin Prof. Isa Jahnke und Schulleiter Reiner Geißdörfer gemeinsam mit zwei Schüler/-innen des Dürer-Gymnasiums bei der Projektvorstellung (Copyright: Technische Universität Nürnberg)

Two project classes from the Dürer-Gymnasium spent the past school year developing ideas on the topics “University of the future” and “Art meets computer science”. On November 29, they presented the results to employees of the University of Technology Nuremberg (UTN) using posters and exhibits.

“We thoroughly enjoyed exploring the question of what the university of the future might look like in collaboration with the students”, emphasizes principal Reiner Geißdörfer at the start of the exhibition. Over the course of a year, 23 students from Dürer-Gymnasium dedicated their efforts to investigating UTN, and the synergy between art and computer science. The outcome encompasses four poster presentations, an installation and an interactive game featuring three stations. Antje Hofmann, teacher at Dürer-Gymnasium, points out: “Being able to showcase our work at UTN today is a great opportunity for us. Learning extends beyond the classroom, and we aim to broaden horizons, providing students with insights into various fields and the diverse possibilities awaiting them after graduation.”

Getting young people excited about technology

“We can only ensure the long-term growth of our university by capturing the interest of students. Additionally, we aim to engage young minds in technology and engineering from an early age. It’s particularly valuable that we can now gather insights from them about their expectations for a university of the future and how we can adapt our concept to align with their wishes,” explains Prof. Dr. Isa Jahnke. The Founding Vice President for Academic and International Affairs guided the P-Seminar “Structure and Development of the University of Technology Nuremberg – Concept Development from the Perspective of Future Students” in various phases. The class was divided into four groups, each documenting their ideas on the university of the future, campus and networking, teaching and learning formats, as well as international orientation and presence on posters.

TikTok, vegan food and a feel-good campus

For instance, one poster advocates for “Barrier-free and affordable accommodation” and “Water dispensers in the canteen”. “A canteen should have an international focus and also offer vegan and vegetarian alternatives”, emphasizes a student in front of the pinboard. The speakers also share insights into how apps can be integrated into daily university life. Addressing the theme of internationality, three students propose multilingual courses. Social media also plays a major role for them: they highlight the importance of TikTok, student-generated content, and simplifying external communication. Another project group conducts a comparative analysis of universities in the private and public sectors. Through a 4-step plan, they argue that effective teaching relies on flexibility, interdisciplinarity, practical orientation, and individual support. In their perspective, achieving this involves seminars and webinars instead of traditional lectures, project work, e-learning phases, internships, and excursions. Another group is investigating student interactions. They emphasize that comfort is very important for effective communication and consider it a key factor for successful learning. Consequently, they envision a campus not as a stark concrete structure but as an environment with green spaces where first-semester students are welcomed with a care package.

Making technology visible in art

Aligned with the interdisciplinary approach of UTN, the P-seminar “Art meets computer science” delved into programming, technology, and art installations, combining these disciplines. Displayed on a table are two papier-mâché flowers, adorned with small lights. When a hand is placed in front of them, a sensor registers the movement and a light comes on. Interestingly, the flowers were not crafted by senior students but by two sixth-graders. During the event, their art teacher, Andreas Stadler, commended the two girls on behalf of the German Association for Art Education (BDK) for their extracurricular dedication. Regarding the exhibits, he remarked: “With smartphones and other devices, you often don’t even realize what technology they are based on. But the work shown here is not about hiding the technology. The students have deliberately made it visible to show how it works.” It is therefore not surprising that cables are displayed on the exhibit surfaces. A story and three puzzles link them together: At the first table, colorful keys need to be held up to a sensor to free a monster from its cage. The second puzzle requires visitors to arrange syllables in the correct order by pressing buttons. The final challenge involves positioning mirrors to direct a laser onto a sensor. Successful completion of the task activates a captivating light installation. The students independently managed every aspect, from the programming and animated video sequences to artistic design. Reflecting on their success, one student shared “At the beginning, we divided tasks based on our interests and then worked really well together as a team.”