UKRAINE, Kharkiv and Kyiv: 2 German-Ukrainian DAAD Autumn Schools

The Technical University of Applied Sciences Wildau organized two Autumn Schools in Kharkiv and Kyiv entitled “Lessons for Biomedicine learnt from Nanotechnology and Artificial Intelligence” (27 September – 8 October 2021), in a hybrid format.

Participants and speakers in Kharkiv and in Kyiv, October 2021. Courtesy of Technical University of Applied Sciences Wildau.

The two schools were funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst, DAAD) in the frame of the program „Sommerschulen im Ausland (Summer Schools Abroad)“ and were supported by the German-Ukrainian Academic Society. The organizing committee from Wildau consisted of Prof. Dr. Marcus Frohme (chair), Prof. Dr. Alina Nechyporenko and Dr. Anna Grebinyk. The first school took place at the Kharkiv National University of Radio Electronics in cooperation with the local organizers, led by Prof. Dr. Igor Grebennik. The second school was organized at the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv in cooperation with the local organizing committee, led by Prof. Dr. Yuriy Prylutskyy.

The schools broke the ground not only by bringing German and Ukrainian scientists together, but also uniting Nanotechnology and Artificial Intelligence (AI) under the motto “Science of today is medicine for tomorrow”. The goal was to explore synergies between these two innovative fields at an event aimed at young scientists. Furthermore, the idea was also to foster scientific cooperations between Germany and Ukraine and, finally, to promote German universities. A half day for soft skills training supported the participants to develop their careers. Both welcome and farewell events as well as a cultural activities brought the community together and stimulated exchange.

The events were framed by additional digital measures (e.g. extensive online marketing, a website with online application tools, a mobile application for the participants and lecturers to organize their participation, live streaming on YouTube etc.). 25 young scientists were selected for each school from more than 100 applications . The lecturers’ team consisted of 40 lecturers and speakers from Germany and Ukraine, including the representatives of the DAAD Information Center in Kyiv, the company „Science Management Berlin“ and members of the German-Ukrainian Academic Society.

Each Autumn School had five similarly scheduled working days (Monday to Friday), with one joint hybrid day on the Saturday in between. The scientific program covered the most intriguing topics and applications of Nano- and AI technologies in biomedicine. Nanotechnology lectures and workshops covered a broad field from carbon, calcium-phosphate and polymer nanomaterials, DNA nanotechnology, smart nanomedicines, optical detection of nanoparticles, hazard and risk assessment of nanomaterials to inhibition of viruses, including authentic SARS-CoV-2, with nanoparticles and synthetic nanobiosystems. AI lectures and workshops also addressed a wide range of topics: from automation technology, high performance computing, the Phi-function technique, medical data stream mining, deep convolutional neural network for biomedical image analysis, privacy-preserving systems medicine to FAIR data management and much more. A goal was to offer participants, who were already familiar with computer science/AI technologies an insight into the nanotechnology/chemistry field, and vice versa. This was organized through peer-to-peer sessions, which provided mutual coaching.

The Autumn Schools had also various activities to support cultural exchange as well as an introduction to Germany. On the first day, participants took a captivating quiz on unexpected facts about Ukraine and Germany. The fact, that the world-biggest aircraft, the Ukrainian Antonow An-225 “Mriya” (Dream), was more or less known, but that the narrowest street in the world is only 31 cm wide could be found in the German city of Reutlingen was quite a surprise for everyone. The “German afternoon” included a slide show “Best of Germany”, presented be the lecturers from Germany, introducing Germany’s beautiful nature, reach history, captivating traditions, useful information and much more. Furthermore, both German educational and scientific systems were presented as well as funding opportunities for study/research in Germany. The day ended up with four vivid personal stories of scientists, who came to Germany from the USSR or one of the post-soviet countries – given in Ukrainian or Russian language.

The Autumn Schools also brought science to the general public, fostering public understanding of science and demonstrating that scientific topics could be discussed in bars with the same passion as movies, politics or sports! Some 20 young scientists shared their research-topics of interest at local bars at four sessions of “Big Science at the Bar”.

Courtesy of Technical University of Applied Sciences Wildau

Two German-Ukrainian Autumn Schools were met with passion and excitement from participants, which was the best way to celebrate a double 30th anniversary: in 2021 Ukraine celebrates the 30th anniversary of re-establishment of its independence, whereas the Technical University of Applied Sciences Wildau also marks its 30th birthday this year – 30 years of science, teaching, research and much more.

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