ENZo Retreat 2022

From July 11th to 13th, the first batch of ENZo doctoral researchers had in Hauenstein (Palatinate) the opportunity to get to know each other better, both professionally and personally, and to start the process of creating the Real World Projects (RWPs).

Already talking on the train from Karlsruhe to Hauenstein (Palatinate), the tone of the first day was to get to know each other better: an important part of creating a solid Real World Project in the future was to know what topic each of us is working on, and what background we have. The first day, while long, was filled with lively presentations, covering everything from geology to human behavioral studies, chemistry, manufacturing and smart charging studies of batteries, PtX applications, urban design, to mention just some of them. The day closed with a motivational talk by Prof. Andreas Wagner on the RoofKIT project, a success story where an interdisciplinary group came together to compete and win the Solar Decathlon Europe 2022 in sustainable building construction.

After a much needed night's rest, the second day started in the morning with a seminar on interdisciplinary teamwork. While we learned a lot of techniques and theory, there was also room for empirical learning, as in the activity of creating a tower with sticks, rope and tape. After lunch, the process of creating RWPs officially began: mentored by Dr. Niels Feldmann, we began the process of identifying the most significant areas of need for action, combined with presentations from two guest speakers, to create an impulse and learn about success stories. The day concluded with a group nature walk around Hauenstein to get to know each other on a personal level, away from the tables and conference rooms.

Finally, the last morning was spent continuing the process of creating ideas for the RWPs. We were able to use a methodical approach to identify problems that not only required interdisciplinary action, but also aligned with our passions and our technical and soft skills backgrounds. The morning, as well as the retreat, culminated with a first round of presentation of potential ideas, which were further nurtured by the final feedback from our peers, PIs and mentors. The result was successful: we have a new portfolio of ideas, created based on our skills, our passions, and understanding where and how we can improve society to achieve zero emissions.

With some fatigue, but a lot of motivation, we closed the retreat with a joyful lunch. The new cohesion of the group was felt on the way back together to Karlsruhe, where from now on we have a new challenge: to continue working to turn these ideas into real world projects over the next year.

Marco Ordonez