SMI 2021: A week full of numbers and program codes

They have built a measuring station for environmental data, decoded secret codes and, with the help of artificial intelligence, determined possible parking spaces in the city centre. For around 100 students, everything at the NRW Student Academy revolved around numbers and program codes. For the eighth year in a row, the zdi regional office organized a company afternoon and a university afternoon, where the young people found out about career and study opportunities.

Putting heads together, solving complex tasks and getting to know exciting study and career opportunities at the same time - 16 to 18-year-old schoolchildren with a special interest in mathematics and computer science can do all this at the NRW State Academy for Mathematics and Computer Science, SMI for short. The NRW School Academy took place for the 20th time this year. In a non-everyday atmosphere, they work in 15 project groups on different, partly computer-aided solutions, which thematically, in terms of degree of difficulty and complexity go far beyond the subject taught in school.

School and Education Minister Yvonne Gebauer explained: "I am happy to be infected by the visible enthusiasm of the participants for mathematics and computer science. We saw great projects. I am impressed by the great commitment and determination of the young people. A good MINT education is of great importance nowadays and an important door opener for many exciting professions.

That is why this state government has taken up the cause of strengthening these subjects. The introduction of computer science as a compulsory subject in grades 5/6, for example, was an important step here to make our students fit for the future.”

"At the student academy, highly motivated and extraordinarily high-performing like-minded people meet. But not only the students benefit from the academy, but also the companies, universities and colleges," says District President Dorothee Feller. “Contacts for the professional future are regularly made here. The feedback from the students and from the companies has so far been consistently positive.”

The participants are selected at the suggestion of the grammar schools and comprehensive schools from all over North Rhine-Westphalia based on excellent academic performance and their other extracurricular experiences in the STEM field. Each year there are significantly more applications than there are places available. Since each school can only nominate two students if at least one girl is present, the academy also makes an important contribution to promoting young women in mathematics and the natural sciences.

The participants were released from school for a week in order to live and work together in the youth hostel on Lake Aasee in Münster.

Speed ​​dating and study advice

"How does a lightsaber actually work? And can you build something like this yourself? How do you communicate with a robot? And what is the secret behind a mobile phone display? The STEM subjects are full of exciting questions. At zdi, MINT talents not only find the right answers, they experience the MINT subjects in a practical way, can do handicrafts, tinker and try things out. We want to promote these talents and show them at an early stage that anyone who decides on a career or study in a MINT subject will shape our world of tomorrow,” says Georg Mertens, the head of the department responsible for zdi in the Ministry of Culture and Science of North Rhine-Westphalia importance of these disciplines. "The fun factor is right at the top."

In order to make a contribution to professional and study orientation, the zdi regional office has organized an accompanying program. Pupils engaged in direct exchange with companies and universities during a speed dating event and a university afternoon. At speed dating, the young people got to know the agricultural machinery group CLAAS, the state company IT.NRW, the IT service provider adesso and the financial service provider zeb. At the university afternoon, numerous university representatives were available to answer questions from the young people. The WWU Münster, the RWTH Aachen (MATSE training), the Ruhr West University of Applied Sciences, the TU Dortmund and the FernUniversität in Hagen presented the young people with various offers from the fields of mathematics and computer science to help them orient themselves in the university landscape of NRW.

An insight into the dual course of study was gained from lectures by Bertelsmann SE & Co. KGaA and Fiducia & GAD IT AG (Atruvia AG), who, as long-standing partners, also support the academy logistically.

Further information

All information about the NRW School Academy 2021 can be found at

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