Term abroad in Edinburgh as part of studying computer science in Rostock

Doing research in Scotland’s smartest city

Pia Wilsdorf and her work on model reduction in smart cities; Photo: Julia Tetzke, ITMZ

Bachelor computer science students have the opportunity to do a one term practical training or stay abroad within the course of their computer science studies at the University of Rostock. Pia Wilsdorf, master student of computer science in Rostock, made also use of the opportunity to go abroad within the context of her master studies. “It was less a study visit, but a research term”, Pia states after returning from the Scottish university city Edinburgh where she spent winter term 2016/2017.

"Edinburgh is a very beautiful, vivid city", the 23 years old tells and stresses: "I was less student and more scientific assistant there, in a research project, was fully integrated into the research team“. Pia Wilsdorf works in a large EU project on “smart cities”, which works, amongst others, with smart transport systems, ranging from public transport to bike sharing. “We had to model and simulate how bus lines are accepted and at which stations which numbers of rental bikes should be provided.” For this, all persons such as pedestrians, cyclists and bus passengers must be modeled and simulated in their behavior. The computer science student from Rostock got her own research sub-project in this context in Edinburgh. She was solely responsible for a so-called “model reduction”: Modelling all traffic participants individually would have been far too much effort. According to a newly developed procedure, groups of similarly acting persons had to be pooled to make the total simulation more efficient later on.

In addition to her research work, Pia Wilsdorf also got the chance to listen to specialist lectures in Edinburgh, especially in fields like processing natural language and robotics which she would not have been able to attend in Rostock. Parallel, she got the opportunity to write her first scientific articles, two of them being already scheduled for publication.

Pia Wilsdorf who came from Dresden to Rostock for studying computer science some years ago, took her decision because of the location near the Baltic Sea first, but also because of the brand new computer science building in the Hanseatic City. Originally envisaged was to leave the Baltic Sea region again after her bachelor graduation. “Because I got the opportunity to spend a research term abroad I will now also do my master in Rostock.” And may be even with as much success as the bachelor studies: Pia was awarded for the best computer science bachelor thesis in Rostock in 2016 in July 2017. Prof. Dr. Adelinde Uhrmacher, holder of the chair for modelling and simulation at the University of Rostock, handed over the certificate on behalf of Rostock’s promotion association INFO.RO. May be Pia Wilsdorf can stay in Rostock even after her master's degree. Then, she would research for some more years in another “smart city”.