With almost 1,400 employees, the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) is one of the largest research centers in Germany. Once a year, the HZDR Board of Directors awards the HZDR Prizes to honor special achievements of the employees. Having been part of the HZDR as its 9th institute for only a few weeks, CASUS already took home its first prize in mid-May: As part of the “KI Lab” of Jugend hackt, Pia Hanfeld and Lenz Fiedler from CASUS were handed out the Recognition Award for Science Communication 2021.

The main prize for Science Communication 2021 was awarded at the May 18 ceremony to the HZDR’s DeltaX School Lab, which, according to Dr. Diana Stiller, Administrative Director of the HZDR, “set up an innovative, interactive online service with impressive speed to support schools and families during the coronavirus pandemic.” The “KI Lab”, which received the recognition award in the science communication category, started in the summer of 2021 in the three Saxon cities of Freiberg, Dresden and Görlitz. Under professional guidance, young people have been working on the topic of artificial intelligence (AI, in German: Künstliche Intelligenz, KI) for almost a year now and are also developing their own projects.

In addition to Pia and Lenz, Dr. Nico Hoffmann and Patrick Stiller from the Institute of Radiation Physics at HZDR are also members of the awarded Görlitz “KI Lab” team. Since the Dresden and Freiberg AI Labs have also been established and supervised mainly by HZDR employees, the recognition award also went to Lucas Pereira and Dr. Raimon Tolosana Delgado from the HZDR’s Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology, as well as Helene Hoffmann from the Central Information Services and Computing Department.

Since Day 1, support for the Görlitz KI Lab has also come from CASUS Scientific Head Dr. Michael Bussmann: “Pia and Lenz are from Lusatia and are working on the use of artificial intelligence in their doctoral theses. Both are highly committed students in many ways and, among other things also with this Jugend hackt project, fill others with enthusiasm about science.”

Pia, Lenz – congratulations on this recognition! Now it’s been almost a year of Jugend hackt in Görlitz. What kinds of things have you been up to so far?

Pia: Thank you very much! Since the first workshop, our young people have been eager to learn how to program games. For that, we looked at different development environments with them using Unity and Roblox. By now, they can implement their own ideas and only need support for more complex tasks, where even we break out in a sweat. Creating their own little works of art with the 3D printer is also no longer witchcraft for our participants. In the near future, we want to deepen their knowledge with the Python programming language, so that they can make the transition to AI more easily.

Is it still possible for interested people to join?

Pia: At any time! We don’t have any registrations. Whoever has time, energy and interest, just comes by. If someone doesn’t like the latest workshop, just come to the next Open Lab. We meet every other Wednesday at the Rabryka Makerspace in downtown West.

Do you currently have anything special in the works?

Lenz: In July, the Jugend hackt Lab Görlitz will be one year old and we are planning a small “birthday party”. Details will follow. It’s always best to check out the website.

Do you still enjoy being a mentor and why?

Lenz: Being a mentor is definitely a lot of fun. I especially enjoy seeing how the young people develop. Our topics are really something new in Görlitz and we get the feedback that our offer is very well received by the young people.

Thank you very much for the interview!

All HZDR award winners are presented on the HZDR website.