My Motivation to participate in Design and Computation

During my bachelor, I had the privilege to already break out of traditional specializing fields and get a feel for how multidisciplinary scientific practice can look. Douglas Hofstadter’s Book “Gödel, Escher, Bach” is much heralded as a classic for us in cognitive science, and during the first semesters, that book accompanied me and gave some insights of referentiality that I would have missed otherwise. So I was delighted to find him on the website with the Letterspirit project, which is an awesome example of how rule-based constraint solving can factor into the design.

This is also part of my motivation to switch over to Design and Computation. I started there in 2016 and, together with several exchange experiences and a slow readaptation to the Corona situation I have been in Osnabrück and studied Cognitive Science for 6 years now. I collected much more credits than necessary, I could carry them over into my Master’s program, put in a final effort, and be done with studying. Many of the methods and the openness towards diversity I wholeheartedly agree with, but doing a master’s there would be the easy way out for me. I would not get to see new methods, hear new lectures, or expose myself to new thinking. Then, what is doing a master’s really about?

For me, it is clear, that any master’s program that I engage in, cannot be something I am not entirely convinced by, nor a traditional fixed schedule syllabus, nor something that is forced via conference call into my brain. I want hands-on project work, an intense connection to the people I am working with, and wish to see what comes up when everyone contributes a small piece.

While I encountered many interesting fields and areas during my time studying in Osnabrück, I found it fascinating in my free time to experiment with various subjects such as homebrew or 3D printing. As an equivalent to the deductive processes for scientific research, I found it always motivating to look for some hands-on project to follow through with my beliefs. Due to the 3D Printing practice, I was evidently confronted with the question of Plastic waste and plastic use. One of our biggest issues is still our waste management system, especially plastic waste. We need solutions to that! One of my idols is Precious Plastic. They motivated me to look beyond virgin Plastic Filament-Rolls and to start testing and experimenting with my own plastic reuse.

I want to continue to explore and max out possibilities of plastic reuse and 3D printing routines.

I also found that I am much more at home creating things, rather than purely conducting scientific research. I do not want to constrain my thought processes purely to deductive processes and see what other modes of exploring the world there are.

Cognitive Science was in many areas helpful for me and an overall positive experience. What I was crucially missing still was project-oriented autonomous research. The departments work closely together, but I see a difference between cooperation and work that eliminates all disciplines. Re-orientation of the rather classic notion of expert and novice, which is put forward by the academic world, is of import to me and I would love to see more peer learning practices and less hierarchy in academia.

I found the possibility to realize that intention when starting to work for the UOS.DLL Project at my university and develop the new “DigiLab”, an open maker space intended to offer low-barrier entrance points into digital topics and spaces. While I believe that some value can be transferred now that it will open, I also encountered the many hindrances and fears in our academic setting preventing or slowing down new forms of encountering learning. We had all the toys: VR Glasses, CNC Machines, Camera equipment, you name it. We found it to be much harder to provide educational value to students than just providing the space and regular opening hours. The question of how to incorporate machines and technology into our lives to our benefit always resurfaced and we had to often circle back to the basic question of “What actually do we want our visitors to achieve?” and how does digitality factor in here? Not just there, the question of how to be beneficial to society and achieve the good life for all is always relevant and even more so when observing technology.

In manufacturing a digital part, all the steps necessary are controlled and executed by me, which is a real feature. Keeping in mind the production constraints through 3D-Printers already while designing gets rid of a host of problems in the whole process. This “Lookahead” practice is worthwhile in many areas of production in my opinion. I also felt that there is a difference for me in approaching certain topics without a clear schedule fixed ahead of time versus an even less restricted explorative work that was not present in Osnabrück.

I hope to find a framework enabling me to explore topics and skills needed to advance the recycling project. In trying to find a master’s program enabling me to pursue ideas that are central to me, like the recycling project and other ideas around responsible and sustainable living. I plan to also incorporate local recycling into later career choices and wish to exclusively sell products I recycled and created myself.

With the experience of using and troubleshooting 3D Printers, I discovered more and more that while the mechanical and practical side of the machines is fascinating to me, the thing I really love is creating things.

So, I started to learn CAD and am loving it. But even though studying Cognitive Science is an open-minded and diverse framework and affords me the possibility to explore many of my personal interests, 3D Design does fall a bit out of the picture. After my bumpy dive into Fusion360, I wish to engage further with object design.

While the technical part of creating the object now comes rather easy to me, I am often struggling to transcend the established way of doing it. In my mind, there are two methods of creativity involved here: one for problem-solving and one that puts aesthetic considerations and usability first. Those two kinds are certainly intertwined and they may not be dissectable, I still feel that my background makes me lean towards practical problem-solving, ignoring other aspects that I also wish to incorporate. So I identify concentrating less on forward-looking problem solving and more on backward-looking design methodology as a logical next step comprising good holistic design.

Another big aspect of my studies is the critical approach toward the world. I am particularly interested in who and what gets to decide in technological environments. I started out looking at state theory, went via the curricular and rather classical philosophy of mind debates onto a philosophy of emotions, got friends with embodied cognition, and slowly circled back to more normative social theories, looking at postphenomenology, feminist theory of science, and Foucault. Accompanying any education with a solid framework of what is to be achieved in studying a particular subject is important to me and something many people tell me they are missing.

Some friends studying in Berlin already told me much about their personal experience with the “Kritische Nachhaltigkeit” course. I am happy to see formats and concepts like these to be part of the regular Schedule in Design and Computation and am looking forward to attending a wide variety of courses, continuing a proud tradition in parts also present and lived during my Bachelor’s.

Another thing that fascinates me is these huge scheduled spaces for term projects. I will be glad to take part in them, to be working as a team on a project that will evolve deeper than a simple group presentation, and to interact with peers during some discovery process is something

I understand myself as a transdisciplinary and project-oriented person. Design, Computation and I would be a great fit and I would gladly dedicate my next few years to getting all that the program offers me and spending my creative energy on projects with value.