Frequently asked questions for prospective students

Dear Students,

Many emails I receive start with the two words all the following headings start with. To save time and render the communication more efficiently, I have assembled the following list of answers to the most frequently asked questions. I hope that the most urgent questions will find an answer herein.

Kay Smarsly

1. "I want to visit IDAC"

IDAC is an open and friendly environment. You are always most welcome to visit our institute. We are located in the Hamburg Innovation Port (HIP), the newly built technology and innovation site right in the port of Hamburg-Harburg, at Blohmstr. 15, first floor. Just stop by and talk to people. The street address may be found here.

2. "I want to join the IDAC team as a Bachelor’s or Master’s student („hiwi“)"

If you are a Master's or Bachelor's student at Hamburg University of Technology interested in joining the IDAC team, you are encouraged to apply. We will have funding opportunities for motivated Master's and Bachelor's students every time. You will be most successful to first contact a PhD student or postdoctoral student at IDAC, who is working in the field you are interested in, as opposed to contacting me directly (see #6).

3. "I want to join the IDAC team as a PhD student or as a postdoctoral student"

If you are interested in a position as a PhD student or a postdoctoral student, you must apply for open positions posted at the university website. Also, get familiar with the doctoral regulations of the university. For example, you must have a Master’s degree with good graduation to get the formal admission to PhD studies. If you contact me directly, soliciting for a position, without having applied to an open position or without knowing me in person, the chances of getting a position at IDAC tend towards zero, even when you bring your own funding.

4. "I want you as an academic adviser"

I would be very happy to become the adviser of your Master’s or Bachelor’s thesis. Generally, we are trying to incorporate the results of our theses into future research projects, and vice versa. As a precondition of conducting your thesis at IDAC, you must have a clear picture in your mind on what to do in your thesis and what you like most. We will then elaborate a specific assignment together. Giving you any assignment without even knowing what you are really interested in would be doomed to fail and a waste of time to everyone. The most promising strategy is to first contact a PhD student or postdoctoral student working at IDAC in the field interesting to you. Open topics may be found here.

5. "I want you to write me a letter"

I would be more than happy to support you with a letter in your future endeavors. However, writing a letter does only make sense to you when I know you in person, e.g. from classes or even from working at IDAC. If I barely know you, I will state it in my letter. Note that it can be a critical pitfall if potential employers recognize one of your “recommenders” barely knows you. Briefly talking to me or sending me your CV does not mean that I know you better then; rather, sending me your CV is a precondition of getting a letter.

6. "I want response to an email I sent you, but did not get response (...within x hours)"

The following two paragraphs are quotes of Professor Thrun, who published this lyrical masterpieces at http://robots.stanford.edu describing the downsides of science and science administration:

“Please be aware that I have received many hundreds of those messages, but I never hired or admitted a person whom I did not know personally or who did not come with very strong recommendations from leading researchers in the field. Because of the huge volume of requests, I may not read CVs that are sent to me without solicitation.

This has become a problem. At present, I receive between 150 and 400 personal email messages per day. Even if I quit my job and stop sleeping, I would not be able to answer all of them. I am willing to spend up to two hours a day on email. This means that I am not even able to read the majority of my email. I realize yours might be one of those that I am unable to read, and I hope you accept my sincere apologies. On the flip side, if I only did email all day and nothing else, would you really want to talk to me?”