Klaus vom Hofe


Green mobile radio: students give recommendations

20 female students spent five months working on a concept for sustainable and efficient mobile base stations. Now they have given their recommendations to Deutsche Telekom. All of them are scholarship holders of the "Femtec" programme. Together with companies like Deutsche Telekom, this programme promotes young women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Laura Kuper was one of them. In the interview, the energy technology student reports on what she experienced and what is important to her. Our photo show shows the highlights of the final presentation.   

You were on site with other students at mobile base stations of the Deutsche Telekom subsidiary T-Mobile Polska in Poland. What was that like for you?

Laura: I was very impressed. The experts in Warsaw opened all the doors for us. They took us to mobile base stations two hours south of the capital. There we were able to get a good picture. They showed us how the stations are already equipped with solar systems and what possibilities there are: Photovoltaics on the antenna, on the roof of the base station, on the ground ... And how such a station actually works. I was very impressed by how enthusiastically and enthusiastically the technicians do their job and how humorous they are. We laughed a lot. And of course we took a lot away with us for our further work on the topic. 

You split up into teams. One team examined suitable batteries for the Deutsche Telekom mobile radio stations operating in Europe under different conditions. You were part of the group that visited some sites to work on sustainable energy supply with the knowledge. What was the next step for you? 

Laura: We developed a concept for a "modular system". So applicable for antennas in windy and sunny mountains in Greece just like in the lowlands in Poland. It was clear to everyone from the beginning that artificial intelligence would play a role, i.e. a smart system that mediates between components of each station and makes decisions: when does the electricity come directly from photovoltaics, when from the grid, when from the battery. For this, we looked at the "consumers", i.e. the antenna and the cooling, just like the supply: When is there too much power and when is there too little ...

There is certainly a lot of data that plays a role, such as how much energy is expected to be produced and consumed. 

Laura: Exactly. This ranges from weather data to the forecast of how many people are active in the mobile radio cell. And then the linked system must be able to make the right decisions. First of all, we looked at what already exists in research and practice and what we could integrate into our concept. It was helpful that our team was made up of people from the fields of mechanical engineering, computer science, data science and energy technology.

You did all this alongside your studies ... 

Laura Kuper, Kalyani Mahakalkar and Zahroh Khumayr.

On site in Poland: Laura Kuper, Kalyani Mahakalkar and Zahroh Khumayr.

Laura: ... which was not so easy. Especially at the beginning. We had to get together first. It was very labour-intensive. For me, a lot was about how to balance the project. I had to learn to set myself limits, for example in the distribution of roles. But in the months I learned how to coordinate myself, how to build structures together with the others, how to take the first steps as a team. And then suddenly a "flow" set in. Everything fit and we complemented each other very well. That was a great experience, as was the whole programme. I got to know a lot of people, plus this exciting assignment abroad. And I realised once again: I only enjoy my work when the cooperation works. 

You are studying energy technology as a discipline of mechanical engineering in Aachen. So the topic of "sustainable mobile radio stations" is certainly close to your heart. What sparked your interest in technology?

Laura: (laughs) From the very beginning? 

Yes, please. 

Laura: I've always liked doing maths, for example. It also started with toys, such as a construction kit for a chain carousel with a motor. My parents supported me through their own backgrounds in the technical-mathematical-scientific field, but never pushed me in one direction. If I had wanted to do something non-technical, that would have been fine too. Later I realised that I wanted to get to the bottom of things. I have always been interested in thermodynamic processes, for example, why bubbles rise when water boils. In mechanical engineering, it's also about how heat is converted into electricity, for example through turbines. The topics in the field of renewable energies range from wind energy to solar thermal energy to geothermal energy. I'm interested in how to bring technologies together, for example to exchange energy. In my Master's thesis, I am working on energy systems in the food industry. Specifically, how heat generated during cooling can be used for heating.   

What motivates you most? 

Laura: The opportunity to change something in terms of sustainability. But sustainability means even more to me: sustainable human interaction, sustainable contacts from which I can take something away, respectful interaction and good professional exchange. And that brings me back to this point: I draw the most energy from good cooperation with others.  

Magenta wind turbine


Sarah Malakrah


Green cell sites: STEM-talents develop ideas

How smart, energy-autonomous cell phone sites could look like in the future: In just five months, 28 MINT scholarship holders developed a patent-ready solution.