© Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences/Samira Schulz

Students award prizes for theses on sustainable development for the first time

Students from the student “Initiative: Sustainable Development” (sti:ne) at Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences (h_da) have for the first time awarded “Prizes for Theses on Sustainable Development” (pra:ne).

“With the new pra:ne prize, we want to create an incentive for even more students to deal with the topic of sustainable development in their final theses and thus help shape a sustainable future,” says Anna Theis from the student project team. All students and alumni of the university who completed their thesis at the h_da were eligible to apply. Their work should address at least one of the EU’s 17 global sustainability goals, the Sustainable Development Goals.

Innovative material concepts for wind turbine rotor blades were the focus of Bruno Bambach’s master’s thesis in plastics engineering. The work was done at the German Aerospace Center. Reinforcements at the so-called rotor blade root were investigated. The envisaged material concept should help the rotor blades to carry a higher load while at the same time improving the use of materials.

In order to enable school classes to design the sustainability of their school festival in an empirically measurable way, Johann Heinze developed an educational module for secondary level I (grades 5-10) in his bachelor thesis in the Applied Social Sciences program. The module consists of several units organized and facilitated by the environmental organization Project Wings.

Marvin Hübner dealt with the resource-efficient choice of materials for the “Darmstadt Vehicle” (DaVe) currently being developed in his bachelor’s thesis in the General Mechanical Engineering course. To this end, he compared conventional with alternative materials and used key figures to show which materials are particularly suitable in terms of environmental impact.

ESG indicators illustrate the sustainability progress made by companies. In her thesis for her master’s degree in business administration, Marie Kaspers investigated whether and how quantitative and qualitative ESG aspects were and should be included in the variable components of executive board compensation. The work was done in collaboration with Merck.

Microalgae are considered promising raw materials. For example, biofuels can be obtained from algae oils, and the algae are also being discussed as an alternative in wastewater treatment. In her thesis for her master’s degree in biotechnology, Samira Reuscher cultivated microalgae in wastewater samples from the paper industry. It was investigated whether certain pollutants were degraded from the wastewater and how the oil content in the algae cells could be increased at the same time.

The carbon footprint of heel reinforcements in sneakers was the subject of Bianca Weber’s bachelor’s thesis in environmental engineering. In doing so, she examined various production methods and material compositions and formulated recommendations for improving production based on her calculations.

“Sustainability is a central topic in research, teaching and in everyday university life as a whole. This is particularly evident in the fact that h_da students are interested in and committed to sustainable issues,” says Prof. Dr. Nicole Saenger, Vice President for Research and Sustainable Development. “The new pra:ne prize, initiated by the student initiative for sustainable development, makes it clear that sustainable aspects are becoming increasingly important in all our degree programs. I look forward to even more students being inspired for their final theses in the future.”