Off to the US with “Jugend forscht”: An interview with STIHL apprentice Patrick Ziesel

Last year, STIHL apprentice Patrick Ziesel won the German-wide competition “Jugend forscht” in the category “Arbeitswelt” (the working world). Interview with “Jugend forscht“ winner Patrick Ziesel Together with Joshua Rikker from Bosch, he invented a wood splitter and felling aid. Patrick Ziesel has since attended the ISEF (Intel International Science and Engineering Fair) − the world championships for “Jugend forscht” − in Los Angeles. He tells us all about his experiences there in this interview.


Hello, Patrick Ziesel. A few things have happened since our last interview. You were in Los Angeles in May to participate in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair as a member of the German team. Would you please tell us what the ISEF is?

Patrick Ziesel (P. Z.): The ISEF is the world’s largest pre-college science competition. Almost 2,000 participants present their projects at the fair to a number of expert juries. There are seven different disciplines, and we were assigned to “Engineering”.


Patrick Ziesel and Joshua Rikker at their booth at the ISEF.

Did you notice differences between the individual national teams? Are there different research priorities or special interests?

P. Z. : Since the ISEF is also a national competition for the participants from the US, more than half of the competitors were Americans. The event was a “home game” for them, so to speak. Most of the research projects were submitted in the “Engineering” discipline. We couldn’t say whether there was a strong focus on individual topics in certain countries, but there were a lot of American teams competing in “Engineering”.

Who won the international “Jugend forscht” competition in your category? What was their invention?

P. Z. : Sarah Nicole Galvin from the US won first prize in the category “Engineering: Electrical and Mechanical”. Her project was titled “An Innovative Approach to Improve Spin Polarization in Co2FeAl0.5Si0.5 Thin Films for Spin Transport Electronics”.

You also got to see and experience quite a few things beyond the centre where the ISEF was held. Can you briefly say where you went?

P. Z. : To get prepared for the competition and to familiarise ourselves with the American mindset, we decided to move up our summer vacation and go on a round trip through the American West. We flew directly from Frankfurt to Los Angeles, then we visited Santa Maria, San Francisco, Sacramento, Yosemite National Park and Death Valley. It was on to Las Vegas and San Diego afterwards, then back to Los Angeles.


The “high fliers” explore the US.

What was the highlight of the trip?

P. Z. : The competition’s whole social programme was enormous. The organisers rented out entire clubs and restaurants to feed and take care of the participants.
One unforgettable part of the evening programme was the visit to Universal Studios and amusement park, which the organisers had rented out for us. We didn’t have to stand in line for anything!


But the round trip was a highlight, too, of course. Some of the sights, such as the Grand Canyon or Las Vegas, I only knew from pictures.

Have you brought home some inspiration for the future from your time in the US?

P. Z. : Definitely. It was fantastic getting to know the American mindset and their attitude towards life. I established a number of contacts at the competition and learned about topics I had never heard of before.

If you want to read more about Patrick Ziesel’s trip to the US, please follow the link: Blog of the German ISEF Team 2014

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