Last year I asked you what you could tell your grandpa about studying in Graz and how
you spend all your time https://kcposch.wordpress.com/2015/12/20/telling-your-grandma-what-you-do-all-the-time/
In this blog, I would like to give you some hints how to be able to show off when you meet your colleagues in January again.
You might, for instance, read the book “Free Speech: Ten Principles for a Connected World” by Timothy Garton Ash. Timothy Garton Ash is professor at the University of Oxford. You might also want to check out the web that comes along with the book: http://freespeechdebate.com/en/. You might get a lot of good ideas about the current discussion on hate speech, and similar topics.
If you are more for novels, you might want to read “I hate the Internet” written by Jarett Kobek. There you can follow a story about what can happen if you tell the truth and the whole world can hear you. If you are not sure whether you should read this book, read a review here: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/nov/02/i-hate-internet-jarett-kobek-review
I wish you all Merry Reading and a Happy New Book.
“LosFuzzys” is a group of young people interested in competing with others in so-called “capture-the-flag” competitions. Maybe you have heard about them. Maybe you read about them for the first time in this post. They are currently (Monday, Dec 19th, 2016) ranked at place 38 in the world. Tendency rising. Ten days ago, IAIK gave them a prize of 3000 Euros for their achievements.
I consider LosFuzzies an essential ingredient of our university life. Let me explain why.
- University is a place where imagination of the young ones meets experience of the old ones. The right mixture of these two ingredients creates new insights for humanity. Call it curiosity, call it knowledge, call it research.
- Some students, let’s call them “ordinary” students, quite often complain about their workload dominated by duties arising from day-to-day course work.
- Some teachers, let’s call them “ordinary” teachers, all too often complain about the seemingly too many lazy students not following their suggestions.
- Some students, let’s call them “extraordinary” students, use the available experience found at the university and embark on “making their own thing”. These are creators and not just followers.
- The students of (4) typically get together regularly and “do their thing”. They might, for instance, meet on Wednesday evenings in the IAIK seminar room, and train for the next capture-the-flag competition (https://ctftime.org/ctf-wtf/).
- These students do not need teachers for being active. Teachers noticing these students’ activities get rather worried when they see that students without the narrow guidance of teachers can create a working atmosphere in classroom far beyond the intensity of what a teacher might dream about having in her/his classroom.
- Students like those found in “LosFuzzies” obviously “burn” for a goal. The goal is twofold: Their intellectual curiosity is directed towards a concrete topic like “secure information systems”. As a group, they cooperate in becoming better. In addition to cooperation, their goal is also to become best by competing against others.
- Teachers like me, for instance, are amazed by the power emerging from the activities of such students as found in “LosFuzzys”; the reason for this amazement is that these teachers notice that they don’t have to pull anymore. All what is left for the teachers is to take care that the students’ energy drives this world to the better and not to the worse. It’s a question of ethics.
- A side effect of “burning” students is that they become experts and professionals in some area of expertise in a much shorter time than ordinary coursework can do. In the case of “LosFuzzys”, their expertise in understanding security and insecurity of IT-systems reaches far beyond of what can be taught in ordinary classes.
- As a teacher I feel lucky to have the guys of “LosFuzzies” in the room next to my office. I can feel the energy from this room whenever I am in my office. And as a teacher I sometimes dream that these were “my students”. What an arrogance.
(photos by http://patrickklampfl.at/)
This course has reputation, and not too little.
The System-on-Chippers of 2016 are a group of 8 students plus their two teachers Mario Werner and Thomas Unterluggauer. Their project was to build a secure smart-home system.
Today, they have delivered their presentation including a live demo of the system. For me — and I am sure, for many others too — it was a day to be proud of our students.
In case you don’t know:
The course “System-on-Chip Architectures and Modelling” is a course in which a group of students has the opportunity to achieve one common class goal. We try to model real-life situations:
- The course’s theoretical topics follow the project’s needs; not the other way round.
- Every participant works on a different task; thus, everyone’s results count for the group.
- The project has a limited time budget. Oh dear, the deadlines are hard.
- Trainers and trainees work together in order to achieve a common goal. No “us” and “them”.
If you look carefully at the photo above — well, you don’t have to look carefully, it’s obvious even without looking carefully — you can see a lot more than the 8 student + 2 trainers.
We were glad to have visitors from St. Petersburg in Russia attending the SoC show. The visitors were five Master students with their professor from St. Petersburg State Polytechnical University: Iuliia, Anastasiia, Aygul, Tsagana, Iuliia, and Vadmi.
I must say that I really enjoyed this visit. As the host, I was proud to be able to provide “a good show” without any extra effort from my side. This is how it should be. The five students got entertained not only by the System-on-Chippers, but also by several members of LosFuzzys, the local capture-the-flag team that just got ranked top-notch.
Days like today are a professional feast for a seasoned university worker like me.
I think I was 13 when I heard Bob Dylan singing for the first time. This moment struck me and sticks with me until now. It made me to learn to play guitar. I made me to switch from accordion to a set of Hohner blues harmonicas. I started singing English lyrics with not understanding a word at all. But the lyrics felt more appropriate for me than those of “Kennst du die Berge, die Berge Tirols” or the ones of a certain Roy Black who was popular back then. Dylan’s lyrics just felt right, and it took me time, a long time to grasp some of their meanings.
I saw a newborn baby with wild wolves all around it
I saw a highway of diamonds with nobody on it
I saw a black branch with blood that kept drippin’
I saw a room full of men with their hammers a-bleedin’
I saw a white ladder all covered with water
I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken
I saw guns and sharp swords in the hands of young children
For a while I tried to play the streets with Dylan songs. Of course, all I got was laughter. Dirty laughs most of the time, my parent’s generation shaking heads. “Beim Hitler hätte es das nicht gegeben” was a comment quite often heard.
Meanwhile, half a century has passed. Bob Dylan’s songs are still with me, and my brain still tries to understand the meaning of most of his lyrics. But my ears and my heart have no difficulties at all.
I heard the sound of the thunder that roared out a warning
I heard the roar of a wave that could drown the whole world
I heard one hundred drummers whose hands were a-blazin’
I heard ten thousand whisperin’ and nobody listenin’
I heard one person starve, I heard many people laughin’
I heard the song of a poet who died in the gutter
I heard the sound of a clown who cried in the alley
As always, I still find comfort in taking a guitar and a blues harp and lose myself in one of Dylan’s songs. This assists me in keeping track in life against all odds in today’s society.
Yesterday, Bob Dylan got the Nobel prize for literature.
Let me finish this blog with a modified quote from Dylan: “I am only kcposch if I want to be kcposch; most of the time I am just myself.”
We are proud to announce the winners of this year’s “Student Research Excellence Awards“:
- Christian Kollmann
- Daniel Kales
- Christian Ertler
- Michael Schwarz
- Moritz Lipp
- Klaus Wagner
- Manuel Jelinek
(on the photo above from left to right).
In addition, a special award goes to “LosFuzzys”. More on LosFuzzys will come in an extra post.
We selected these 7 students not only for their excellent work within their Bachelor Thesis project or Master Thesis project, but also for their success in publishing their results at major international conferences.
By awarding students for excellent results we not only want to express our appreciation for the work of students, but would like to encourage others to follow suit. The achievements should exemplify that it is well possible to hit extraordinary top-notch levels in research within all the ordinary course work that needs to be done to finish some curriculum.
Do you wonder how to maximize your chances to get your own Student Research Excellence Award? A good starting point for getting this award in 2017 or the year after is to start research within a Bachelor Thesis project at IAIK. Right now we put together next semester’s participants for “Bachelor@IAIK 2017“. Get out your intellectual guns and aim high.
As every year, we are going to award students for their excellent work at IAIK during 2016.
Join us on Friday, Dec. 2nd, 12:00, at IAIK’s foyer, Inffeldgasse 16a, ground floor, for the award ceremony.
By awarding students, we emphasize that we care about trying to be excellent.
The ceremony will be embedded in the presentation of next year’s edition of “Bachelor@IAIK”. In case you want to know more about “Bachelor@IAIK 2017”, you should not miss our presentation on December 2nd.
If you are not so inclined with future events — here are some links to past events for you: