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«Matwis Seminar - Page 1 1. Introduction 1.1 Scope of the Seminar 1.1.1 Goals - What you should learn What You Really Should Learn What things should ...»

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1. Introduction

1.1 Scope of the Seminar

1.1.1 Goals - What you should learn

1.1.2 How it is Done

Matwis Seminar - Page 1

1. Introduction

1.1 Scope of the Seminar

1.1.1 Goals - What you should learn

What You Really Should Learn

What things should you learn in this seminar that you don't know already? Well, there are several items:

Learn how to give a presentation - a scientific presentation, to be precise.

You must have done this before in High School, and you may have given famous talks at birthday parties, in your....

(insert the club of your choice) club, or wherever - but odds are that you have not yet given a scientific talk. This means that you must learn how to do that.

Learn how to write a scientific paper.

We know that you have written a lot of essays in your High School days. We suspect that you weren't all that good at it - like many of the engineers and scientists that preceded you (including possibly the Prof). The bad news it that the average engineer or scientist will have to do a lot of writing as part of the job. The good news is that whatever you write will not be judged by your German or English teacher anymore, but by me - a fellow engineer and scientist.

Learn how to research the facts that go into your presentation and the paper that goes with it.

In contrast to the "humanities" (or "Geisteswissenschaft", as the call it in Germany), it is not good enough that you declare your personal opinion to be the benchmark (as we call it), and that the opinions voiced in the books that you have happened to read and remember are simply wrong. Sorry - but you must actually know the facts and refer to them in your paper.

Learn how to handle some of the technicalities (most of which you should already know, by the way), but also a bit about the idiosyncracies of the scientific presentation culture..

Learn some (minor) topic of Materials Science real well

- because that's what your presentation will be all about.

As a minor topic on the side, you will get a first glimpse of the fact that science is made (and sold) by humans, with the vagaries and irrationalities intrinsically connected with this sobering fact of life.

What you Might Learn on the Side There are certain things that no Kiel Prof. of Materials Science will try to pound into your head; your are free to take or leave the opportunities offered. Some topics are English.

It might come as a surprise, but all mature Materials Scientists and Engineers are fluent in English (not counting more or less weird accents). Your choice is to either become fluent too, or not to become a material scientist and engineer. In this course you can practice your English actively and passively, but it's up to you.

Team work.

You cannot possibly know what the term "team work" really means in the world of science and engineering, but you can get a first glimpse here. Consider the options: The IQ (intelligence quotient) of a team can either be higher or lower than the average IQ of its members. In the first case a team can achieve more than the sum of its individual members, in the second case we call the team the.... (insert the name of your favorite idiot committee; e.g. the committee responsible for the German "Rechtschreibreform" the government of..., or any " Akkreditierungsverein").

Engineering teams must be of the former variety (or the team members would face unemployment rather quickly).

How to conduct a scientific discussion, or how one can be extremely critical of each other - and still remain best friends.

–  –  –

In the first part of the seminar we will cover the "theory". Look at chapter 2 - 5 of these Hypernotes to get an idea of what that entails.

In the second part of the seminar we will receive and discuss the presentations and papers of the individuals and groups.

In the final part we will discuss what we have learned and analyze the strong points and the shortcomings of the seminar (and of the participants).

There are some well-defined rules for this seminar as put down in the link. You will understand what these rules mean after we have gone through chapter 2 - chapter 4.

What You Must Do to Get Your ECTS Credit Points

There are a few very simple rules that you must obey if you want your credit points.

1. You must participate. You may miss classes with valid excuses at most twice.

2. You must make a presentation and meet certain minimum requirements for that as stated in what follows.

3. You must hand in a written version of your presentation on deadline, meeting the minimum requirements defined later.


Since this study course is accredited, we must give a grade. This has never been done before for participation in seminars, but sacrifices are necessary if bureaucracy is to flourish.

The way it will be handled is:

You (for individual talks) or your team (for group presentations) will be given a grade for your presentation by the the Prof. in charge (after consulting with his or her assistants). The grade will be based on content and on delivery (and on obeying the rules) Same thing once more for your paper.

The final grade will be the "felt" average of the two individual grades; i.e. it is not calculated but simply determined by "feeling" by the Prof. in charge.

–  –  –

2.1 General Points 2.1.1 What is a Presentation?

2.1.2 Some General Points

2.2. How to Prepare a Presentation 2.2.1 Parts, Intentions and Message 2.2.2 Main part

2.3. Manuscript and Visualization 2.3.1 The Manuscript for the Presentation 2.3.2 Tips for Visualization 2.3.3 Viewgraphs - Some General Rules 2.3.4 Powerpoint - Some General Rules

2.4 The Talk 2.4.1 General Rules

2.5 Check List for Oral Presentations 2.5.1 Check List

–  –  –

What is a presentation? Is it different, for example, from a lecture about the same general topic? How about the difference between a presentation and a political speech (that may win you an election or may start a war)? Are the "presentations" made by sales people what we mean with this word?

Well - yes and no. Let's look how a scientific presentation relates to the examples made.

First, a presentation is never the same as a lecture. The latter is an inducement for you to learn something; it guides you for work that you must do yourself. There is no way that just listening to a lecture will do the job intended. The Professor, by the way, will typically not give a damn about the expectations of his audience. He can't do that if he does what he (or she, of course) is supposed to do. In other words: He has to consider the expectations of his colleagues, your future employers, the "Akkreditierungsanstalt" and so on more than your, the students, expectations.

Nobody, however, expects the audience to a presentation to go home and start work on what they have heard;

even if the audience did not fall asleep. What you must expect, after people heard your presentation, is that they go home and forget pretty much everything of what they have heard. If you want your audience to remember anything, you must rub it in a way that is best suited to the audience you have. Big difference to a lecture!

Of course, there are similarities, too. A lecture or a presentation may only induce you to go to sleep - but that just serves to show that there might be good and not so good lectures or presentations.

So be realistic. Ask anyone four weeks after they had listened to a presentation of Mr. Scientist, what exactly they

remember. The very best you can expect is:

"Mr. Scientist gave a pretty good presentation, but I have to think for a minute about what exactly".

"His point was, I believe, that you will not a get a good grade in the seminar if you don't apply yourself".

"He looked kind of cute". (Don't forget, there is a growing number of female scientists and engineers).

Far more often the reply will be:

"What presentation?" "Oh, you mean the guy who kept mumbling to the blackboard?" "OK, now I remember. He was either for or against the Bachelor - Master system; I don't recall"., Quick! Recall any presentation you heard in the last two years. Yes? Somethings coming up? Good! What do you remember?

See what I mean?

A presentation, once more, is not a lecture. It is also not a kind of (regular) examination. The audience is not trying to find out how much you know.

The (small and highly qualified) audience hasn't asked you: "Mr. Up There, would you tell us - in detail - how to make a good sword?". The audience assumes that you actually not only know what you are presenting, but that you know a hell of a lot more about the subject than you will present in your talk. If all you know is exhausted after you talked about 20 min - 30 min, your presentation will be lousy by definition.

In other words: a presentation is not primarily for your benefit; it's not for demonstrating that you actually did some work in the lab. It's for giving your audience relevant information that it didn't have before.

However, there are times when your presentation will also be used to judge your ability, but never if you actually know your facts.

Let's look at examples.

Your presentation in a "Habilitationsverfahren" or a "Berufungsverfahren" (formal steps on the way to a Professorship in Germany). It's not what you say, but how you picked your topics and presented them. (If the slightest doubt will come up that you actually don't quite know your topic, you're simply out).

The presentation of your research results from your post-doc time at a big company that is considering to hire you (happened to me thrice). The higher-up managers in the audience may take your presentation as one input parameter for judging you.

Your presentation of your project to your Boss (and his buddies) at the company you work for. Your career in the company may depend on that.

Your product presentation at the big convention. If no orders come in, you are in trouble.

–  –  –

"I believe that solar energy will supply 12 % of the electrical power in Germany by 2012" is a clear message, but not science. Who cares about your believes?

"After having analyzed various trends and facts, as pointed out in detail before, I predict that solar energy will supply 12 % of the electrical power in Germany by 2012" is a scientifically correct message, but not ethically acceptable behavior, because, as you know and your audience already suspects, you didn't do the work but just purloined the data of some other researchers.

"After having considered the trends and facts found in.....(give the reference), and juxtaposed them with the completely different point of view as found in numerous publications of the American government and the coal industry, I do follow the prediction that solar energy will supply 12 % of the electrical power in Germany by

2012. Now you're talking science and you do it ethically!

Scientific Presentations vs. Sales Talk Is there a difference, after all, between a scientific presentation and a sales talk?

Well - yes. The difference is that you are a scientist and not a salesman. You want to get your message across, and for that you may use any (ethical) trick known to mankind and salesmen, but you don't give a damn what he audience does with your message. You give them your results and findings, perhaps together with your interpretation. This being science, they don't have to "buy" it, They can try to find flaws in your reasoning (and if they do you humbly admit defeat), or go to the lab and do their own experiments with results that may or may not agree with yours.

Scientific fights may start (more often than you would believe), lasting for years. You can fight back, you can resign, you can change your field, but you never try to convince your opponents with wrong arguments (note that I'm not saying in so many words that this is what salesmen do), because you know that in the end the truth will always win

- it's science, man!

"Hidden" Presentations It was already mentioned above: there might be times when you are giving a presentation without knowing it.

The maybe most important example for a hidden presentation is when your Boss asks you to give him a quick run down about what you are doing. Or maybe he asked you to look into something and present the results in a quick meeting to him and a few others in his office.

Note that he did not ask you to give a presentation in the formal weekly department meeting.

Whatever. Your Boss may or may not have second thoughts about this (like testing you a little), but the way you present whatever you presenting his office or wherever, will influence the way he sees your future.

How do you deal with such a situation? Easy - consider your (one-person) audience. What does your Boss expect from you? How does he like it delivered?

Don't try a formal presentation, handing over nicely collated papers, with a Boss of whom you know that you will never ever been allowed to finish a sentence. Don't start some impromptu improvisation based on some scribbling on the backside of surplus print-outs with a Boss who never interrupts and takes his (or her) time to think about what you said before he talks. And so on.

Think about it. You may not become a scientist, a politician, or whatever requires you to give presentations - but you will not escape some kind of situation as outlined above if you want to get ahead a bit in whatever career you have in mind.

–  –  –

2.1.2 Some General Points

The success of a presentation- however measured - will always depend on two factors:

The factual content (here we discuss only scientific, not political or sociological presentations, so we assume there is content) The packaging Both factors are equally important in a first approximation! Remember: Success = Content · Acceptance and that means that for acceptance = 0, success will be = 0, too - even if you talk about the work that will get you the Noble prize.

Now, as far as content goes, try to recall some presentations that you heard and found good. Most likely two conditions

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