Visit of the Federal President with focus on structural change

"This is a real treasure that you are guarding here together for the region," said German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier on May 11, 2023, at the Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus-Senftenberg (BTU) about the university and some of its outstanding projects that he had come to know at the Senftenberg site.

For three days, from May 9 to 11, the Federal President had moved his official residence to Lusatia and conducted his official business from Senftenberg in Brandenburg. In this context, he was a guest on May 11, on the BTU campus.

BTU President Prof. Dr. Gesine Grande and Vice President for Academic Affairs Prof. Dr. Peer Schmidt welcomed the distinguished guest and the mayor of Senftenberg, Andreas Pfeiffer, to the Technikum, a modern laboratory facility. Here, scientists reported on their research and projects with significance for structural change in Lusatia. First, Ariane Derks, managing director of the Lausitz Science Park, presented this extensive industrial and research project located in Cottbus and Senftenberg, whose major topics are oriented toward the four profile lines of the BTU: "Energy transition and decarbonization", "Health and life sciences", "Global change and transformation processes" and "Artificial intelligence and sensor technology" as innovation focal points link science and industry.

Insights into BTU research

The Federal President then followed the researchers' remarks with great interest and engaged in dialogue with them. For example, Prof. Dr. Jörg Acker, Department of Physical Chemistry, explained the recycling of lithium-ion batteries, the recovery and reuse of battery materials.

Prof. Dr. Peer Schmidt, Department of Inorganic Chemistry, presented the project "PCM-Screening-2 Evaluation of salt systems for use as PCM: thermodynamic modeling and experimental methods", which is being worked on in a project network in the 7th Energy Research Program of the German government. Prof. Dr. Jan-Heiner Küpper, Department of Molecular Cell Biology, and Prof. Dr. Ingolf Petrick, Department of Thermodynamics, explained their research related to microalgae as food, for biomedical agents and for decarbonization. For example, Prof. Küpper presented the project "AVantiLT - Arthrospira platensis as raw material for the development of new drugs against cancer - validation of the cytostatic principle on liver tumor cells". Prof. Petrick elaborated on the project "Mixotrophic cultivation process for the production of Galdieria and Arthrospira biomass using brewery wastewater".

Prof. Dr. Katrin Scheibner, Department of Enzyme Technology, showed how the research network "StStG Coal: Next Generation Drugs" (NGD) uniquely addresses biobased technology developments, biomedical research and sustainable bioeconomy in order to successfully implement structural change in the former coal region.

Here, science topics are brought to schools

Subsequently, on his way across the BTU campus, Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier stopped at the pavilion of the mobile school lab Science on Tour. The Vice President for Studies and Teaching, Prof. Dr. Peer Schmidt, presented the laboratory of the "Center for Student Recruitment and Preparation - College", which brings research directly to schools. Students* presented the experiment "Quality Control of Tissue - Histological Staining of Cartilage Tissue" to detect osteoarthritis, which was developed together with Prof. Dr. Ursula Anderer, Department of Cell Biology.

Focus on transformation in Lusatia

The head of state signed the guest book of BTU Cottbus-Senftenberg. "Transformation in Lusatia" was then the topic of a round of talks with BTU President Prof. Dr. Gesine Grande, scientists and students of the university, and partners of the BTU from science and industry. The focus was on the forward-looking cooperation project "Lusatia Science Park". Among other things, questions of the energy turnaround, securing skilled workers, and the food supply of the future were discussed. In this context, the BTU president addressed problems of health care and nursing, which the BTU is helping to solve with its current range of courses and research.

In his concluding statement on his local time in Senftenberg, the seventh "Local Time Germany," Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said, "I'm glad we chose Senftenberg for the local time." Of course, he said, the challenges in terms of structural change were great, but he noted great dedication and commitment everywhere. The city has completely reinvented itself over a process of 40, 50 years and has a high quality of life, he said. In addition to tourism, he said, business and industry are also important. He highlighted the large number of cultural institutions in the city and was touched by his visit to the new Senftenberg stage and the performance of a play that took the war in Ukraine as its theme.

The Federal President emphasized,"We must not at all underestimate the opportunities that lie in the fact that this city knows a technical university within its own borders, a technical university that has two locations in Cottbus and Senftenberg and where we have seen many examples today of the innovations that are being developed here that will contribute to the future shaping of this region. All of this is urgently needed. That's what research and work is being done on this site."


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On the Senftenberg BTU campus (from right): the BTU President Prof.Gesine Grande, the Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the BTU Vice President for Studies and Teaching Prof. Peer Schmidt, the Mayor of the City of Senftenberg Andreas Pfeiffer. © BTU, Ralf Schuster
Presentation of the Lausitz Science Park by its managing director Ariane Derks. Copyright: © Bernd Brundert
The Federal President in conversation with researchers. © BTU, Ralf Schuster
Presentation of current research projects. © BTU, Ralf Schuster
Prof. Katrin Scheibner explains her current research project to the Federal President. © BTU, Ralf Schuster
The Federal President and Prof. Peer Schmidt at the pavilion of the mobile school laboratory Science on Tour. © Bernd Brundert
Entry in the guest book of the BTU. © Bernd Brundert
The participants of the discussion round "Transformation in Lusatia". © Bernd Brundert
The Federal President during his final statement on his local time in Senftenberg and his visit to the BTU. Photo: BTU, Ralf Schuster
Farewell on campus. © BTU, Ralf Schuster