Writing the bachelor thesis at ISIT - An interview with David Westerhoff, winner of the main prize of the Ernst August Goettsche Memorial Foundation. As a student of electrical engineering at Kiel University of Applied Sciences, David wrote his final thesis at Fraunhofer ISIT on the topic of "Electrothermal instability of power MOSFETs" and reports here on his experiences.
Why did you decide to write your bachelor thesis together with Fraunhofer ISIT?
I have always been very interested in microelectronics, not only in what a component does, but also in how it works. Also the possibility to get an insight into research motivated me to join ISIT.
How does it work to write a thesis at ISIT? How is it divided between practice and theory?
You work your way into the subject matter, think about your goals and set milestones, which are then implemented in regular consultation with your supervisor. In terms of the division between theory and practice, my thesis was rather theory-heavy. I had to make some measurements and also maintain the measuring station, but overall the time I spent in the lab for the thesis was manageable. I did the very largest part in office work. For theses at ISIT, the ratio of lab to office is healthily balanced and is also somewhat at the discretion of the student as to what they feel like doing. You have an influence on the choice of topics and if you are more in the mood for practical work, you can, for example, develop a measuring station yourself and set it up in the lab. Conversely, you can also concentrate more on theory.
What tasks did you have here during that time?
I performed various measurements on power MOSFETs and other power electronic transistors and created simulations. I was also involved in the optimization and evaluation of measurement methods.
If measurements were due for a project in the department and I just had time then, the measurements were assigned to me as a task by my supervisor.
How did you find your thesis topic?
I was already confronted with the topic on my first day of my internship, which directly interested me. Then I was soon involved in the measurements within this project, and as a result I also quickly became familiar with the topic. Then it was clear to me pretty quickly that I would do my thesis in it.
What were the most valuable moments in your professional life?
At various points during my time at ISIT, I had a small sense of achievement, which was fun. Of course, it was special that the professor suggested directly in the colloquium that I submit my bachelor's thesis for the Ernst August Goettsche Memorial Foundation Award. That is a moment that one remembers fondly.
What role did your supervisors play in your thesis?
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Harald Jacobsen from the University of Applied Sciences made me aware of ISIT in the first place, since I live in Kiel and it is a bit further away, it was not on my radar at first when looking for an internship. My thesis supervisor at ISIT, Dr.-Ing. Wissam Hamad, offered me an insight into scientific work and gave me useful tips and food for thought while I was working on my thesis. He also motivated me to face certain challenges. For that matter, he was not only a supervisor during this time, but also a mentor.
Are you considering writing your master's thesis with ISIT as well?
Yes, that is definitely the plan. Thematically, it goes in the same direction again and should build on the research in the bachelor's thesis.
What did you enjoy most during your time as a working student? What do you remember most about that time?
The scientific research gave me a more detailed understanding and deeper insight into technical issues that went beyond the normal content of my studies. I particularly enjoyed being able to apply the newly acquired knowledge with a dash of creativity, i.e. using the interplay of logic and creativity to arrive at solutions to problems.
What tips can you give future working students for their theses?
You should look for a topic that you enjoy and are interested in. You should start early enough and have the confidence to do something.