Six doctoral students graduate only three years after the launch of this interdisciplinary research school
Tübingen/Stuttgart – Just three years after this interdisciplinary Ph.D. program was launched, the International Max Planck Research School for Intelligent Systems (IMPRS-IS) is seeing six of its doctoral students graduate. Ingrid Blaschzyk, Siyavash Haghiri, Steve Heim, Matthias Kümmerer, Brahyam Ponto, and Alonso Marco Valle will be honored at a ceremony following the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems Summer Colloquium on Friday, July 24.
IMPRS-IS is a key element of the Cyber Valley research consortium. The interdisciplinary doctoral program focuses on providing first-class education to the world’s top young researchers in the broad field of intelligent systems. The graduates’ research projects spanned a variety of topics in computer vision, robotics, and machine learning.
“These first six IMPRS-IS graduates have backgrounds ranging from mathematics and computer science to physics and engineering. The sheer breadth of their research clearly demonstrates the potential impact of intelligent systems on society. Whether they choose to continue working toward an academic career, make the jump to industry, or start their own companies, we look forward to seeing how these young scientists influence the future,” says Katherine J. Kuchenbecker, spokesperson of the IMPRS-IS, a faculty member in the school, and Director of the Haptic Intelligence Department at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems.
“I really enjoyed supporting this future generation of scientists and helping shape their career. We are proud of what they have become and wish them all the best for the future,” says Leila Masri, the IMPRS-IS coordinator.
The graduate school brings together the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems (MPI-IS), the University of Tübingen, and the University of Stuttgart. In total, the program counts 56 internationally renowned faculty and associated faculty working at the leading edge of science. Their research fields cover all three of the key areas of intelligent systems, which are commonly described as perception, action, and learning. The approach of offering research opportunities at three nearby institutions has been extremely well received, with doctoral students praising the ease of interaction among scientists from different disciplines.
“I really enjoyed meeting other scholars from different fields of research and seeing what they work on. I came out of my mathematics and stochastic bubble to meet mechanical engineers and roboticists. It was great to interact with scientists in many different disciplines,” says Blaschzyk, whose research project focused on statistically analyzing localized support vector machines (SVMs).
The school unites existing strengths and builds bridges between the three participating institutions. “Before joining IMPRS-IS, I was always a bit disappointed that there is so much interesting AI research going on in Tübingen and Stuttgart, however in so many different institutes and departments that it was very hard to know what research is actually done where and to get in contact with other researchers formally and informally. To me, IMPRS-IS was exactly the central point of contact I was looking for,” says Kümmerer.
Since it was launched in July 2017, IMPRS-IS has gained high visibility within the scientific community. To date, over 2,000 aspiring researchers from around the globe have applied for a spot in the school through its annual recruitment effort; the next application deadline is November 2, 2020. 160 students are currently pursuing their doctorates within IMPRS-IS. This total far exceeds the school’s initial vision of recruiting 100 Ph.D. scholars over the course of its initial six-year grant. At present, IMPRS-IS is one of the largest doctoral programs of the 65 within the Max Planck Society (MPG).
Apart from the initial grant from the Max Planck Society to MPI-IS, IMPRS-IS also receives significant funding from the state of Baden-Württemberg for doctoral education at the Universities of Tübingen and Stuttgart. The scholars are selected in a highly competitive multi-stage process, with an acceptance rate of between five and eight percent. Depending on their background and interests, each scholar has the option of earning their doctoral degree from either the University of Tübingen or the University of Stuttgart.
Hagihiri aptly summarizes the school’s draw, saying “I joined IMPRS-IS because of its excellent academic reputation, the world-renowned faculty and fantastic executive team. And I enjoyed the many opportunities to collaborate with others, and to learn a lot in the bootcamps and workshops.”