Press releases | Education 04.04.2011

Siemens Stiftung student competition: polylactic acid and stinging nettles secure top honors for Carina Tetzlaff and Katharina Vollheyde

Carina Tetzlaff and Katharina Vollheyde from Christian-von-Dohm-Gymnasium in Goslar took home first prize and a check for €20,000 at the Siemens Stiftung student competition in math, science and technology for their project “Study of a fiber-reinforced material made from polylactic acid and nettles.” The jurors awarded second prize to the project “Running on false flax in the tank?” and third prize to “Production of bioethanol using immobilized yeast cells and immobilized yeast enzymes.” A special prize went to a student in Bad Kötzting, Bavaria. The student competition 2011 attracted a total of 116 submissions, with 9 teams qualifying for the final round in Munich. This year’s contestants were asked for their ideas on the topic “Using resources intelligently – working today to conserve for tomorrow.” The guest of honor at tonight’s awards ceremony was Dr. Ludwig Spaenle, Bavarian State Minister for Education and Cultural Affairs and Vice President of the Conference of Ministers for Education and Cultural Affairs.

Rounding off the winners’ podium alongside Carina Tetzlaff and Katharina Vollheyde were Claudia Fischer, Nina Neser and Victor Brosius from Theodor-Heuss-Gymnasium in Ludwigshafen (2nd place / €15,000) and Sabrina Schönberger, Michael Schobesberger and Andreas Bartl from HTL für Lebensmitteltechnologie in Wels, Austria (3rd place / €10,000). Simon Kollross from Benedikt-Stattler-Gymnasium in Bad Kötzting was awarded a special prize (€10,000) for his project “Changes in the forests of Upper Bavaria through the use of wood as a source of energy.” All the winners will also receive assistance in planning their professional and academic futures: students from the Siemens study programs TOPAZ and Yolante will offer guidance as tutors. The prize money is earmarked exclusively for university studies. The instructors who supervised the winning students also receive prize money for their departments. A total of over €100,000 in prize money was given away.

Dr. Stephan Heimbach, Chief Executive Officer of the Siemens Stiftung, is confident that “Werner von Siemens would certainly be impressed by the ingenuity of the young contestants.” Heimbach emphasizes the role of education for each individual and for the future viability of a society. “We founded an alumni network last year so that these creative minds could continue their personal and intellectual exchange even after the competition is over,” adds Ulrike Wahl, Chief Operating Officer of the Siemens Stiftung. The theme of the student competition 2012 has already been announced: “Climate of excellence - new ideas for environmental and climate protection.”

“I applaud the commitment of the Siemens Stiftung to issues of science and technology,” said Dr. Ludwig Spaenle during the awards ceremony. “Our society needs highly skilled scientists. The competition shows the level of quality and enthusiasm that students can bring to bear on issues of our future.”

About the student competition

The annual Siemens Stiftung student competition in math, science and technology is open to upper-level secondary school students in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and at German schools elsewhere in Europe. The competition gives the young students an opportunity to become actively involved in current social policy challenges. The Siemens Stiftung has partnered with the esteemed universities RWTH Aachen, TU Berlin and TU Munich to ensure the scientific quality of project submissions. Another key concern is that the participants receive long-term support. The Siemens Stiftung helps the talented young students define their own future through earmarked prize money, information seminars at the partner universities and tutors who provide individual college counseling. As of 2011, the Siemens Stiftung student competition is also a member of Germany’s National Consortium of Student Competitions (Arbeitsgemeinschaft der bundesweiten Schülerwettbewerbe).

The jurors of this year’s student competition were Dr. Frank Behrendt (TU Berlin), Dr. Matthias Finkbeiner (TU Berlin), Christiane Götz-Sobel (ZDF), Dr. Oliver Junge (TU Munich), Dr. Eva Sandmann (TU Munich), Dr. Armin Schnettler (RWTH Aachen), Dr. Ulrich Schreiber (TU Munich), Dr. Dieter Georg Senk (RWTH Aachen), Dr. Martina Ziefle (RWTH Aachen) and Dr. Felix Ziegler (TU Berlin).


The Siemens Stiftung was established by Siemens AG as a charitable foundation in 2008. It focuses on projects to strengthen civil society, especially in Africa, Latin America and Germany/Europe. The aim is to make a long-term contribution to reducing poverty and improving education. The Stiftung is active in three sectors: helping to expand basic services and improve social structures, initiating educational projects and promoting a reflection on cultural identities and art. A cornerstone of the Stiftung’s work is helping people help themselves. The Siemens Stiftung develops projects in close cooperation with local and international partners and in alliance with the other Siemens foundations in Argentina, Brazil, France, Colombia and the United States.