The jury was left with a hard choice: Around 160 female graduates from 25 countries competed this time for Deutsche Telekom's Women's STEM Award 2021. Now the decision has been made. Hira Siddiqui emerged as this year's overall winner.
Overall winner: Hira Siddiqui. The 25-year-old's master's thesis at TU Dresden is 'Credentials as a Service (CaaS). It's about a cloud service for self-souvereign identity, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises, online stores as well as bicycle rental companies. These would simply purchase this solution and issue online credentials to their customers without having to maintain an infrastructure themselves. 'I'm completely impressed by you master thesis. An important topic for humans beings and so for our industry,' said Claudia Nemat in her laudation. 'A big applause for your brilliant master thesis.'
Cyber Security: Jana Eisoldt, University of Magdeburg. Bachelor thesis: 'Secure Commissioning of IoT Devices'. During commissioning, devices in the Internet of Things (IoT) can be easily attacked. Jana Eisoldt has developed a new, secure commissioning protocol that uses the light-emitting diode of IoT devices to transmit a self-generated key. This key is captured by the user's smartphone camera and used to encrypt network credentials. Left: Moderator Tijen Onaran.
Cloud: Susanne Rothmund, TU Berlin. Master's thesis: 'Scaling Criteria for Edge Computing'. Edge computing is about fast data processing in the network close to the users - not in distant data centers. The work examines different edge computing characteristics. In addition, categories of scaling criteria and constraints in the edge context are examined in detail.
Cyber Security: Tanja Wildner, TU Darmstadt. Master's thesis: 'Applicability of IoT Security Frameworks as Guidelines for Penetration Testing'. Tanja Wildner's thesis is dedicated to penetration testing in the Internet of Things (IoT). Penetration tests are comprehensive security tests of networks or computers. The research conducted showed that corresponding checklists for this in their current form are not suitable for beginners to conduct such tests.
Artificial Intelligence: Adna Bliek, University of Groningen, Netherlands & Umeå University, Sweden. Master's thesis: 'Backchanneling in Human-Robot Interaction.' Adna Bliek studied empathic behavior - nodding, listening - in robot/artificial intelligence (AI) interactions with humans. 'Backchanneling' is a common and important behavior in human-to-human interactions, where listeners indicate active listening with nods and 'Ahhs' etc. The study explores in experiments whether such behavior also exists in human-AI interactions, how it can be triggered and reinforced.
Networks of the Future: Hannah Brunner, University of Graz, Austria. Master thesis: 'Bringing Cross-Technology Communication to Life: Implementation of a Gateway-Free Smart Home using Off-The-Shelf Devices'. The landscape of home networks is characterized by incompatibility and proprietary technologies, leading to either customer frustration or siloed markets. Hannah Brunner's solution enables interoperability between IoT standards and today's most prevalent wireless technology: WiFi. This avoids additional devices for interworking. Right: Tiana Trumpa from the jury. She received the Women's STEM Award herself in 2015 and then started as a trainee at the company. Today she is XR Innovation/Team Lead - Technology & Innovation at Deutsche Telekom.
Special Award, Networks of the Future: Chathurangi Ahangama, The Open University of Sri Lanka, Bachelor Thesis: 'Design of a transmitter and a receiver for audio and music applications using light fidelity technology (Li-Fi)'. Light is an electromagnetic wave and a consistent next step to using a higher and wider spectrum for transmission in telecommunications. Chathurangi Ahangama has identified the right use case that fits the proven capabilities of this technology: low radiation, sufficient capacity, reliability and range.
This is what the coveted award looks like.
Deutsche Telekom, the student magazine 'audimax' and the 'MINT Zukunft schaffen' initiative have been presenting the award since 2014. MINT graduates from all over the world can submit their final theses on strategic growth fields. The focus is on the cloud, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, cyber security and networks of the future. On the jury: Anna-Lena Bruné, Caren Klingbeil, Jan Hofmann, Frank Strecker, Lena Simons, Tiana Trumpa and Thomas Tschersich from Telekom and Daniel Breitinger from the industry association Bitkom. The patron is Claudia Nemat, Member of the Board of Management for Technology & Innovation at Telekom.
It is always exciting anew. And always moving. Huge joy at the winnings, and contagious enthusiasm for STEM: For the eighth time, Telekom presented its awards for the final theses of talented female graduates. MINT stands for mathematics, information technology, natural sciences and technology.
The aim of the awards: to highlight role models and, above all, to get more women interested in these subjects. I had the privilege of interviewing this year's overall winner for telekom.com. It was a long and, for me, very interesting conversation in which I again learned a lot. In my eyes, Hira Siddiqui is just such a role model. The 25-year-old already completed her bachelor's degree in Pakistan, then her master's degree at the TU Dresden. Her topic: credentials as a service (CaaS). She loves software and blockchain and is fascinated by the fact that the best digital developments can reach an audience of millions. Get to know her and her topic better in the interview!
Sure, as a man I'm out in terms of award, also my education had nothing to do with STEM. But I've been in a technical industry for a long time now - and the topic of women in STEM professions touches me. Because after many conversations, their barriers to entry are becoming increasingly clear to me. Not everyone finds it easy to enter what used to be male domains, to bring in their perspective. I also find that difficult in some circles, but I don't think it's comparable here.
Diverse view needed for human-centered technology
Perhaps there are certain codes that boys are given from home and from an early age? Codes that make them more confident, especially among their peers? Codes that carry over into their professional lives? Take start-ups, for example, which apply for venture capital in front of investors. Among investors, double standards are applied, Alexander Hirschfeld, head of research at the German Start-up Association, tells the FAZ: 'Women are perceived differently in the process of pitching, of presenting their start-up: While men who go a little further out on a limb are often described as courageous or willing to take risks, women are more likely to be attributed with inexperience or naivety in such situations.' Statistics show what this leads to: 70 percent of startups in Germany are run by men. Another question is whether it is really accepted among women that they also fill the role of mother in addition to their professional role. Or that they are addressed far too little with STEM topics from an early age, from the toy industry to job ads and the media? What's likely is this: there are multiple reasons why women are underrepresented in STEM subjects and professions in many countries. Yet, Hira aptly says, the brains are the same after all.
Tech companies like Telekom can't afford such hurdles for women, either on the board or among employees. We're committed to human-centered technology - #HumancenteredTechnology - and it's not the result of homogeneous groups, but of diverse people in a team. Artificial Intelligence (AI), for example: 'Hardly any technology reflects us creators, us humans so much as AI. Our data, experiences, thinking but also our prejudices. Therefore ist is so important to have female STEM talents who take care of that topic, think about it and develop interesting solutions', emphasized Claudia Nemat, our Chief Technology & Innovation Officer, as she congratulated all the winners. She is a physicist and patron of the Deutsche Telekom Women MINT Award. Mixed teams are not only important at Deutsche Telekom. Just look at the universe: Just 65 women among the 560 people who have already been up there, starting with Yuri Gagarin exactly 60 years ago. Swiss Radio and Television (SRF) puts it in an exemplary way with regard to research in space: 'This means that studies - in medicine, for example - are carried out on the average man. The resulting data is then also applied to women - with sometimes fatal consequences when we think about the dosage of medicines.'
In my job, I often talk to female software and artificial intelligence specialists, inventors, engineers, and enthusiasts who want to change the world. This has changed my perspective. Their enthusiasm infected me, and I too take away a message for conversations with younger people in private circles: Look around at what the world has to offer you. Don't exclude anything from the outset. Claudia Nemat often appeals to everyone at our company to remain curious, and she summed it up at the awards ceremony as well: 'Curiosity is so much at the core what drives us humans.' Also role models are so important in this. Here's another role model from the awards ceremony, among all the other honorees: Chathurangi Ahangama from Sri Lanka, awarded the special prize for participants from emerging countries. She created an exciting application for 'Li-Fi,' or light as a transmission medium in telecommunications - specifically, a working system for music and other audio transmissions. It makes people take advantage of the properties of light: low radiation, sufficient capacity, reliability and range. Exciting.