Student Initiatives Day 2022.
AStA der RWTH Aachen

Get Involved – It's Fun and Really Makes a Difference!

The University and the Association of Friends Support the Student Initiatives

“Involvement in student initiatives is an important element for fostering students’  personal development and their learning journey in addition to their actual course of study. By engaging in such initiatives, students can further develop their skills and abilities, apply the knowledge they have acquired, and at the same time, strengthen their ability to work in interdisciplinary and sometimes international teams. It also allows them to build and broaden their professional, methodological, and personal skills. The fact that often students from very different disciplines and with varied interests work together offers the perfect conditions for exciting approaches and ideas to emerge, and these initiatives can end up making important contributions to society. We always strive to contribute to a positive learning atmosphere here at RWTH.”

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Elisabeth Clausen, Head of the Institute for Advanced Mining Technologies.
Univ.-Prof. Dr.-Ing. Elisabeth Clausen, Head of the Institute for Advanced Mining Technologies.
Martin Braun

At RWTH Aachen University, students volunteer in more than 100 student-run initiatives in a broad range of different areas, such as science and technology or careers and professional life. They operate like small businesses: With a board, administration, and fundraising. This is where young researchers, tinkerers, and – above all – doers come together to expand their knowledge, social skills, soft skills, understanding of technology, and their ability for entrepreneurial thinking all in an atmosphere that promotes teamwork.

Practice Complements Teaching

The fact that these student initiatives also serve to improve the learning environment is confirmed by Professor Aloys Krieg, Vice-Rector for Teaching and Learning at RWTH: “What they learn from us is one thing, but the fact that our students can also immediately put this knowledge to use in a team, researching and trying things out together, is quite another. Both are important in teaching and learning:

Having the knowledge and applying it. This also includes making mistakes and learning from them, preparing for meetings and testing their mettle against others.”

This is why many of these student initiatives regularly participate in competitions. Student initiatives that have been active for a while feature constantly changing groups: New students arrive, and others graduate and leave the University to start their careers. Nevertheless, the team is always focused on the subject at hand: Knowledge is passed on and added to through the influx of new members to the team.
RWTH Aachen University also awards prizes for outstanding project ideas, in several categories: best innovations, international topics, and volunteer work. “Being recognized feels good and helps motivate our students,” emphasizes Prof. Krieg. “This is our way of letting the young people know: Hey! We see you, we like what you do. Keep it up!” In light of the global challenges we face and our responsibility towards society, we also aim to integrate more interdisciplinary activities in our courses of study by encouraging this type of multidisciplinary collaboration.

Univ.-Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Aloys Krieg, Vice-Rector for Teaching and Learning at RWTH.
Peter Winandy

Support is Needed

Often the funding needs are quite high, especially for technical subjects. The groups also need places to meet and work, such as workshops, rehearsal rooms, storage facilities, offices, or study spaces. The Collective Incubator e.V. or the umbrella organization of student technical associations, TechAachen e. V., can help with these matters. Student associations can also receive grants from within the University. RWTH Rector Professor Ulrich Rüdiger receives such inquiries: “I am pleased to see a large number of funding requests from our student initiatives. Especially when a convincing concept is presented to me that benefits many students.” As deputy chairman of the “proRWTH” funding association, Rüdiger helps decide how the available funds are used.

“Last year alone, we were able to support over 400 students in 15 student initiatives with a total of €35,000,” Rüdiger sums up. “These funds are invaluable! We receive them from proRWTH members, through generous donations from our alumni and alumnae, and from interested companies. I would like to thank you all for your support!”  

Everyone can help – whether you’re a member or not, whether you’re a company or a private citizen. Some students decide to become members of proRWTH to give something back to their fellow students directly.


Helping with Time and Expertise

Many scientists support these initiatives with their time and expertise. Professor Elisabeth Clausen from the Institute for Advanced Mining Technologies explains her reasons for supporting the cause like this: “It's a joy to see students continually grow and expand their abilities as they work on their project and to witness both the successes and the challenges. In addition, it's of course great and interesting to see which new ideas emerge over time and to get a front-row seat to this innovation process.” Their extracurricular commitment not only helps students in their studies but also their careers. Early in their studies, they come into contact with executives from business and industry, negotiate sponsorship agreements, exchange ideas about innovations, or initiate cooperative ventures. Companies also profit because it puts them in touch with their future skilled workers. “I can only encourage everyone to get involved in a student initiative. You can expand your network to include people with similar interests, and you benefit from a high level of practical relevance while working on projects. You also have the opportunity to continuously build your knowledge and skills and work on exciting topics with other motivated team members. Last but not least, it is an important element in both your personal development and professional career,” Clausen confirms.

Anyone who would like to sponsor, support, or make a donation (for a specific purpose) can contact:
proRWTH – Freunde und Förderer der RWTH Aachen e.V. | Email:

– Author: Christine Cox