Mentoring and Gender Equality

Within SAOT the Doctoral Candidates (DCs) will work with a high degree of personal responsibility throughout the graduate program. Each candidate will be assigned at least two Mentors who are responsible for advising the DC and who, together with the Principal Investigator (PIs) / Associate Investigator (AIs), represent the mentoring team which is defined already in the supervision agreement for admission (right). The mentoring team supports the DC in designing their own individual educational plans across the Topics according to the Credit Point System regulations.

The research training of the graduates will mainly be executed within a project team within one of the major SAOT topics. Besides the topic-specific educational program, e.g., the international workshops, the monthly get-together is the main joint activity of the team. Each team is instructed by a senior scientist of high international reputation who preferably also represents this topic in the SAOT Executive Committee (EC).

In the supervision of the candidates’ research work the PIs and AIs are supported by a large number of scientific co-workers of the institutes as mentors who have already earned their Dr. degree and who are staying on permanent positions at the university or who are engaged in a postdoctoral qualification phase. More than 50 mentors are currently active within SAOT.

Particular focus is laid on the mentoring of female doctorate candidates and of foreign graduates. International DCs (about 20% of all DCs and more than 50% of the scholarship holders) need additional support in settling down and creating the individual privacy in an unknown social environment.

Female mentoring has a long tradition at FAU and also in the faculties involved in the SAOT program. The special mentoring program for female graduates starts already at the pre-university level and is continued at the university undergraduate level in order to increase the number of female doctorates in technical disciplines and in particular in the SAOT and improves the opportunities for successful professional careers in academia and industry. The activities of the faculty of engineering in the field of gender equality were awarded the Equal Opportunity Prize of the University in December 2005.

SAOT is in connection with the FAU family service as a member of the F3G network.

The participation of international doctorates and of guest professors and instructors in the SAOT program is essential for further improving SAOT´s international visibility. In order to integrate these persons in a personally satisfying way in the given social environment, a continuous nurturing on different levels of personal welfare has been introduced. This starts with help in entering Germany and settling down in Erlangen. The FAU has extensive experiences in this area: the “Welcome Centre” of the Central Office for International Affairs at FAU was identified by the Alexander-von-Humboldt Foundation as one out of the seven most hospitable welcome centres at German universities.

Each international candidate is assigned to a German DC who is responsible for assisting the international student in personal matters for at least half a year. Every PI/AI oversees the special mentoring of the group of these German student-mentors. The international DCs are obliged to learn the German language – courses are offered by the FAU language center. This allows the candidates to get acquainted with their new environment more rapidly and to take over the responsibility for their own welfare faster. This is one of the most important steps to develop the personality of DCs. Married DCs and those with children are offered additional support from the university and the city of Erlangen. The city of Erlangen has assumed the responsibility of guaranteeing a place in a public kindergarten for every child of international DCs (to guarantee this, the Lord Mayor of Erlangen is member of the External Advisory Board). For older children continuous care will be ensured by providing places in appropriate schools, e.g., at the Franconia International School of Erlangen, covering all steps of education, from the Kindergarten up to the International Baccalaureate. The mentoring of foreign students and instructors will be done in close cooperation with the FAU Central Office of International Affairs (Akademisches Auslandsamt) and with the International Office of the Faculty of Engineering which both have extensive experience in this area.

A special mentoring in the international affairs relevant to all SAOT candidates is conducted by the International Students’ Advisor who is part of the administrative staff of SAOT. This advisor organizes, together with the graduates and the PIs/AIs, the recommended research stay abroad and he also supports the candidates in attending international conferences or in the organization of visits to research laboratories of foreign partner institutions and companies.

All students are encouraged to participate in language courses organized by the FAU language center.