Our mentor for young geniuses

The atmosphere in the room is a mixture of fascination and enthusiasm. A relaxed Dr. Benjamin Kormann sits on the comfortable couch of Syskron’s new office in Regensburg’s city centre. His passion for academic excellence and youthful high-flyers is plain to see. When he begins to talk about his rather unusual hobby, his eyes light up.

“When a 13-year-old presents you with an entirely new mathematical numbering system, although at school he hasn’t even learned yet what a root is, then it leaves you more or less speechless,” opines the likeable IT expert. When does Benjamin interact with up-and-coming mathematicians? Every year, he travels to Munich for two days, to attend the “Young Researchers” event, in order to take a closer look at young people’s academic projects in the fields of mathematics and computer science. As a juror in the regional competition for Upper Bavaria, he gets to co-determine which project is future-viable – and then qualifies for presentation on the state level as well. The supreme discipline of the “Young Researchers” competitions, finally, is the nationwide presentations. But the competitive element is inconsequential in the “Young Researchers” concept – the primary aim is to motivate schoolkids to engage more closely with questions of scientific research.

Clearly, it’s not all that easy to present a project in front of the adult jury members at such a young age. This is why the youngsters are supported in their preparations as effectively as possible. “I see it as a social obligation to foster talented young people as early as possible. It’s great to see that support is being offered by the schools as well,” comments Benjamin. “Even if a project is perhaps not really future-viable, we nonetheless praise the good implementation or give some tips on what could still do with some improvement. The last thing we want is to discourage anyone.”

But how exactly do you come to be co-opted for this sort of task? In the case of our colleague from Syskron, it was thanks to a friend who happened to be a juror: he talked to him about it in 2010 – and just one year later Benjamin was making his debut as a jury member in Munich. The more or less accidental participation has evolved into a hobby that he has embraced wholeheartedly. As head of the ReadyKit team at Syskron, his duties as a juror may not have any direct connection with his day job, but nonetheless he can certainly benefit from it in his everyday work: “I always find these two days a year extremely enriching – the spirit that prevails there is incredibly intoxicating. And it’s fun to see how young people devote themselves to a subject to the point of total immersion.“

He’s already looking forward to the young people’s projects next spring. And Benjamin is just as eager to see the moment when the young researchers’ ideas become marketable, and thus help to shape tomorrow’s future.