UniSysCat colloquium

The Cluster of Excellence regularly (approx. every two weeks) invites renowned international scientists to give a talk to its faculty. Of course, EC2/BIG-NSE students are more than welcome to attend the talks that tie into their research area. A list of upcoming colloquia can be found here. The list of all colloquia held in 2019 is here. A list of older colloquia (2007-2018 on the UniCat website) is here. Since its foundation in 2007, UniCat has held more than 280 high level scientific talks that could be attended by our PhD students (an average of almost 22 per year)!

EC²/BIG-NSE retreat

Once a year, EC2/BIG-NSE students are invited to go on a retreat together for two days to a very nice hotel two hours from Berlin, at a very nice location on a lake.

All PhD students who started their PhD more than half a year previously are asked to report on the progress of their work to a mixed audience containing professors, postdocs and other EC2/BIG-NSE PhD students.

The relaxed atmosphere prevailing at the retreat encourages scientific reflection and the talks are usually followed by very fruitful scientific discussions.

After dinner, a nice social evening usually ensues, including paddling on or swimming in the lake, weather permitting.

EC²/BIG-NSE alumni meeting

Occasionally, usually every two years, alumni of the program are invited to take part in an alumni meeting at the Villa Bell.
Every year, selected alumni are asked to present themselves, talk about their past experience as PhD students at EC2/BIG-NSE, about any difficulties they encountered looking for a job after graduation, and about the challenges they encountered in their new positions.

The program of the meeting usually begins with a few presentations of this kind, followed by a panel discussion in which all alumni in attendance participate. In order to further intensify possible interactions between alumni and current students, several coffee breaks are planned between the different program segments. The day ends with a buffet dinner, providing an opportunity to create further bonds.

For example, here is the program of the 2017 Alumni Meeting, when 19 alumni returned to the school to participate.

In 2018 all ten members of the WS2008 batch made the effort to come back in order to see each other and interact with the new students.

This meeting regularly helps current students find new job ideas (and provides them support when applying for them).

Podium discussion at the Alumni Meeting 2013

Batch WS2008 alumni happy to meet again

EC²/BIG-NSE graduation ceremony

EC2/BIG-NSE is not legally entitled to award doctoral degrees. Thus, before starting their PhD, all EC2/BIG-NSE students have to enroll at one of the participating UniSysCat universities (TU, HU, FU, UP: see details here), the choice depending on the supervisors they choose for their PhD work. Before receiving the doctoral degree, they have to fulfill all requirements of the corresponding university's by-laws (e.g. here are the by-laws of TU Berlin in German, and here is a non-legally binding translation in English). At the end, they receive a doctoral degree from one of the universities.

In addition to the legal degree, successful participation in the program is documented by an EC2/BIG-NSE certificate. This certificate is delivered during a graduation ceremony in which all alumni who have not yet been recognized receive the certificate. The ceremony usually starts with the managing director of the program showing a few slides and providing an update on the career paths of senior alumni (this part gets longer every time ;-). Then, a few more slides documenting the activities of new graduates at EC2/BIG-NSE, are projected. Finally, every single new graduate is called to the stage and presented with an individual certificate. During the ceremony, the new graduates wear a PhD cap and robe gown as well as a BIG-NSE ribbon bearing the program's original color ("bordeaux red").

The graduation ceremony is usually held every two years. The participants are mainly current PhD students of the program and a few supervisors. Family and friends are also invited.

BIG-NSE certificates