UPB stu­dent Jan­ina Schaa re­ceives Emer­iti Prize 2023

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A thirst for knowledge and academic curiosity, a desire to spend time abroad and outstanding academic achievements - these are the criteria that our Emeriti Award winners must fulfil. This year, Janina Schaa's commitment stood out in particular - she is the 2023 award winner. She completed her bachelor's degree in technomathematics with a focus on mechanical engineering in 2023 and is currently studying for a master's degree in mathematics. However, she discovered her passion for numbers long before her time as a student at UPB: she won the A-level maths prize at school and her interest in engineering was sparked during a stay abroad in the USA. Today, maths continues to fascinate her even outside the lecture theatre - as a student assistant, the prizewinner accompanies other students through the world of algebra and analysis.

Technomathematics degree programme combines a passion for mathematics and engineering

Would you rather do without a calculator or social media for a year? The answer to this question is clear for Janina Schaa: "Social media," she says as if shot from a pistol. After all, maths is her hobby - and has been since school. Unlike many of her classmates at the time, she "just dared to try maths", says the Master's student. During a stay abroad in the USA, she then got a taste of engineering, as her host father worked in this field. Back in Germany, Janina Schaa was looking for a combination that would unite both her love of maths and her new-found passion for engineering. She found what she was looking for - a bachelor's degree in technomathematics with a specialisation in mechanical engineering.

Outstanding bachelor's thesis on wave equations

The prizewinner completed her Bachelor's degree in 2023 with a thesis on wave equations, in which she describes the behaviour of waves. As a maths expert, Janina Schaa knows exactly what she is talking about, but thanks to her experience as a student assistant, she is able to present this complex topic in a simplified way - using the example of "stone skipping" in water: if a stone is thrown into a calm water surface, circular waves with an infinite echo are created. Sound waves are different, "because they are three-dimensional waves that propagate in all spatial directions." However, Janina Schaa's outstanding achievement is not just that she has analysed and defined the properties of this topic, but that she has developed a fundamental solution to the wave equation. Instead of solving the equation again for each configuration, the fundamental solution is used. This works like a key to analyse the system with different boundary conditions. This saves time and allows flexibility in modelling.

Soccer as a balance to university

When the native Ostfriesin isn't solving complex equations, she's on the football pitch: ever since she was a child, she has appreciated this sporty balance to the daily stress of studying and university. "The good thing about team sports is the fixed training times, so I can always get out and clear my head," she says. Even during her time in the USA, Janina Schaa didn't let go of her passion for football and was on the pitch every week as an assistant coach for a high school team. "I filmed a lot of match situations and analysed the techniques," says the award winner, looking back on this instructive time, during which she gained new experiences as an assistant coach. And what will happen next? "I'll wait and see, but I could very well imagine doing a doctorate after my Master's degree."

The Emeriti Prize is a scholarship donated by professors - emeritus or retired - of Paderborn University for a student of the university. The prize has been awarded since 2011. To date, 15 UPB students have received this award.

Photo (Paderborn University, Alexandra Dickhoff): Emeriti Prize 2023: Janina Schaa, a Master's student on the Mathematics degree programme, is the winner of this year's scholarship donated by former professors at Paderborn University. She impresses with her excellent academic achievements and her commitment during her studies.
Photo (Janina Schaa): The high school stay abroad during her time at school in Indiana (USA) has shaped the award winner. A semester abroad is planned for the 2024/25 winter semester.