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Students Design an Environmentally Friendly Solar Pump

A Solar Pump for Bremen’s Blockland

Teaching & Studies

[BIBA]: Bremer Institut für Produktion und Logistik

**Design and build a pump that can actually be used. Students of the Faculty of Production Engineering will be able to do this in the “Lernfabrik,” the Learning Factory, in the coming semester. The project is located at BIBA and is funded by the Brede Foundation. The idea for the project came from scientist Matthias Burwinkel from the Faculty of Production Engineering. He hopes to offer students the opportunity to develop something practical that can really be used later on.

Here we are at BIBA, the Bremer Institut für Produktion und Logistik GmbH, on the University of Bremen campus. Engineer Dr Matthias Burwinkel is standing in front of a large table in the production hall, on top of which is a model of a water pump. Students of the Faculty of Production Engineering learn how to build such a device themselves. “This is a great example of research-based learning,” says Burwinkel, a postdoctoral researcher at the Faculty of Production Engineering at the University of Bremen and at BIBA.

How are production, logistics and energy generation related?

In the course “Energy-autonomous production and logistics systems,” students of the master’s degree programs in Production Engineering and Engineering and Management help shape the learning process themselves. “Students ask their own questions, they learn to recognize problems and solve them on their own,” explains the engineer. Master student Jonas Hörnschemeyer is a student assistant and is working on the project. “It’s a great way to construct something yourself that will actually be used later.”

The Learning Factory enables application-oriented research-based learning

The Learning Factory makes it possible to implement research-based learning in an application-oriented manner. The learning factory consists of seven mini factories, which are work islands, each with their own production technologies that are supplied in real time by renewable energies such as wind and solar. These mini factories are run by students. The students’ aim is to plan and implement the production of a product from an energy perspective. The project is funded by the Brede Foundation. “Research-based learning doesn’t just mean applying and implementing theory,” explains Burwinkel. “It allows students to transfer the newly developed skills to other contexts and to be encouraged to think outside the box.”

The solar irrigation system – the product for the Learning Factory

The Learning Factory will be implemented for the first time in summer semester 2023. In project teams, students will plan the production of a solar irrigation system to irrigate the breeding grounds of gulls, curlews, and black-tailed godwits in Blockland, a nature reserve on the outskirts of Bremen. However, the project goes much further than just planning, as the students will also actually produce the irrigation systems afterwards. The whole thing becomes a competition, in which the groups measure their success using production indicators and compare them with each other. By the end of the semester, seven systems will be available for the irrigation of the Blockland.

The task for the summer semester evolved from a cooperation with BUND, the German Federation for Environment and Nature Conservation. Ultimately, everyone benefits from the Learning Factory and the resulting solar irrigation systems. “Students are taught new content and methods, and society gains added value from this meaningful irrigation solution. And last but not least, it contributes to the preservation of the flora and fauna in Blockland – in other words, a win–win situation,” says Hörnschemeyer.

Gruppenbild der Lernfabrik im BIBA mit der Brede Stiftung
The Brede Foundation gets regular updates about the project it supports. Jonas Hörnschemeyer, Carsten Elfers, Angelika Elfers, Elisabetha Dorothee Brede, Jürgen Christian Brede, Matthias Burwinkel (from left to right)
© Matej Meza / Universität Bremen

Matthias Burwinkel is looking to the future and considering new tasks for the upcoming events beyond summer semester 2023. “It would be great to turn another idea into an exciting reality with the Learning Factory. True to the motto: By Bremen students for the people of Bremen!”

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