Annika’s Journey with the DAP during her Federal Volunteer Service

Meet Annika Jongen, who embarked on a journey with us as part of her Federal Volunteer Service. Over the span of four months, she was part of our team, gaining unique insights into our research. As her engagement with us comes to an end, we sat down with Annika to delve into her experiences and newfound perspectives.

Hello Annika, could you provide a brief introduction of yourself and your journey so far?

Hi, my name is Annika Jongen, I’m 19 years old, and I graduated from high school in June 2022. In September 2022, I started my Federal Volunteer Service at RWTH.

I spent four months each at LLT and CATS, and now I’ve been here at my final station, DAP, since May.

What inspired you to choose the DAP chair at RWTH for your Federal Volunteer Service?

After my high school graduation, I wasn’t sure yet about what I wanted to study, I was drawn to so many subjects and couldn’t make a definite decision. So, I chose to take a “break” from regular studying and spend a year doing the Federal Volunteer Service at RWTH Aachen University. They provided me with a list of participating institutes and chairs, and I chose the ones that seemed most interesting from my perspective.

Before starting my volunteer service, I couldn’t really grasp what “Additive Manufacturing” was all about. But as I delved into the topic and learned more about the chair, I found it quite intriguing and wanted to learn more.

At DAP, I was particularly fascinated by the diverse applications of Additive Manufacturing. I found it really exciting to see research happening in so many areas that could make a significant difference in the future.

Could you share the tasks and responsibilities that have become a part of your journey here?

I mainly worked on programming tables using VBA to make them more user-friendly and feature-rich for day-to-day operations. But I also assist with tasks in the lab and learn a lot about materialography in the process.

How have your interactions with the researchers enriched your experience?

Personally, I find it very interesting to get a peek “behind the scenes.” Back in school, I couldn’t really imagine myself being comfortable in a research environment. But through working with the researchers, I realized that my understanding of research was incomplete, and I actually find the work quite fascinating.

Do you already know what you want to do after your Federal Volunteer Service?

Yes, I want to study Medical Engineering at FH Aachen University starting in October. I’ve always had a strong interest in medical technology and had considered it as a potential field of study. During my volunteer service, I realized that I genuinely want to pursue this path. I also had the opportunity to meet people connected to this field in each of the institutes I worked at, giving me a glimpse into the practical side of medical technology. In school, I did study medical technology for half a year, but that was naturally limited to theoretical knowledge. Now, I know that I’m interested in both the theoretical and practical aspects of medical engineering.

Do your experiences at DAP help you with your decision-making?

After my first four months of volunteer service, I was already quite sure that I wanted to study medical engineering. Working at DAP solidified my decision, and I’m now looking forward to starting my studies in October. But, at DAP, I certainly learned that engaging with people from different disciplines is essential for achieving the best possible results.

What would you tell others who are considering doing a Federal Volunteer Service at the DAP chair?

I would definitely encourage them to do a Federal Volunteer Service at DAP. I’ve found that such service contributes a lot to personal development. I’ve seen this in myself and heard it from those around me. So, if someone is interested in natural sciences and engineering but isn’t sure about their study path, it’s very helpful to get a taste of the areas that intrigue them. This can make decision-making about the future path easier. They might even discover that they’re more suited for vocational training than a degree, if they prefer the practical aspects they experience during the volunteer service. I can certainly say that DAP welcomes you with open arms, and every day is enjoyable and fulfilling to work here.

Annika Jongen

Image 1: Annika Jongen

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