Green Computing

Study group of the Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes in Leysin.

Evaluation of the Survey

04 September 2016

After two beautiful weeks in Leysin we asked everyone in the group to give us a short feedback in form of yet another survey. In general the surveys proved to be a powerful tool for gathering information and make ideal decisions. We can strongly recommend this form of acquiring information prior to the actual group work.

Now without further ado let’s discuss the results of this survey. The task was to rate the work scheduled by us, done in the group by the students, and our performance. Finally, we also wanted to know if the participants are interested in another meeting - potentially within the next year.

The Survey

In this survey we gathered 18 responses. Thanks for everyone who took the time to give feedback to the study group.

How did you find the order of the presented content?

I think we could have done a little bit better here. What did not go so well is that we had to postpone the crucial “Where does the Power Go - the Physics” talk due to medical reasons. This is, however, no excuse for not having the topic of the transistor being placed in other talks as well. Also some comments deal specifically with the transistor, e.g., “gpio before the c talk and transistors before everything based on gates”. Yes, indeed that would have helped.

Order of the presented content

Nevertheless, most students seemed to be happy with our structure and we are thankful that we managed to match their expectations in this area. Also some of the jumps have been noticed, e.g., “sometimes there were jumps between the topics, e.g. cooling between infiband and ARM”. The whole ARM topic would have been great directly after the processor. I can’t remember whatever reason we had for placing it like we did, but next time this will be changed. Thanks!

How did you like the selection of the presented content?

This one is similar to the previous one, but aims at the content itself, e.g., did you find topic X interesting? Overall, this one performs slightly better, especially since I guess everyone was able to find at least one interesting topic.

Selection of the presented content

Of course, some topics such as the hot-water cooling or the Green 500 did not offer as much material as others. In the future, a slight modification should take care of such inconsistencies.

Rate the appearance of supercomputer vs embedded devices!

Now the question was if the balance of topics was considered to be well done. Overall, we did well here. One thing that could have been served as a better middle-tier (i.e., to bridge the gap between IoT and supercomputers) would have been data centers. This would have been great for the structure and potentially also for the presented content.

Ratio of Supercomputer vs Embedded Devices

All in all we think that even though our selection could have been improved in this area we satisfied everyone topic-wise in one way or the other.

The comments on this one have been pretty interesting as well. Most of the people wished to see more topics in the IoT area or related to the DIY afternoons. One guy noted that supercomputers and original ideas for data centers (e.g., putting one in the ocean - by the way salt water is really problematic for metal or anything electronic for that matter) could have been extended.

Only one comment pointed out that green computing could have been discussed more: “Ich hätte erwartet, dass mehr green computing behandelt wird, da es für mich so schien, als ob es eben immer nur als Randnotiz noch erwähnt wurde.”. We part of share this statement. Some talks could or should have been more focused on the green (or energy) part, however, in the end we designed the agenda to be more like an introduction to the whole topic. Usually, the energy-efficient part requires this introduction to be fully accessible. So in the end this was, unfortunately, a trade-off we had to introduce.

Did you require any knowledge that you did not have?

We already talked about the importance of such surveys. I think due to the initial survey it was possible to shift this question in our favor. This is a lucky situation that is not given for most study groups or lectures. I am glad that we could use it wisely.

Knowledge requirements

Of course, with the initially assessed prior knowledge being in the form of a gaussian curve we could not create an interesting study group without requiring some participants to work harder than others. Still I am glad that we manage to find a close-to-sweep spot.

How do you rate the pace of the study group?

Does one goes hand in hand with the knowledge requirements. People that had to learn more to be on the same level will certainly struggle more to follow the talks than those who have years of experience in the covered topics. Somehow, however, we managed to make everyone feel that the pace was just right.

Pace of the study group

I think the inspiring discussions during the talks did not only consume a lot of time, but also proved to be an efficient pace moderator. People struggling to follow could catch up, while others could elaborate on more advanced ideas.

Have the fundamental ideas been communicated well?

Essentially, this question has been answered with the previous one. If these ideas would have been presented badly, I guess the pace would have been too slow or too fast.

Fundamental ideas

This one is strongly coupled to the performance of the speakers and their talks. Overall, the group has the impression that everyone did a good job. This is also our impression. Here, we want to thank everyone for their participation in the group. We have been amazed that everyone was so disciplined during the talk (as a listener) and professional as a speaker. Wonderful talks!

How did you find the atmosphere in the group?

Besides one participant criticizing some of the talks for having the wrong speaker, most people had a very good impression about the atmosphere in the group. One comment reads: “The working atmosphere in the group was very good!”. I guess this summarizes it for the most part.

Another thing that came up in this open question was the privacy concerns uttered in the open space after our plenum talk. One person wrote “it might be interesting to have an interdisciplinary collaboration regarding the privacy issues arising with IoT”. In our opinion interdisciplinary is the only way to deal with this problem efficiently.

Finally, the length of the talks was discussed. A more detailed comment reads “If the given presentation time had been set to 30 min, the length of the talks would have been one hour, but although almost every talk was too long in the end, the timeout was handled pretty well! Congrats on that!”. Indeed the time management proved to be quite difficult for us. On the one hand we did not want to constrain anyone, on the other hand we had a quite tight schedule to fulfill. Thank for recognizing our efforts in this area.

Rate the heterogeneity of the presented content!

This one was easy. We did a lot to offer a diverse spectrum consisting of a lot of different topics. In the end we have been glad that everyone joined our lead and became so enthusiastic about the spectrum of talks. Apparently, the atmosphere of the group played a crucial role here.

Heterogeneity of the presented content

Again, thanks to everyone for preparing such good presentations. This will certainly be helpful for the future… or?

How useful will the study group be in your future?

No one in this group is an oracle (if so - please write me a mail). No one can see the future. Still, one may have some plan and the learned material can be one important piece or play an important role in this future. This is now even more personal as its driven mainly by personal plans for the future.

Useful for the future

The range of responses shows that while some anticipate some kind of usage for the material in the near or far future, others mainly saw an interesting summer activity in it. That’s also fine with us and now let’s move on by asking if the participants gained anything from these 2 weeks.

How much did you profit from this study group?

The question sounds similar, but is actually quite different. And indeed, the responses are also different. Here, most people see some kind of profit from this group. It may not be the total enlightenment, but still one learned one or the other things and met new people.

Profit from study group

The comments also read fine. Some guys noted that they already knew most of the things from their college education. Remember the gaussian curve I’ve mentioned earlier? Unlucky you guys have been on the right side of the spectrum. Still I am thankful that (from the other questions it seems) you still learned something and could participate so well.

The gaussian curve also kicks on from the left side: “very high density of new information for someone who isn’t that deep in this area” and “The pace was just a little bit too fast, which is not necessarily a bad thing, though. It keeps you focused and on edge to try and grasp all the new things you learn.” are testimonials of this. One participant emphasized that the ability to give the talk in English was valuable.

Overall, we’ve been impressed with the enthusiasm and greed for knowledge. You people have been very fine despite our mediocre literature selection!

How well did the literature help you?

Yes, this one is a tough one. We really tried to prepare a coherent selection of literature, but the broad spectrum of topics made this difficult to impossible. Furthermore, this is a topic / question that is highly personal. One finds a specific piece of literature perfect, another one will rate it poorly. Everyone’s learning different and sensitive to different styles.

Literature help

Still, the majority agrees that our selection was at least decent. One can say that we only did poorly sometimes where the topic did not give us the right literature. But that would be far too easy. So let’s just skip it and mark it as “can be improved”.

This situation is also reflected in the time required for preparation. Some had a more relaxed experience here, while others had to work hard to catch up or deal with the literature.

Preparation time in hours

At least with our mail communication prior to the study group we tried to improve the situation here.

Did the mail communication prepare you for the study group?

Most of the students had the impression that our mail communication did prepare them well for the study group. A few may have liked the mails, but felt a little bit lost in the preparation. Potentially, a more strict plan would have helped those.

Mails preparation

Letting the students manage this is of course helpful for most, but can also be problematic for others. Luckily, most seemed to be well adjusted to our scheme. So how did we do?

How did the organizers perform?

In short: It seems like we did a good job at least one person was commenting “Keep going exactly this way.”. Thanks for appreciating our efforts - much welcome!

How did we answer your questions? Has the one comment “That much knowledge in two brains ;)” we received been perceived by most participants?

Organizers answers

So indeed it seems we could answer most your questions in a satisfying manner. Phew! If anything remained unclear then just write us a mail. We’ll try to find an adequate answer.

Similarly, one could ask if you think we’ve been prepared well enough for this experience. Here the result also leaves almost no room for interpretation.

Organizers preparation

The hard work of organizing this thing as kind of a project with milestones and work items seemed to be the right way. Also as we did everything prior to the academy we had more free time in Leysin. I think overall that was appreciated as we see in the following pie chart.

Prepare before or after the academy

With the preparation and actual work out of our way we can ask ourselves: Are we good role models? Did we convey passion for the topic and motivate the students? With our plenum talk we tried to present a (from a technology point of view) cool picture of the possibilities. Also one student remarked “Florian, Niki, I didn’t send you a letter, but I wanted to tell you that I likes the two weeks very much and would easily recommend you as lecturers! Your talk about IoT was the best of all.”.

Organizers passion

Our passion for this area seems to be undeniable. We’re glad that our own mindset has been transported so well. However, did we also motivate students? Wikipedia defines motivation to be “[…] defined as one’s direction to behavior, or what causes a person to want to repeat a behavior and vice versa.”. This already indicates that we are only part of the story. If a person has a different plan for his life we won’t be able to motivate that person to change it.

The result of the question “how did we motivate our participants” is therefore not only correlated to the question regarding the passion, but also regarding how useful the study group is for one’s future. The result reflects this nicely.

Organizers motivation

All in all I think we did fine here, especially since two people told us that they had an “awesome time”. I think that’s also related to “Thanks for taking your time to do the ‘Bastelnachmittage’.”, even though one person admitted that more hands-on would have been appreciated.

Finally, a comment that went quite into detail and should not be left out (caution: shameless self-promotion):

“Vielen Dank für die tollen zwei Wochen!!!!! Wir haben enorm viel Neues gelernt und Inspirationen bekommen, hatten eine großartige Atmosphäre in der Gruppe, viel Freizeit am Nachmittag und am Abend (im Gegensatz zu anderen Gruppen) und natürlich die coolsten Dozenten ;-) Danke dass ihr so viel Zeit in diese AG investiert habt, ob in der Vorbereitung mit Themenauswahl und Lektürenvorschlägen oder auch während der zwei Wochen, in denen ihr immer Zeit für Fragen oder Probleme beim Basteln hattet. Euer Abendvortrag war definitiv der coolste, auch von Nicht-Technikern kam hervorragendes Feedback. Allergrößten Dank für euer Engagement! :D”

Now to the interesting stuff. Since this all seems to fit into the picture of a really successful academy it would potentially make sense to organize an after-meeting.

Are you interested in a post-academy meeting?

Now the question speaks for itself. What was the resonance here?

After meeting interest

Fine - so a few people have no interest (due to whatever reasons). However, the overall census is that this would indeed be a good thing. So the remaining question is: When should this take place?

After meeting time

Apparently, the opinion is mixed. I guess in 9 months (June 2017 then) it would be nice to offer. Since there will be lectures and more going on we should try to make in on a (hopefully nice) weekend. Where should this be held?

After meeting location

Again, mixed responses. Overall, this one will be determined by some factors. In the end we will come up with a location and is reachable by everyone who is interested in joining this meeting. Furthermore, some fun activities and affordable prices should be given. We’ll see what we can do!


We had two amazing weeks. The weather was gorgeous and the spirit within the group was superior. Thanks to everyone for making this happen. We wish you all success in your future endeavors!