Jan Micha, how has your career developed so far?
I did my bachelor’s degree in media informatics at THM University of Applied Sciences. Since the start of this semester, I’ve been studying for a master’s in computer science at the Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU). I’ll definitely choose something in the field of image processing as a main focus.
Why did you choose this degree?
I really like working with computers, so it quickly became clear to me that I want to take my career in this direction. I’m effectively adopting the path of least resistance: the thing I enjoy the most will also be the easiest for me ;-)! In other words, I’ve turned my hobby into my career. It was a good decision, looking back, because I really enjoy what I do here.
Where do you work?
I work in the Moving Picture Technologies department of Fraunhofer IIS. Here, everything revolves around cameras. My group, “Computational Imaging and Algorithms”, looks at how you can apply the benefits of light field technology, or camera arrays, to professional movie production; among other applications, we integrate the light field-processing algorithms that we’ve developed into software that’s used in well-known movie productions. At present, many editing steps in the movie industry are very costly, time-consuming, or simply not possible. So in the future our innovative technology will undoubtedly be right at the forefront of Hollywood productions :-)!
(Those who are interested can learn more about the technology via the following link: https://www.iis.fraunhofer.de/de/ff/amm/for/forschbewegtbildtechn/lichtfeld.html)
How has your career progressed at Fraunhofer IIS?
It all began when I did my practical semester at Fraunhofer IIS. I liked it so much here that I wanted to do my bachelor’s thesis in collaboration with Fraunhofer IIS. During my thesis, I was able to refine the plug-in I had developed during my internship. Since completing this, I’ve been working as a student assistant here while I study for my master’s.
What was your bachelor’s thesis about? Can you briefly describe the topic?
As part of my bachelor’s thesis, I developed a plug-in for existing professional video-editing software. The plug-in allows you to evaluate the quality of a specific processing step in the light field production chain. Before the programming started, I first had to analyze the problem and design a solution.
Why did you decide to collaborate with Fraunhofer IIS?
I’ve been interested in audio and image processing since I was a child. If you want a career in one of these fields, your search quickly leads you to Fraunhofer IIS, so I decided to do my internship here. I ended up on the Fraunhofer IIS job website and found that there are a lot of interesting jobs advertised here. In the end, I applied to a call for interns and everything worked out for the best :-).
What is your advice to other students hoping to write a successful final thesis?
You have to keep working at it consistently and you need to be self-disciplined. It’s also important to maintain close contact with your university or college. Apart from that, my tip is to apply for a topic as soon as possible so that you can get started.
How did Fraunhofer IIS support you with your final thesis?
My supervisor provided me with outstanding academic support during my bachelor’s thesis. He often proofread things for me and gave me specific tips. That was really great, because it gave me a professional opinion from someone who already has considerable experience in writing scientific publications. This insight was really valuable and helped me a great deal. I also had the opportunity to do some very focused work at the institute using a powerful PC, which is useful for computer algorithms.
What are you currently doing at Fraunhofer IIS?
I’m primarily working on the development of light field plug-ins and the NUKE post-production software from The Foundry, which can be used to apply our algorithms in a straightforward manner and to make adjustments.
What is your typical working day at Fraunhofer IIS like?
When I come into Fraunhofer IIS, I start off with a bit of programming on my projects. At about 1 p.m., I usually meet up with the students and staff who are there that day, and we go to the canteen together. In the afternoon, the day might continue with some student talks, for example. We meet up with the group leader regularly to discuss current issues.
Over the course of the afternoon, I might have a coffee break with other students from the department so that we can discuss what we’re currently working on or just chat about life.
What do you like best about Fraunhofer IIS?
Given that I’ve been here for a relatively long time and have gained a lot of experience, I’m given interesting and varied tasks to work on. As a result, I’m now working directly with customers. On top of that, this year I’ll have the opportunity to take our product to an international trade fair for the first time. I also particularly like the fact that I can work on my own topics with a great deal of autonomy, but still have a regular slot where I meet my supervisor to explore potential problem-solving approaches and to talk about my future work. These technical discussions with my supervisor are something I find really helpful. Apart from that, if I have any tricky problems, I can always ask other colleagues and student assistants to take a look. I always find that people are ready to listen.
How does Fraunhofer IIS support you in planning your career?
My group leader regularly talks to me about my current work and how I would like to develop my expertise. He gives me constant opportunities to try out a range of new tasks.
What are your career plans after you finish your master’s degree?/What expectations do you have of your future career?
I would like to work as a programmer in software development; possibly in the field of image or video processing.
At Fraunhofer IIS, many colleagues have clubbed together to enjoy leisure activities such as football, cycling or table football tournaments. Do you get involved?
Yes, my colleagues and I like to go out in our spare time.
What makes Fraunhofer special to you/attractive as an employer?
I find the variety of topics particularly exciting. When I discover what other departments here are developing, I think “wow, that’s some really clever stuff!”. You get to see the latest technologies up-close. The research here is impressive – and to some extent I’m part of it.
Have you attended any further training at Fraunhofer IIS?
Fraunhofer IIS not only offers various seminars on soft skills and technical subjects, but also provides training aimed specifically at students, and my group leader has already pointed me in this direction. For example, I did a training course on trade fairs to prepare for our exhibit there.