Archives from Months July, 2012

Audio Puzzles and News: Vacation Games at SMA

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In building 10, I couldn’t help but notice a lot of small shoes. Aha, as I suspected, it must be the mini-SMAs, as it’s summer vacation time. Like every year, the vacation games took place at SMA for the children of employees, and this year with the motto ’Audio Drama,’ I just had to take a closer look at.

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Many little shoes stands at SMA.

Said and done. In the first room, I found myself standing amidst some 40 children between the ages of 5 and 14. They were all diligently puttering around three tables. From adventure stories to world news to audio puzzles; this year, the kids were all producers, authors and story tellers. This means, working in small teams they got to come up with their own stories, record them, match them to fitting music and put them all together with software on the computer. The kids even got to design their own CD covers. It all looked very professional! All that and with enough time left over to give them a chance for some good old-fashioned friendly roughhousing.

Audio Drama-Premiere
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Leon, Alex and David records an audio drama.

“We’re almost finished with our recording,” Alexander Hesse told me. “We just have to add the effects.” Together he and his fellow storyteller, Leon Reitz, created an audio book about Star Wars. The kids got to divide themselves into groups and decide what they wanted to produce. They both told me they were excited about the premiere when everyone’s work would be presented to the parents. As a memento each child received a CD recording of all the projects.

Varied Vacation Program
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The children tinkers the CD-Cover.

With the vacation games, SMA offers all employees’ children between the ages of 0 and 14 a widely-varied program for the summer holidays. Seven trainers form the Kleinen Stromer GmbH and three SMA trainees take care of the children. “The kids really do a great job and support each other,” says Selina Schneider, an SMA trainee involved in the program. There are other activities planned for the coming two weeks. SMA kids can take part in an art workshop, fitting to dOCUMENTA, or take a field trip to Edersee.

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Earthbook – The earth goes online

 

How can the controversial issues of global warming, environmental  and wildlife conservation and renewable energy come together in a balanced and meaningful fashion?  The answer is in the video “Earthbook”, which was made for “Project EARTH: Our Future” on behalf of the Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) and just in time for the Science Year 2012.

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Tomorrow’s stars – today’s solar ambassadors

On the solar roof

Where did all these soccer players come from? Some SMA employees had a bit of a surprise a couple of Fridays ago, when Cameroon’s U-20 national soccer team was visiting SMA.    

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With Energy: Employees as Artists

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Kassel is in the throws of art fever. dOCUMENTA (13) is in full swing and has transformed Kassel into an art metropolis for 100 days. This energy has even spilled over to some of our employees. Over 30 SMA employees took part in four workshops, lead by artists, to create their very own artwork. The motto: Energy ≠ Art. The results weren’t bad. We took a peek over the shoulders of these “artists” as they worked.

On/Off

Andreas Stefanovic, together with five colleagues, took part in the “On/Off” workshop lead by artists Katharina Wenderoth and Katinka Lotz. The workshop worked with “light”. By using fluorescent material, the idea was to create installations that could be changed by using light. This meant that amidst all the wires, styrofoam and tape, the light switch was an essential element. You could only see your “true” work of art once the lights were off. And so, these SMA employees taped, cut, bent, wrapped and painted diligently, allowing their creativity to run free.

The Blind Queen
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Andreas tinkers his own blind queen.

Andy created “The Blind Queen.” He wrote me this about his “masterpiece:” “I started to create without any real plan. The idea of a bright little person soon came to me. Some are likely thinking ‘oh how creative.’ I thought the same at first, but due to the tight time frame of only four hours, I just went with it. The little person quickly evolved into a woman. I decided on neon yellow for the main color, and as best as I could with my limited craftsmanship, I hurried to create an elegant woman. She was so fine that I decided to make her a little crown out of orange wire at the end. And while she might have been nice to look at, my barely-there sense for modern art was certainly not on display… so I gave her a black blindfold. And if THAT isn’t art, then I don’t know what is.” Me neither. Well done, Andi

Recycling-Mobilé
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SMA Employees at the d13 “Mobile” Workshop

“Things the world doesn’t need” were given a second chance at the “Recycling-Mobilé” workshop lead by Iris Hollstein. There the focus was on process of restructuring that certainly required energy.“It’s amazing what all you can do with seemingly useless stuff,” said Julia Endt who participated in and thoroughly enjoyed the workshop. The mobilés were made using recovered objects made out of metal, plastic, wood and glass. “Basically trash, which then becomes part of a completely balanced system suspended in the air,” Julia added.

Colorless with Color

Everything is allowed, even painting over something. The works of art created in the “Colorless with Color” workshop with Nora von der Decken were all made without being able to see what you were doing. Annette Barth described working with the colorless oil chalks and color powders as “an extremely suspenseful process.” “The results are great,” said Barth. “It will be difficult for me to part with the picture,” as the created works will be displayed during the SMA employee festival and auctioned off for a good cause. However, Annette will still have the opportunity to bid on it herself.

Prehistoric Money

The last workshop dealt with making individual coins. Single images and symbols served as patterns for the table-tennis-sized copper discs. “It was amazing how much preparation and time it took just to create a draft,” said Bärbel Berger. The head artist of the workshop, Milen Krastev, explained that “the energy input starts to shine during the development process.”

An Experiment Proved Successful

The response to the art initiative was very positive. “It’s great that SMA enables such things,” said Johanna Opolka from Service. “It’s nice to do something completely different to what you normally do.” Now we’re anxious to see what her colleagues say once her works are displayed during the employee festival in mid-August.

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Trainee Project: How Do You Build a Soldering Tip Measuring Device?

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What di I do here, and more importantly, how do I do it?
Upon returning from the last department I worked in, I was back to the familiar trainee workshop. My task here was to build a device for measuring the temperature of a soldering iron tip for use in the electronics production. Ugh – the name alone is a tongue twister, and what is this BASCOM thing with which I am supposed to write the software? I had never done computer programming before. So to start, I constructed the printed circuit board and connected the display, wrote the program and installed it… successfully. “Hallo Welt” could be read on the display, meaning this little black component with all its connections actually understood what I wanted it to do. What a great feeling! Everything is doable, everything is achievable. 🙂

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Frida Gold: The Vacation Can Now Begin

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Sigh… A stressful work week draws to an end. It’s finally Friday and the weekend is calling me.. but wait… I have three weeks of vacation before me, and if that weren’t reason enough to celebrate, EVEN BETTER, I’m treating myself to Frida Gold LIVE in Borken.

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Tomorrow’s stars – today’s solar ambassadors

On the solar roof

Where did all these soccer players come from? Some SMA employees had a bit of a surprise a couple of Fridays ago, when Cameroon’s U-20 national soccer team was visiting SMA.    

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A Coffee with the Managing Board

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André Kölsch got the idea quite spontaneously. At the last SMA company meeting, he just wanted to get something to drink when it was time for audience questions. But for some reason, this employee from the mail department walked up to the microphone instead. “I have a big mouth anyway, and thought I’d just go for it,” he told me later. André had been thinking about ways to improve the company and presented a few suggestions about things he wanted to see changed. “This is how you could save money in a number of areas,” he said. Pierre Pascal Urbon, Speaker for the SMA Managing Board, though André’s ideas were excellent and promptly invited him to a meeting to further discuss his suggestions.

Suggestions for Improvement

Shortly after the company meeting, many colleagues came up to speak with André. “Are you really going to speak to the Managing Board?”, “Did you mean that seriously?”, “That’s really courageous of you!”, were just a few of the reactions. Many, though, also gave him additional suggestions and ideas for improvement to pass on at the meeting, although he had already prepared a number of points himself. “On my mail route, I cover a lot of ground and get to see a lot of the company,” says the 29 year old. “I’m always noticing things which could be improved upon.”

To The Board with 11 Points

A few weeks later, it was time for the meeting. André sat in the executive office with a list of 11 suggestions. He worked through the list together with Pierre-Pascal Urbon. André reported, “It was really great! Mr. Urbon spent a lot of time with me and wrote down every suggestion I had in detail.” For most points, Mr. Urban was able to give him feedback directly. Urbon thought André had a number of great ideas, several of which he wanted to discuss with the involved parties following the meeting, and he was able to explain why a few of the ideas would be difficult to achieve for whatever reason. Our colleague from the mail department reported, „I’m very excited to see what will come of my ideas, and will soon ask how things are coming. And, of course, I will continue to keep my eyes peeled for even more suggestions to pass along.“

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Change in perspective: d13 & energy revolution


Unreasonable? Unnecessary? Unimportant? – Not even close! Innovative? Democratic? Farsighted? – And how! It has been underscored by both dOCUMENTA (13) and the current public debate over the cost of the energy revolution: Contemporary art and renewable energies have more in common than you might think. For instance, both are frequently criticized despite the fact that contemporary art analysis and the possibilities of renewable energies are primary and indispensable investments in our planet. The underlying requirement here is always the same – you must be prepared to change your perspective and leave the well-worn paths behind – only then can you see the opportunities offered by new circumstances.

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Department Outing, A Little Different

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I’m not exactly sure how we came up with the idea, really. A few colleagues were just talking during the lunch break and the topic of horses came up. We quickly realized there were several active riders in the HR department and several more who once rode horses. So, I though it could be something the department could do together. While other departments bowl or grill together, I thought an outing to go riding would be something really unique.

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What Makes Wind and PV farms “Beautiful”?

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Is energy compatible with art? That is the subject we have chosen for dOCUMENTA (13), the world’s largest contemporary art exhibit which is currently taking place in Kassel.  Antje Radcke, a blogger in the renewable energy sector, wrote an interesting post regarding the aesthetics of photovoltaic, wind energy and biomass systems. Thanks for the guest post.

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With Full-Bodies Flavor and Light Notes of Cherry and Chocolate

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What does this description remind you of? Why coffee, of course.
The number of coffee machines at SMA is hardly countable. The great thing is that we can use them all, free of charge. For those of us who can’t live without our daily dose, here is a special tip.

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