Call for Submissions: Global Research Challenge

Germany’s FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg launches international contest seeking innovative solutions to cutting-edge science problems

Bright minds and creative thinkers from the global research community have the opportunity to test their skills with their peers in a worldwide competition organised by Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) – the FAU Open Research Challenge, funded by the German Research Foundation. From now until July 2015, teams of up to five researchers can tackle one of three questions at the forefront of information technology, optics, or applied mathematics in energy research.


The three questions are published online at Designed to be engaging as well as challenging, the contest reflects some of FAU’s major research areas. The topics are:

  • Digital Forensics: More and more data is stored and shared by digital devices in our networked world. With this increase and recent data breaches, the question of information security is highly relevant. Besides actively securing data and devices, proving and investigating a potential hack is an equally important skill needed for digital crime scene investigation. The Digital Forensics challenge provides a scenario with a data set and asks researchers to investigate the case.

  • Discrete Optimization: The global community is searching for new ways to mitigate its growing energy demands and offer sustainable solutions for a rapidly developing world. This challenge focuses on the crucial aspect of electric rail transportation, specifically: how can rail timetables be optimized to prevent costly fluctuations, or peaks, in power consumption. Participants in this challenge are asked to find an efficient solution to optimize a given rail timetable.

  • Photonic Technologies: Modern technology makes the life of counterfeiters increasingly difficult. It allows us to create complex holograms as a security measure. A seemingly random pattern reveals its concealed security information when read out with a laser. The challenge is to decode analytically the message hidden in a hologram.


The submitted answers will be judged by a panel of experts in the respective fields. The three winning teams will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to visit FAU. During a week-long autumn school in Erlangen-Nuremberg in October 2015, they will have the chance to visit the research groups and laboratories, discuss their solutions, explore possibilities for future collaboration or careers, and present their work at a high profile public event, the Long Night of Science. The winners will also experience the cultural and nature highlights of FAU’s historic and innovation-driven region of northern Bavaria including the picturesque medieval city of Nuremberg.


The FAU Open Research Challenge is one of three projects awarded with a prize by the German Research Foundation (DFG) in 2015 for best concept in international research marketing.


About the Long Night of Science

Founded in 2003, the Long Night of Science is held every two years in the Metropolitan Region Nuremberg. A comprehensive program covering a wide spectrum of scientific fields is supported by more than 300 regional partners ranging from universities, schools and research institutes including Fraunhofer and the Max-Planck-Institute for the Science of Light to major companies such as Siemens, Areva, Deutsche Bahn, MAN and Schaeffler.


About Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nürnberg

Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nürnberg, founded in 1743, is one of Germany’s leading research universities with an international perspective. It is one of the largest universities in Germany, with almost 40,000 students, 244 degree programmes, 4,000 academic staff (including 661 professors), 171 million euros (2013) third-party funding, and 500 partnerships with universities all over the world. FAU’s outstanding research and teaching is reflected in top positions in both national and international rankings, as well as the high amount of DFG funding which its researchers are able to secure. FAU is ranked tenth in the DFG’s current research ranking, was judged the seventh best university in Germany in the most recent University Ranking by Academic Performance (URAP), and is once again among the top universities in research and teaching according to the 2015 QS World University Rankings by Subject. For more information, visit



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