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As the winner of Falling Walls Lab Jakarta 2019, Mr. James Zuflan got the chance to represent Indonesia at the Falling Walls Lab Finale in Berlin, Germany on the 8th and 9th November 2019. Mr James then gladly shares his experience with us, and here is his story. 

Having the chance to represent Indonesia at the Falling Walls Lab Finale in Berlin, Germany, is a great honour for me. I presented my research project on hydraulic structure construction (weir, dam) titled “Breaking the Wall of Dam Construction” at the event which was held on 8th November 2019.

On the first day I arrived in Berlin, 100 participants from over 70 countries were welcomed by the Falling Walls Committee with several activities, including games, motivational talks, and workshops with distinguished journal publishers (Springer, Nature). This workshop is beneficial for researchers who wish to publish their research in reputable journals. Our first day in Berlin was completed by a welcome dinner in one of the oldest bars in Berlin with German cuisine.

On the second day in Berlin, together with all Falling Walls Lab participants, I visited the Freie Universität Berlin. There we got the chance to know more about German research institutions and research development in Germany. Afterwards, I had the opportunity to meet the Indonesian Ambassador for Germany, Mr. Arif Havas Oegroseno, at the Indonesian Embassy in Berlin. He is a warm person and appreciates Indonesian researchers who present their research on an international stage. On this friendly occasion, we discussed the Falling Walls Lab and the opportunity for research collaboration in Germany.

Friday, 8th November 2019, was the day all participants gave their best at the Falling Walls Lab Final. All participants presented their innovative idea or project in front of remarkable judges and guests one by one. I gave my best to deliver my innovative idea on the stage, and I did not forget any sentences that I had prepared. In my opinion, the ideas or projects that the participants delivered were engaging and widened my knowledge.

Finally, the result of the competition was announced. Unfortunately, I did not win the trophy this time. Although it was a little bit disappointing, I was delighted and honoured, knowing that I had given my best in the competition. Throughout this competition, I got the chance to show the world that Indonesia could develop innovative hydraulic structure construction methods. For me, this competition was an unforgettable experience.

The next day, I was involved in a seminar. The seminar was filled with presentations by international scientists from different backgrounds and expertise. I also used this event to network with other participants.

After the Falling Walls Lab event, I continued my trip by visiting several research institutions sponsored by Euraxess. I had a chance to visit three Top Universities in Europe: Technische Universität Dresden (TU Dresden), Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich (ETH Zurich), and Technische Universiteit Delft (TU Delft). The first research institution that I visited was TU Dresden in Germany on 11th November. I visited Hubert Engels Laboratory on the TU Dresden Campus to see the hydraulic research project that was being carried out by the researchers. On 13th November, I visited ETH Zurich in Switzerland. There I got the chance to visit the VAW Laboratory, where advanced equipment and instruments were used for data collection. It was a short yet memorable visit in Zurich, sadly, the next day, I had to fly to the Netherlands for another laboratory visit.

In the Netherlands, I visited the Hydraulic Laboratory at the TU Delft. I used this opportunity to learn about the implementation of modern technology for research, especially for research related to hydraulic structures. During the visit, I met the professors and researchers and shared our experience related to hydraulic structure research. We also talked about the possibility of a research partnership in the future.

After completing my visit to three laboratories in different countries, I gained more knowledge and experience to understand how research is conducted in Europe. I will gladly share this experience with my colleagues at my institution in Indonesia.

During the Europe trip, I made time to have a warm reunion with my professors and colleagues in IHE Delft, where I got my Master’s Degree three years ago. I also got the chance to give a seminar at TU Delft and to be a guest lecturer at my former university, the IHE Delft. During this opportunity, I shared my experience of my research projects in Indonesia in front of lecturers, students, and colleagues. I also had a chance to visit the Indonesian Embassy for the Netherlands in Den Haag and met the Vice Ambassador and his team. We discussed the opportunity of research collaboration in the future.

Finally, I thank DAAD and Euraxess for supporting my memorable journey in Europe. I will share this inspiring experience with my colleagues in my institution. I hope there will be more research collaborations between Indonesia and Germany in the future, especially in water resource construction, to improve the infrastructure in Indonesia.