Pomp and Circumstance at the Opening Ceremony

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Laureates of mathematics and computer science meet the next generation
Heidelberg Laureate Forum

The importance of the Heidelberg Laureate Forum really hit home for me when I saw how much effort was being put into making the event special for both the laureates and young researchers. From the smallest details, like the quality of the conference bags, to the pomp and circumstance of the opening ceremony, the organizers sure are doing things right.

The opening ceremony felt a bit like a wedding at first. We were asked to stand, the music started courtesy of a very talented saxophone quartet, and then we stared at an open door for a good few minutes before the laureates proceeded in. Cue the huge round of applause to honour the 26 laureates, winners of the ACM Turing Award, Abel Prize, Fields Medal, and Nevanlinna Prize. I’m sure each and every of the 200 young researchers present were honoured to be in their presence, and eventually even meet them personally.

@HLFF/ B. Kreutzer - All rights reserved 2015
@HLFF/ B. Kreutzer – All rights reserved 2015

There was a touching moment of silence for those we have lost since last year’s forum, including the founder of HLF, Klaus Tschira. The rest of the ceremony featured welcome speeches, including two from politicians: Sigmar Gabriel, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, and Vice Chancellor of Germany; Dr. Eckart Würzner, Lord Mayor of the City of Heidelberg. I found it quite refreshing that not only did these politicians seem to understand the importance of science and technology, but genuinely cared about it.

@HLFF/ B. Kreutzer - All rights reserved 2015
Saxophone Quartet Balanced Action @HLFF/ B. Kreutzer – All rights reserved 2015

We were treated to some more sweet sounds of the saxophones at several interludes, and lead by the quartet Balanced Action out of the building and along the historic cobblestone streets to the opening reception nearby. Hard to make a group of mathematicians and computer scientists feel any more special than that (that is, until dinner at the castle, but that’s a story for another time).

The video of the opening ceremony is available online.

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Gail is Manager of External Education Programs at Shopify where her team works to make learning computer science better for everyone. Previously, she taught computer science at Carleton University. Gail was a co-founder of Carleton's Women in Science and Engineering group (CU-WISE), and has lead many computer science outreach events. You can follow Gail on Twitter (@gailcarmichael) and her personal blog (The Female Perspective of Computer Science).

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