Collectors on the roof of the world

Travelled far for his Master’s thesis: TUM student Tilman Rüdiger in NepalTravelled far for his Master’s thesis: TUM student Tilman Rüdiger in Nepal. (Photo: private)

For his Master’s thesis, Tilman Rüdiger spent three weeks in Nepal. In an interview with TUMstudinews reporter Sabrina Czechofsky, Tilman reports how he was able to combine work and leisure - and why he wouldn’t want to have missed this experience.

Tilman, what is your Master’s thesis about - and what does it have to do with Nepal?

Tilman Rüdiger: I conducted a comparative study on hot water production using vacuum tube collectors. Simply put, the question was whether the same problems occur when operating these collectors in Germany and in Nepal - or if there are differences.

You studied Construction Engineering for a teaching profession. How did you come up with this topic?

That was pure coincidence. I once gave a presentation about "mobile learning" based on Apps for smartphones and tablets - and my lecturer Johannes Krell approached me to ask whether I would like to write a Master’s thesis on this topic. Actually, the subject doesn’t have very much to do with Construction Technology, so I had to work my way into it and learn about new research methods. It was the prospect of visiting Nepal that convinced me, so I seized the opportunity.

What did you do in Nepal?

My job was to examine this specific type of thermal collectors on site, to find out everything about their installation, operation, and maintenance. At the end of the trip, I also presented my Master’s thesis and the results to students and professors at the University of Kathmandu (KU).

What difficulties did you come across during your work?

While I was still in Germany, it wasn’t exactly easy to make plans for the project part in Nepal. The Nepalese people I met were all very nice and helpful, but they don’t really like answering e-mails. At the beginning, I thus had the feeling of being unproductive - so I spent a lot of time on working out backup plans. When I was there, I had to deal with the problem that I had contact persons who weren’t very reliable and who couldn’t help me properly or in a timely manner.

And what did you do then?

I helped myself and hired a guide from the city. I told him about my problem and my project, and we started looking for collectors together. In other words, we trudged around and inquired at hotels, the university, and even at private households... we often just rang doorbells to ask whether we could take a look at the collectors. The Nepalese people were all very open-minded and willing to help.

What were the results of your work?

The problems in Germany and Nepal are very different. As there is more sunshine in Nepal, the collectors should be very efficient. However, since it doesn’t rain very often and since there is more air pollution, the collectors get dirty from the outside much faster. As a result, and due to the sometimes very dirty water, they need to be serviced more often.

How did you like the country?

Nepal was beautiful. I was always able to spend a bit of leisure time on going to see things. I liked it there very much. Although working on my Master’s thesis was quite strenuous, it was a unique experience that I wouldn’t want to have missed.

Tilman Rüdiger (33) studied Law for a few semesters and completed a carpentry apprenticeship before starting a course of studies of Construction Engineering at TUM and English at the LMU - for a teaching profession at vocational schools. Currently, he is completing his teacher training in Wetzlar in Hesse.