How can an Indian get to Stanford

The "farm" of provocative ideas

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Who wouldn't want to study here? On the 3310 acre campus of Stanford University in California. A huge green area, called "farm", with historical and newer buildings, 15,723 students, but almost 2000 professors. That means: there are only eight students per professor. A situation that the University of Vienna can only dream of: According to the University of Vienna's press office, 91,362 students face 816 professors (including associate, associate professors and assistant professors).

Stanford is of course a private university: The admission criteria for students are much stricter than in Vienna. Of the 39,000 applicants, around 1,700 were most recently accepted. Decision-making criteria are the school grades, recommendations from the teachers and the application letters from the students.

Tuition fees are around $ 40,000 per year, with admission being completely independent of money. "We don't have a student here who has been admitted and can't afford it," emphasized the Austrian Fritz Prinz, who holds the Robert Bosch Professorship for "Mechanical Engineering" at the Stanford School of Engineering, in front of a group of journalists who had traveled from Vienna . Students with a family income of less than $ 60,000 a year don't have to pay anything.

At around EUR 3.47 billion, Stanford's annual budget exceeds that of all Austrian universities combined (around EUR 2.5 billion per year). Prince explains that Stanford doesn't live on students, but on successful, happy graduates. Donations total about $ 1 billion a year.

Prinz describes the "spirit" of the full university. "We are a classic bottom-up university, which means: The ideas come from the students who constantly challenge the university management and the professors - and who are consistently provocative." You don't just go to the limits of what is technically feasible here and is conceivable. "

Many would want to change the world and, ideally, earn money with it. So they set up companies and find the best ground for it in the Stanford area in Silicon Valley. Others go with projects in the Third World and develop, for example, a lamp for a village that has to do without electricity. In physics in particular, there are many who do not ostensibly look at money.

Silicon Valley is the counterpoint to Austria

Hewlett-Packard was the first technology company in Silicon Valley. Today, the chip manufacturer Intel, the social media giant Facebook and the pharmaceutical company Gilead are also located where the Austrian biochemist Norbert Bischofsberger is Vice President. HIV therapeutics in particular are developed here. Bischofsberger himself became known for the development of the flu drug Tamiflu. Silicon Valley is the counterpoint to Austria. Anyone who fails with a business idea is regarded as experienced. After multiple disasters, he doesn't get any more money there either. In this country you are immediately labeled as a "loser".

Incidentally, strict rules apply to the scientists at Stanford University when it comes to setting up companies. "If I am involved in a start-up, I am not allowed to take on research assignments from it. I can only be active in an advisory capacity," says Prinz. The funds for his work - including basic research for new semiconductors - come from Intel or Samsung.

When asked about Austria, Prince criticized the accounting systems at the domestic universities in particular. At Stanford you would calculate exactly what a new device would cost while it was in operation and what a place at university would cost. That was not the case in Austria recently. (Peter Illetschko from Palo Alto, DER STANDARD, October 23, 2013)

The trip to California was made possible by the support of the Austrian Institute of Technology (AIT).