Honestly Indispensable

“Happy Birthday”: The Nursery “Kinderzimmer” from the Departments of Mathematics and Informatics turns five

By Doris Herrmann

 

Joaquin is 20 months old, and has regularly been going to university since he was half a year old. He especially likes the Departments of Mathematics and Informatics. He has his own little kingdom here, and is constantly finding something new to discover.  With his adviser at his side, he has been having a great time during his „research stay.“  But Joaquin is not participating in a head-start programms for young children. Mama Fabiola Moyon regularly brings the little guy to the department’s “Kinderzimmer”, like when she has to come in on a Saturday for exam prep, attend a weekend seminar, or make an evening appointment for her studies. The young woman from Ecuador is in the third semester of a Master’s program in informatics. Her husband is a student too. „Without the nursery, I wouldn’t be able to be here for my studies,“ Fabiola Moyon explains. „Constantly hiring a babysitter would be too expensive, and the day care centre is of course closed on weekends.“

Since June of 2011, the Departments of Mathematics and Informatics on the third floor of the building (room 03.010.22B) have been offering flexible childcare to all persons who study or work within the FMI building.  This service can be booked at the beginning of the semester, or even last-minute. Precise information can be found on www.in.tum.de/en/current-students/. The caretakers come from the “Rund um die Familie” (R.U.F.) Agency. From stuffed animals to animal books, there is plenty to keep kids busy. And if they get tired, they can take a nap on the sofa.

At the beginning of 2016 the directors of Mathematics and Informatics decided to further finance the flexible childcare through 2018 with a generous sum of 10,000 € per year—a real blessing for international students and those from out-of-town. “Even back in Ecuador I could see on the faculty website that there was a possibility of childcare services. That was reassuring,” says Fabiola Moyon. “The availability of the nursery was one of the reasons I chose to TUM for my studies.”

The “Kinderzimmer” is also a big help for tiding over during the day care holidays, like for Julien Gagneur, Assistant Professor for Computational Biology. His 18-month-old daughter Marion usually comes with her daddy to Garching for half the day. “Without the nursery, my wife and I would have to start alternating vacation days,” says Julien Gagneur. “It’s hard with so many breaks during the school year.” The Assistant Professor was able to find out about the service quite easily through TUM.Family. He says he is especially pleased with the friendly staff, in whose good hands he feels safe leaving Marion.

And it is not only on-site parents and their children who profit from the flexible childcare. Even for guests with older children, there’s no doing without it. “Without the childcare in the nursery, I wouldn’t be able to come to Garching and the TUM with my two sons, four and seven years old,” affirms Johannes Zimmer, professor of Mathematics at the University of Bath (UK). “I wouldn’t know where put my kids otherwise.  The local childcare options dictate which colleagues I can afford to visit abroad.”

Family-friendliness plays an important roll in a modern university culture that promotes excellent research and teaching. The TUM has been offering comprehensive information, counselling and service possibilities for years. The department nursery from Mathematics and Informatics has become an indispensable part of these and is also of high benefit for other institutions at the research campus in Garching. It served also as a model for the downtown campus (EDU). In the words of student Fabiola Moyon: “Family-friendliness here at the Mathematics and Informatics isn’t just a buzzword on the website, it really happens.”