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Interview with Fatima Mašić



Interview with Fatima Mašić, Institute of Metrology of Bosnia and Herzegovina (IMBiH), Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina) 
[Braunschweig, 4 July 2023]

Fatima Mašić comes from Bosnia-Herzegovina where she works at the Institute of Metrology of Bosnia and Herzegovina (IMBiH) in Sarajevo. As guest scientist and within the framework of the EURAMET project Metrology for emerging PV applications she currently forms part of PTB’s Department 4.5.


PTB: First of all, thank you for agreeing to give us an interview.

Fatima: Sure, I’ll be happy to do so.


PTB: I understand that the reason for your stay here is a joint project...

Fatima: Right, it is a joint research project to provide the necessary metrological infrastructure and techniques for emerging photovoltaic technologies.


PTB: And the project partners are PTB and the IMBiH?

Fatima: Yes, but not exclusively. It’s an international consortium and there are several other NMIs and institutions involved. It is coordinated by Dr. Stefan Winter from PTB.


PTB: And the measurements you are doing here, what are they about?

Fatima: Basically, it is about improving the measurement uncertainty in the primary calibration of reference solar cells.


PTB: And for this purpose, you are using the measuring device that we saw earlier?

Fatima: Exactly, the DSM facility – DSM stands for direct sunlight method. Part of my work is to document the results of the measurements carried out with that facility.


PTB: And you are here at PTB for how long exactly?

Fatima: Six month. I came here in March and will be staying until the end of August. We have chosen this time because we wanted to cover the sunny part of the year.


PTB: I see… well, solar cells are an important topic, especially in times of climate change, when solar energy is becoming increasingly important.

Fatima: Yes, indeed it is. The topic of solar cells, their measurement and primary calibration, is of great importance.


PTB: Well, I guess your research activities here are relevant for your work and of course for the IMBiH.

Fatima: Yeah, it’s a significant topic for us. We are currently in the process of building up equipment and competence in Bosnia-Herzegovina in this respect. And we will hopefully become a kind of regional centre in our region.


PTB: So, your institute will be a kind of contact point in the region. And your clients? Are these testing laboratories?

Fatima: Well, we will probably be the main contact for the industry.


PTB: And the work itself here at PTB? Are there major differences compared to the work at your institute?

Fatima: Basically, no. You see, compared to PTB the institute I work at in Bosnia and Herzegovina is not that big, maybe 50 to 60 people. So, people there have to cover more different tasks, whereas people here at PTB can focus more on a specific project. And all in all, the work here is very similar after all.


PTB: And on a personal level? How do people interact? Germans are often said to be somewhat reserved. And these kinds of prejudices, of course, might be rather discouraging when thinking about a stay here in Germany.

Fatima: Yes, admittedly I have also thought about that, and I tried to imagine what it would be like. But the reservations or concerns I had did not come true.... quite the opposite! Everyone is very open and helpful, and I felt well received as part of the team.


PTB: Happy to hear that. And what does it look like in everyday life? What’s life like outside PTB? Are there any experiences you’d like to share with us?

Fatima: I’d say that the daily routine is very similar to that in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Differences? Hm, well, a difference - nothing of significance - but here, for example, I ride a bike. I don't tend to do that at home because the area there is hillier than here.


PTB: Ok, so you’re using a bike – I assume you did not bring it yourself.

Fatima: No, I rented it.


PTB: Ah yes, that's right, now that you mention it, I saw you the other day with one of those blue bicycles... I think they're from that rental company… what’s it called? Swapfiets, right?

Fatima: Yes, Swapfiets. It’s a good thing and I would recommend it to anyone coming here. They are good and you can order them online and they are even delivered to the desired location.


PTB: Good to know that. And did you already make some excursions? I mean not only by bike…

Fatima: Yes, I have already visited a few cities in Germany… Kassel, Hannover, Frankfurt, Bonn, and Köln. And I'll see what I can do in the remaining two months.


PTB: And you went there by train?

Fatima: Yes, I took the train. I bought the Deutschland ticket which really is a practical thing, and you can also order it online using the corresponding app.


PTB: Any other experiences you’d like to share with us – positive or negative?

Fatima: I did not have any negative experiences. I have to say I feel very comfortable here and Braunschweig is a beautiful city, very green and you can do a lot of things. A month ago, for example, an international festival was held in the city centre.


PTB: Oh yes, this is an event that takes place every year and where various international organisations, dance groups, food stalls with foreign specialities take part.

Fatima: Exactly. I went to a stall where Bosnian food was offered... that was a nice opportunity to eat some Bosnian dishes. After the long time here, I must say I miss it a little bit.


PTB: I can understand that very well…

Fatima: What was funny is that the people there at the food stall always answered me in German, even though I spoke to them in Bosnian... I guess they took me for a German.


PTB: Maybe they were intimidated by your language skills – you must consider that, although they were Bosnians at the food stall, in many cases they are already the second or even third generation to live here in Germany.

Fatima: Yes, that would be an explanation.


PTB: Finally, we would like to know whether the journey to Germany was easy to organise or if there were any difficulties, for example obtaining a visa or something like that?

Fatima:No, it was all very easy. And besides Dr. Ingo Kröger had also sent me a letter of invitation and so it was no problem to get an appointment for the visa application.


PTB: And at the Einwohnermeldeamt (residents' registration office)? Were there any problems there? I think their homepage is only in German, isn't it?

Fatima: No problem at all - the first time Dr. Kröger accompanied me there, so I had no problem finding the registration office. And the second time - I had to re-register because of having moved from the PTB guesthouse - I went there on my own. And the staff there speak English.


PTB: I think before going back to Bosnia you will have to go again to cancel your registration here, right?

Fatima: Well, no… you can do this online.


PTB: Good to know. Anything else you want to add? Maybe some recommendations for us or for other researchers planning to come here?

Fatima: Perhaps the International Office should do a bit more advertising for the Deutschland ticket and for offers such as the bike rental. Ah yes, and the welcome meetings that are organised for guest researchers struck me as positive. This gives you the opportunity to get to know other visiting researchers who are staying at PTB.


PTB: Thank you for the tip about the bikes and the ticket - we will make sure to advertise this more in the future. And, of course, thank you for answering all our questions.

Fatima: It's been a pleasure. And I would like to say that I like everything here very much and I can only recommend it to others to come here to get to know the PTB and Germany.