Reflections on 42 Wolfsburg’s first 100 days

42 Wolfsburg opened its doors in May 2021, welcoming a diverse pool of talented students from all over Europe, with the aim of pioneering humanistic-tech education (esp. around Automotive & Mobility Ecosystems) by training the #nextGenerationSoftwareEngineers. Today we want to share a status update via an overview of our milestones.

Even though COVID restrictions made the start of the first 42 cohort challenging, we managed to open the campus and operate it at 30% on-site capacity. Students, admitted via our first three Piscines (one-month selection bootcamps) are exploring our state-of-the-art campus and have the chance to code, learn, explore, tinker, hack, play, and build friendships with their peers.

Since June we hosted about half of our 150 students on-site and they made more than 1,000 desk bookings. More than 60 students picked up their keys to access the school 24/7 and are on-site regularly.

The feedback from participants has been overwhelmingly positive so far. One female Pisciner from Latvia wrote to us:

“There’s a lot that could be said but currently I’m at a loss for words. Never would I have expected to receive such an experience during what I initially assumed to be a regular coding bootcamp marketed under exciting buzzwords, it’s truly exceeded all of my expectations, many of which I didn’t even have. I’ve met such fascinating and wonderful people and learned more about myself in these past 4 weeks than I have in the entire year. I also never thought meditation was for me but turns out it’s something I even needed. And even though I would’ve liked to make more coding progress, I know more than I did before and now I know what I should’ve done differently. But most importantly, this Piscine has shown me the irreplaceable value and importance of community and real, raw human relationships. No matter what happens next, the lessons we each learned here is something that will remain within our minds and hearts for a long time to come. To all of you who contributed in whichever ways you could and brought everything together, and to all of you who participated — thank you for making this piscine possible.”

During the last months, we have recruited 41 experts from academia and industry to become part of 42 as Fellows. These are mostly senior professionals (professors and managers) who offered to share their expertise, mentor our students and collaborate on ventures like the curriculum Software Engineering Automotive & Mobility Ecosystems (SEA:ME). An overview of our fellows can be found here. Currently, we have 28 Industry Fellows, 11 Senior Academic Fellows, 2 Academic Fellows, 25% of whom are female while 11 of them are from VW Group companies. So far, the Fellows have held 11 very well-received knowledge-sharing sessions where they connect with our students.

Following the announcements of our partnerships with Microsoft, Google, RedHat, and Porsche, we have recently intensified collaborations with CARIAD, Audi, and VM Ware.

Still from a workshop led by 42 Fellow Mario Alberto Ortegón-Cabrera, which explored the emergence and future of Mobility Ecosystems.

Since the 42 #LearningSpaceShip has landed in Wolfsburg’s historical Markthalle in May, we initiated fruitful and friendly relationships with our neighboring earthlings. Our students enjoy discounts for yummy cookies/coffee at Waynes. With Wolfsburg’s Co-Working Hub Schiller 40 we set up joint workshops. And in the evenings we spend good times with the crew of the Youth Meetup Haltestelle.

Values, Culture & Governance

A quote by Peter Drucker we quite like is “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”. Subsequently, we are quite passionate about creating a culture that is based on shared values and is a central engine of everything we do at 42 Wolfsburg.

To facilitate the formation of a democratic and energetic culture & student community, we defined our values and facilitated the election of a Student Council which provided the basis for holding our first school “senate meeting” (Quality & Learning Circle), where all stakeholders are invited to raise issues, requests, and proposals, thereby actively shaping the direction that school‘s culture and strategy are taking.

Since the very beginning, our team has been continuously trying to make our school a special place for learning, one that doesn’t limit itself to coding exercises but focuses on a holistic understanding of technological innovation and self-cultivation. In the spirit of this vision, our FabLab has officially opened its doors, allowing students to work with 3D printers and laser cutters and create prototypes with sensors, controllers, engines, dashboards.

During the summer, we hosted artists Mitra Wakil and Fabian Hesse, both professors at the Leipzig Academy of Visual Arts, who presented the artistic possibilities of 3D printing and scanning in two workshops, using the equipment of our FabLab

Community Bus

If students ever feel like taking a break or going on a school trip or event, we offer them our very own 42-branded T5 California Beach camper. The Camper has been decorated very nicely from the outside to make sure that we spread the 42 word loudly while cruising on Germany’s Autobahn — as well as the pristine climbing and hiking spots e.g. in the Harz.

Adhering to our vision for inclusive open education, 42 Wolfsburg started to offer scholarships — but as always we agreed to design our program looking forward rather than awarding scholarships for past achievements or neediness. That is to say, we opted to invite our students to propose entrepreneurial projects they would like to tackle in the next year. Most of the first 12 students who have received scholarships are working on projects involving other members of the community in initiatives like the 42 Incubator, Debating Society, or the student blog Humans of 42. On the technical side, our scholarship recipients are working on topics like Arduino, Carolo Cup, LoRa, and Open Standards like V2X.

Furthermore, thousands of people from across the globe have listened to the regular Fireside Chats we have organized with high-profile guests such as Ted Hardie, Vint Cerf, Jakob Kudsk Steensen, Olivier Crouzet, Doris Sommer, and Blaise Aguera y Arcas — all of them very well-received. We cannot express our gratitude enough for their incredible insights and support.

Visit or Join us

Upcoming events include 42’s Winterfest on November 19th, where everybody is invited to have a day full of activities and brainfood, as well as liquid and hearty delicatessen.

As things are looking highly promising for our community, we are more and more committed to staying ahead of the curve in order to make 42 Wolfsburg a place for IT education like no other in Germany.

If we got you interested, please consider applying to join one of our next Piscines or to become a 42 Wolfsburg Fellow.

And of course, we are looking forward to any feedback or questions below this post!

May the code be with you!

42 is an innovative, higher education software engineering school, sponsored by Volkswagen

42 is an innovative, higher education software engineering school, sponsored by Volkswagen