To achieve a possibly high impact of an ASCOS event,
the scientific programme consists of two interlinked components:


A number of tutorials, covering the basics of optical chemical sensors and important related fields, are held by invited lecturers who are internationally renowned specialists in their respective fields and good teachers. The tutorials concentrate on the basics of sensor technology, covering the principles and the limits of the methods as well as some practical applications, starting from a level that can be expected of an average graduate in chemistry or physics. The aim is to give the participants, especially those who have no or little practical experience with this particular method, the chance to learn about the respective method(s) „from the basics“.

The tutors are selected by the organising committees upon three criteria:

  • Scientific competence in the respective field

  • The ability to give first-rate teaching lectures and the readiness to meet with the students and discuss questions arising out of the presentation and/or the group work topics, e.g. over a glass of beer.

  • The readiness of the tutors to stay, if possible, for the entire course. The tutors are expected to be around during the second part of an ASCOS workshop, the group-work sessions, to answer questions related to the respective analytical problems.
    This is not always possible for everybody, but usually a fair amount of the tutors are present – although you’ll sometimes may have to look for them e.g. in the bar or on the tennis court, simply because this is where the best scientific ideas are usually hatched.


For the project group work, small, mixed groups of typically 5 to 6 participants are formed and assigned an analytical problem of current interest that should be solved using one or several optical sensors. The organisers (try to) arrange mixed groups composed of people from different countries, laboratories and fields of expertise to promote discussion and exchange of ideas. The participants are requested to use the input from the tutorials (and the tutors – just ask them) and the special knowledge of each participant to find a feasible way to solve the problem. The solutions have to be presented at the last day of the course, involving at least two members of each team. The group voted best by all participants is then presented with the ASCOS award. The solutions should be scientifically sound and realistic, but if the teams find a nice, humorous way for the presentation, this just might give them the extra point(s) to win the ASCOS challenge.

Please remember: the workshop language is English, and everyone is requested to stick to that, in order not to exclude anybody in his / her group from the discussion.

This combination of theory and practical application in a project group work is rather unique and regarded by most participants as the one fact that makes ASCOS superior to conventional teaching courses. Due to the mixing of the team work groups, the participants have to teamwork with people they’ve probably never met before, deal with new ideas and actively discuss scientific ideas and concepts with others in English (which has been described by many ASCOS graduates as a great experience). Thus, the feared „grouping“ of participants coming from one lab, as so often observed on international conferences, is effectively averted.