Voices (ISL Stories)

Meet André Wilmes

Learn more about André Wilmes, Alumnus, Class of 2007


Class of (or years attended): Class of 2007, (Grades 10-12)

Where are you living now?

I commute across several European cities regularly, at least pre-Covid I did, predominantly London, Munich and Luxembourg. Nowadays, I am back in Luxembourg. 

What did you do after you left ISL?

After ISL, I went straight to Imperial College in London for university studies.

What did you study at University?

I did a Masters in Engineering and a PhD in Aeronautical Engineering at Imperial College London.

What are you doing now?

After my studies and research time at university, and some time spent in industry, I have taken the leap to be founder & CEO of a start-up in simulation and optimization mathematics for engineering. At Rafinex, we work on latest optimization methods for the design of next-generation e-mobility car platforms, electric airplanes and urban air taxis.

Do you think that your time at ISL helped you pursue this? If yes, how?

ISL was pivotal in growing my ambition, horizon and supporting accessing the university trajectory I pursued. The early support for finding and defining a course of interest to the help with UCAS and interview preparations was invaluable. On the technical content side, the open and creative approach to science teachings, enabling us to experiment with blank-sheet experimental lab setups fostered an investigative and creative research mindset that I benefited from until today, but particularly during my studies and research years. 

What advantages has studying at ISL given you?

In addition to the above-mentioned mindset and technical curiosity, ISL equipped me with good communication and public speaking skills which have ever since come in handy, be it from talks at academic conferences and research institutes worldwide to nowadays public speaking at start-up and industry tradeshows.

What advice would you give students to help them make the most of their time at ISL?

Take fullest advantages of the resources and the supporting people around you to aim high. Be bold, work hard, play hard and have good fun along the way. ISL offers abundant potential of opportunity, find your goal and leverage this potential. 

Were you involved in any clubs/activities at ISL? What did you enjoy about them and what benefit do you think they have for students?

I wasn’t involved in any society or after-school clubs as I was busy with my equestrian activities. However, those around me in sports or humanities were very much enjoying the diverse offerings and the travel opportunities that came with them. For myself, I did participate in several mathematics competitions for ISL. 

Describe some of the things that ISL does above and beyond teaching and learning:

The support from teachers and fellow students in creating a positive and supportive learning environment were and remain a gold standard in my experiences of different educational systems. I was only ever supported and had doors opened for me when I asked for it. Hence, it doesn’t come as a surprise that I do remain in touch with some of my former teachers to date, even meeting them in far locations such as Singapore when my PhD research took me there. 

How did your time at ISL help shape you as a person?

It made me more ambitious and more at ease about pursuing dreams and being comfortable with succeeding in them. It takes a certain courage to speak up, be stubborn and persevere. 

What do you think is unique about ISL?

The positive learning atmosphere where achievements were encouraged.

Describe ISL in 5 words: My launchpad to the world.

P.S. I was on a full scholarship ride – so very many thanks for that. Please pass on my regards to Ms. Crush



  • Alumni