70 Years of Fraunhofer – a reason for the institutes in Rhineland-Palatinate to celebrate

Press Release /

#WHATSNEXT: On 6 November 2019, the Fraunhofer Institutes in Rhineland-Palatinate (IESE and ITWM from Kaiserslautern, IMM from Mainz) celebrated 70 Years of Fraunhofer at the Fraunhofer Center in Kaiserslautern. The joint celebration was followed by a Career Night for students.

In the spring of 1949, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der angewandten Forschung e.V. was founded in Munich to help rebuild Germany’s de-industrialized post-war economy. Today, 70 years later, it is Europe’s largest applied research organization, with 72 institutes. Three of these institutes that do research on topics related to the digital future are located in Rhineland-Palatinate: the Fraunhofer Institutes for Experimental Software Engineering IESE and for Industrial Mathematics ITWM in Kaiserslautern as well as the Fraunhofer Institute for Microengineering and Microsystems IMM in Mainz. They celebrated the anniversary on 6 November 2019 under the title “Fraunhofer is shaping the digital future in Rhineland-Palatinate”, together with numerous representatives from government, industry, and research. After the official celebration, the second Career Night, an information and networking event for MINT students, took place, also at the Fraunhofer Center in Kaiserslautern.

The motto of the Fraunhofer anniversary year is “70 Years of Fraunhofer, 70 Years of Future, WHATSNEXT”. In line with this motto, the directors of the three Fraunhofer Institutes Prof. Anita Schöbel, Prof. Peter Liggesmeyer, and Prof. Michael Maskos together with their guests and keynote speakers reflected on what has been achieved and, above all, looked ahead to the future. The welcoming address was given by Prof. Dr. Konrad Wolf, Minister for Science, Continuing Education and Culture of the State of Rhineland-Palatinate: “I warmly congratulate the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft on its 70-year history of success to date, and look forward to its continuance”, said Minister Wolf. “This anniversary is also a nice occasion for the three Rhineland-Palatinate Fraunhofer Institutes to present themselves with their research. The research done by Fraunhofer in Rhineland-Palatinate makes an outstanding contribution to linking the great topics of the future, such as health, resource efficiency, or agriculture, to the opportunities offered by digitalization.”

Digital solutions make agriculture, chemistry, and medicine viable for the future

From the perspective of industry, August Altherr, director of the John Deere European Technology Innovation Center, presented his vision of a digital agriculture with a focus on balancing sustainability and efficiency: “Digitalization in agriculture will take us from autonomous vehicles via autonomous work in the field to autonomous, process-driven agriculture. Just as in Industrie 4.0, each field will get a “Digital Twin”, which will enable us to optimize agricultural processes both economically and ecologically.”

Dr. Christoph Großmann, Director Smart Manufacturing at BASF SE, explained how Fraunhofer supports the chemical company in exploiting the potential of digitalization: “With the help of digital solutions, we can understand complex interrelationships among processes in our plants even better and optimize them. This helps us lift our production to a new level. We rely on intensive collaboration with Fraunhofer to further strengthen our leading role in the digitalization of the chemical industry. Interdisciplinary exchange helps us to expand our know-how and to develop new, innovative digital solutions.”

Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Kaminski, medical director at the Bioscientia Institute for Medical Diagnostics, pointed out which new opportunities digitalization offers in health care. “In the future, the use of the health data available in laboratory medicine will make it possible to detect diseases earlier and more reliably. Bioscientia has already started with that.”

Representatives from government and research also ventured a look into the digital future, including Univ.-Prof. Dr. Georg Krausch (President of Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz), Prof. Dr. Hans-Joachim Schmidt (President of the Kaiserslautern University of Applied Sciences), and Member of the German Parliament Johannes Klomann (Chairman of the Committee for Science, Continuing Education and Culture of the State of Rhineland-Palatinate).

Solving riddles with teamwork

Right after the celebration, the Career Night started, which included the Fraunhofer Escape Game: More than 100 students as well as graduates of MINT programs got to know Fraunhofer as an employer, received hints for their job application, and made contacts. The highlight of the evening was the Fraunhofer Escape Game: In a replica office, the teams solved riddles relating to the world of Fraunhofer. This called for team spirit, combinatory skills, and brains, because it was all about linking clues and cracking codes together. “The Escape Game really welded us together as a group; together we had to solve puzzles, which were conveyed in an exciting way with high-tech aids such as VR glasses or smartphones. When we finally managed to open the safe in time, we were all incredibly happy”, said Kerstin Nicolay from Fraunhofer ITWM.

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