"Smaller, lighter, faster" - this was the motto of a conference attended by some 30 secondary school teachers of math, physics, chemistry and biology at the premises of automotive supplier Brose at the end of July. The conference focused on technological trends in the industry and was organized by the Würzburg-based IJF (Initiative Junge Forscherinnen und Forscher e.V.), an association promoting the training of young "scientists" in future technologies. The conference
program included in-depth presentations and a tour of the plant providing insight in Brose's day-to-day operations.Dr. Ruth Jesse of the IJF summed up the conference objective: "We want students to discover innovations before these advances make their way into textbooks. This usually takes some time and often the technology is already outdated before the textbooks are published." The conference topics therefore focused on mechatronic systems, modern adhesives and research in resource preservation. In addition to Brose, the adhesives specialist Celanese chemicals group and the Fraunhofer Institute for silicate research in Würzburg presented their latest developments in these areas.
Brose: Weight reduction and higher efficiency are mega trends
The head of Brose's advanced development department, Dr. Christina Hack, explained in her lecture the impact of the EU emissions requirements on the work of the automotive supplier: "Consequently, reducing weight and increasing vehicle efficiency are mega trends in the automotive industry and the target of our development activities. At the same time, customer demand for enhanced safety and comfort is rising steadily - reconciling all these aspects is a true challenge." The advances that have been made in door systems are excellent examples of this, according to Hack. By using carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic, Brose managed to cut weight by 4 kg compared to aluminum doors and by 11 kg compared to steel, while increasing crash safety.
The participants responded quite positively to the conference concept. "I learned a great deal today about how future technologies are applied in actual business," said Michael Hümmer, a math and physics instructor at the Siebold Gymnasium in Würzburg, summarizing his experience. "The conference topics can be perfectly integrated in our propaedeutic and project seminars and give students the opportunity to establish contact with companies such as Brose."
Michael Stammberger, Manager Apprenticeship HR Brose Group, was also satisfied with the outcome: "As a technology-oriented company we want to raise interest among children and young people for natural sciences and technology. One element is our collaboration with Initiative Junge Forscherinnen und Forscher. We are on the right track by providing teachers with up-to-date and practice-oriented information, and I hope that this example catches on."