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Volkswagen Group: PhD Event showcases work on Industry 4.0, e-mobility and autonomous driving

At the Volkswagen Group’s 2017 PhD Event, about 500 specialist visitors informed themselves about current research work on the key topic of “Transforming Mobility Together”. A total of 390 young scientists are currently working on their doctoral theses within the Volkswagen Group. Today, 87 of them presented their work at the MobileLifeCampus in Wolfsburg. Main topics were in the fields of e-mobility, Industry 4.0 and autonomous driving.

Dr. Karlheinz Blessing, Member of the Board of Management responsible for Human Resources, Organization and IT, said: “The automotive industry is in a process of transformation. At Volkswagen, we are determined to exploit the opportunities offered by digitalization, e-mobility and Industry 4.0. However, innovation can only succeed with a team of highly motivated employees with top-class qualifications.”

The Volkswagen Group and its brands cooperate throughout the world with renowned universities and research institutes in a variety of disciplines and are supporting 390 young women and men working on their doctorates. Blessing: “We offer young researchers the best possible conditions for working on innovative projects – both in Group Research and within our brands. The spectrum ranges from technical development, information technology, human resources and production to environmental protection.”

Prof. Dr. Jürgen Leohold, Head of AutoUni in Wolfsburg, said: “Our PhD students are working on topics and technologies which will change the automobile and mobility. Their work is making a key contribution to science, the economy and the Volkswagen Group. In addition, our engineers and specialists highly appreciate cooperation with the young researchers and the impetus they provide for new approaches and solution strategies.”

Stephan Wolf, Vice Chairman of the Group Works Council, said: “Time and again, I have been thrilled by our PhD Event. The variety and quality of the research projects are really impressive. This way, we can strengthen the innovative power of all our Group brands. The Works Council thanks the young women and men for their performance. They are not only working on their theses but also contributing to the future viability of Volkswagen as team members in our specialist departments.”

PhD students from the brands Volkswagen Passenger Cars, MAN, Porsche, Scania, SEAT and Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles as well as from Volkswagen Truck & Bus presented their work at the MobileLifeCampus in Wolfsburg. Seven of the young scientists are conducting research in the field of drive and vehicle technology, 10 in autonomous driving, 22 in e-mobility, four in IT, electronics and communication, 14 in Industry 4.0, four in strategy and logistics, three in human resources and organization, four in procurement and quality assurance, five in economics and the environment, nine in virtual vehicle development and five in materials and production. Experienced specialists, young scientists and the professors supervising their work exchanged views in 22 specialist presentations, during tours focusing on the keynote topics and at the exhibition stands and exhibits of the young researchers.

Some examples of the work presented:

  • In the focus area of Industry 4.0, Barbara Theresia Wulfken is investigating the future requirements with respect to the range of management tasks resulting from technological and organizational change with Volkswagen Sachsen in Zwickau.
  • In the field of economics and the environment, Manuel Kleinhenz is investigating applications for exhaust gas treatment for diesel engines in inland shipping with MAN Diesel & Turbo, Augsburg. At Dresden University of Technology, Elisabeth Nunweiler is developing an evaluation system with environmental factors for Group Research Environment and Production.
  • In the human resources and organization field, with the Volkswagen Academy, Jessica Guth is investigating how an “ambidextrous” management style can help teams find ideas and influence processes for Ideas Management.
  • In the driver and vehicle technology sector, with Volkswagen Passenger Cars, Baopu Qian is developing calculation methods to determine the stress on individual components by assessing on-board network data on test vehicles.
  • As regards autonomous driving, Stephan Herold, Group Research Vehicle Concepts, outlined a technology strategy for the performance of future services on self-driving electric vehicle fleets by service robots.

“We doctoral students discuss a variety of specialist and overarching topics with each other. One good example of cooperation between us is today’s PhD Event, which we have organized and shaped ourselves,” said Lukas Mathias Klink, who headed the 2017 PhD Event working group together with Felix Heinrich. Philipp Kirchner, one of the two spokespersons of the doctoral students together with Kirsten Beuscher, emphasized: “Our theses always have specific practical relevance. This is a win-win situation. We doctoral students are helped by the know-how and experience of colleagues in the specialist departments and we contribute new methods and the results of scientific research.”

The Volkswagen Group PhD student program

PhD students at Volkswagen complete their doctorates within three years, cooperating closely with the universities and professors who support them as well as the relevant specialist department, which nominates a mentor to guide them during their research. There are opportunities for permanent employment at Volkswagen once the doctorate has been completed. The PhD student forum (Doktorandenkolleg) fosters networking among the young scientists and organizes activities in the form of working groups which it manages itself.

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