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Tangible Results: DFG Initiatives in Internationalizing Manufacturing Engineering

Barbara Linke and Ferdinand Hollmann at the Engineering Design Showcase

Barbara Linke and Ferdinand Hollmann at the Engineering Design Showcase

After four years of attending the Manufacturing Science and Engineering Conference (MSEC) with the initiative “Research in Germany“ (RiG), the German Research Foundation (DFG) is now partnering with the National Science Foundation (NSF) in promoting transatlantic collaboration in manufacturing engineering research.

This year’s Manufacturing Science and Engineering Conference (MSEC) from June 4 through 6 was hosted by the Viterbi School of Engineering at the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles. After having visited the last four MSEC conferences under the umbrella “Research in Germany“ (RiG) and having laid the foundation for funding opportunities for collaborative research projects, Ferdinand Hollmann (program director for manufacturing engineering at the DFG head office in Bonn, Germany) and Stefan Altevogt (DFG North America Office) visited MSEC 2017 to present a preliminary balance sheet. In 2016, Hollmann had not only succeeded in organizing a workshop together with colleagues from NSF to address the obstacles on both sides of the Atlantic that hinder collaborative research projects, but he also succeeded in reaching an agreement with NSF to accept a small number of pilot projects as potential future collaborations. What followed was a joint evaluation by NSF and the DFG last May, the announcement of another round of pilot project this coming fall, and the prospect of a workshop next year to assess the pilots; these results were outlined during Hollmann’s presentation at the DFG Science Lunch at MSEC on June 5. Hollmann also discussed the exceptional quality and breadth of Germany’s manufacturing engineering research, the generously endowed funding landscape for study and research in Germany, and the International Research Training Group “Physical Modeling for Virtual Manufacturing Systems and Processes“ (IRTG 2057, Kaiserslautern, Berkeley, Davis) as an example for best practices in transatlantic research collaboration.

The audience at the DFG Science Lunch

The audience at the DFG Science Lunch

While on the West Coast, Hollmann and Altevogt also followed an invitation by Barbara Linke (Professor for for Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the University of California, Davis) to visit the UC Davis campus and meet with Jean VanderGheyst (Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies), Roland Faller (Chair, Department for Chemical Engineering), Stephen Robinson (Chair, Department for Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering), Jeff Gibeling (Chair, Departments for Material Science and Engineering), and Joanna Regulska (Vice Provost and Associate Chancellor for Global Affairs) for in-depth discussions on international research cooperation and student mobility. Hollmann and Altevogt also participated in the judging panel for the annual Engineering Design Showcase of Bachelors in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, and Civil and Environmental Engineering. This visit provided great insight into engineering education at US research universities as a whole, but also showed the potential for transatlantic collaboration specifically with UC Davis.

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