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Q&A with Dr. Friedrich Wolf-Monheim, FISITA's VP Education

Dr. Friedrich Wolf-Monheim is working as a Project Manager within the Global Ford Research and Advanced Engineering Organization based at the Ford Research and Innovation Center in Aachen, Germany, as well as a Lecturer at the Institute of Structural Mechanics and Lightweight Design of the RWTH Aachen University. Before joining Ford, he studied Mechanical Engineering and obtained his doctorate at the RWTH Aachen University.

Friedrich is also FISITA’s VP Education. Speaking in this capacity, he outlines the key technical and educational topics that the Education committee are addressing and also talks about how FISITA membership can help the industry develop future products and services.

Please could you outline your current role and responsibilities?

I am currently serving FISITA as Vice President Education and as a Member of the Executive Board. As Vice President Education I am leading the Education Committee with renowned experts from various different countries around the world with either an academic or an industrial background.

When and why did you join FISITA, and what does your FISITA role involve?

I first joined FISITA in 2008 as a grant holder of the FISITA travelling fellowship program. This program is one of the great examples of what FISITA has to offer to support students and young engineers to start their career in the mobility industry. Students and young engineers can join the FISITA World Congress, present a technical paper and get the chance to participate in a full extra week with a special program of visits to key automotive and mobility companies in the country where the FISITA World Congress takes place. This is a unique opportunity to get in touch with the global automotive and mobility industry in the respective country. The location of the FISITA World Congress which is held every two years changes continuously. In 2018 the Congress took place in Chennai (India) and in 2020 the congress was supposed to take place in the Prague (Czech Republic). However, due to the corona pandemic it was decided to move the congress to 2021 as a fully virtual event to enable many people to join from around the world. We very much hope to be able to offer the 2023 FISITA World Congress as a hybrid event in Barcelona (Spain) to be able to connect with the international community both in person as well as online.

What are the key technical and educational topics that your committee is addressing?

Most importantly, our business plan is evolving from ideas our members are bringing forward since FISITA is a truly member-led organization to progress key projects and initiatives in the pre-competitive area.

The first key topic I would like to mention here is the FISITA Mentor Scheme (FMS) we are currently developing. In our rapidly changing times mentoring is more important than ever for students and young engineers. Many are searching for advice for instance with regards to their first professional work experience. They would like to know for example whether to start an industrial career or to stay at the university. Others are potentially coming from a more traditional field of engineering and are in the process of changing direction towards a new technology area like for example in the area of artificial intelligence. Others are interested in the right choice of their personal future educational steps like for example a specific master’s, MBA or PhD program. Our vision for the FISITA Mentor Scheme (FMS) is to set up a lean and flexible international mentoring program to meet the needs of future generations of mobility engineering students and young professionals.

Next to the FISITA Mentor Scheme (FMS) the Education Committee is joining forces with other FISITA committees like for example the Technical Committee to develop cutting-edge online conferences on key topics relevant for the automotive and mobility industry. But the Education Committee is also committed to support major FISITA publications like for example white papers and the committee promotes knowledge sharing in the most relevant international educational fields. The clear vision of the Education Committee is to foster the dialogue between industry and academia to support the continuous learning and development process of mobility engineers.

This brings me to another main focus area of the Education Committee business plan and this is the development of mechanisms to support lifelong learning. The importance of lifelong learning becomes more and more important since the technological challenges we all are facing are becoming more and more complex. Successful companies of the future will have to make sure to offer their employees access to state of the art learning programs to be able to develop future products in a multi-disciplinary way in innovative areas like for example connectivity, artificial intelligence or mobility services.

How can people participate, and how would they benefit from joining the committee?

Joining the Education Committee can be a real benefit, especially when you are interested in educational topics either from an industrial or from an academic point of view. You can reach out to FISITA in many ways like for example joining international events like the biennial FISITA World Congress or EuroBrake which is an annual event. We are looking forward to hearing from you with your innovative ideas and initiatives to jointly make our contribution to a future education system that is prepared for the diverse challenges of tomorrow.

How can FISITA membership help the industry develop future products and services?

FISITA membership offers companies from the automotive and mobility areas an unparalleled bundle of advantages. The first benefit I always mention is the opportunity to quickly connect with other FISITA members around the globe by becoming a member of the global FISITA family. FISITA serves as a pre-competitive platform to join forces to address the most challenging tasks around the future of mobility where many people would like to be mobile on the one hand, but global warming is forcing us to find technical solutions so that future mobility can be sustainable. There are a whole lot of other advantages you get from a FISITA membership like for example the access to a huge library of technical content and latest technology trends with over 10,000 technical papers available with member access. The topics of these publications cover a wide range of key technological areas our industries are involved with including the latest thinking around potential solutions.

To find out more about FISITA membership, contact my FISITA colleague, Kelly Williams.

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