On 1.6.2020 Prof. Dr.-Ing. habil. Rainer Fechte-Heinen will take up his position as new managing director and head of the Department of Materials Engineering at Leibniz-IWT and as head of the MPA Bremen and succeed Prof. Dr.-Ing. Hans-Werner Zoch. Mr. Fechte-Heinen's career began with his studies of mechanical engineering with the focus on material simulation and mechanics and the subsequent doctorate. After successfully completing his studies, he began his many years of work in materials development at thyssenkrupp Steel Europe AG and at the same time worked on his habilitation, became involved in teaching and was appointed honorary professor at Ruhr University Bochum in 2018. But who is Prof. Dr. Fechte-Heinen in private, how does he see Leibniz-IWT and what is his vision for the institute?
Prof. Fechte-Heinen, what attracted you most to working at Leibniz-IWT and the University of Bremen?
There would be quite a lot of different answers to this question, because the Leibniz-IWT, the materials engineering there and the MPA Bremen are very diverse and in each of their fields of activity they not only have experienced and successful experts, but also equipment that can only be found at a few research institutes. In addition, an important focus is on the material steel, which has occupied me for many years and fascinates me again and again. In Department 4 Production Engineering, a unique combination of expertise is represented, among other things in materials technology. I am looking forward to being able to contribute to this environment!
What are you most looking forward to?
To the good cooperation with my new colleagues and employees. Leibniz-IWT stands for active cooperation between materials engineering, production engineering and process engineering, and I am looking forward to continuing this. And in my talks in Bremen, I have repeatedly noted that this is much more than just a historically grown alliance of different research fields: I have already been able to exchange ideas with a number of people at Leibniz-IWT and have already come to appreciate the combination of enthusiasm and technical competence that has led to exciting common topics in each of these discussions. By the way, the same applies to Department 4 Production Engineering, where I would like to be involved in teaching and research from the very beginning. Therefore, I simply found my "dream job" at Leibniz-IWT and the University of Bremen.
What is important to you for the future?
Above all, Leibniz-IWT must remain what it has been up to now, both for its staff and for the various cooperation partners in industry and science: a reliable, competent and strong partner in research and development and in services. In addition, I see a number of topics that could very well complement the research landscape of Leibniz-IWT and in which I already have some experience. I am looking forward to tackling many of them soon together with the relevant participants at Leibniz-IWT. My vision of the future could be summarized, if you want to put it that way, by the words "further developing what is tried and tested and adding what is appropriate".
What will probably be the first thing you will tackle after taking office?
First of all, I will take care to get to know the staff of Leibniz-IWT better as quickly as possible, despite the current situation. I would have liked best to hold a larger event for all employees to introduce myself and also give them the opportunity to talk to each other personally. Unfortunately, this will not be possible in the current situation. For the first few weeks we have therefore made appointments with the heads of department at IWT Materials Technology and MPA and other important contacts to discuss, among other things, how I can introduce myself to the employees instead.
How do you assess the current situation regarding the Covid 19 pandemic and the resulting economic impact?
We can all read in the press every day about the serious consequences of the pandemic for all areas of life. This also applies to Leibniz-IWT. I am very glad that an early response was made here and that prudent action was taken with the involvement of the relevant authorities.
Of course, many measures take a lot of getting used to and especially the personal contact is missing - especially for those who, like me, are new at the institute. But the early and consistent reaction in Germany gives rise to the justified hope that slow relaxation of the measures is possible in the near future - although the pandemic is far from over. At the IWT, we will also be looking closely at what is needed and for how long. I was also involved in the close coordination in advance and will continue to do so accordingly. Another aspect for the Leibniz-IWT are the economic consequences, because this year and next year will of course be much more difficult for our institute than it would have been without the pandemic. But fortunately we are so well positioned that we will undoubtedly also master this difficult time together.
Do you have a connection to the city of Bremen or have you already settled in well?
I got to know the city of Bremen over ten years ago during a holiday with my wife and we felt at home here right away: Bremen has a flair all of its own for me. It's nice to live in a big city with the right facilities and still be able to do everything by bike. That was not always the case in the Ruhr area.
What do you like to do in your free time? What is important to you as a private person?
The most important things are first of all friends and family. I like to travel with my wife and together we have already visited all continents - except South America, where I have only been alone so far. But my favourite hobby is sailing. At the age of 16 I made the corresponding certificates and even now at the age of 40 I still regularly find time to take a trip or a sailing holiday with my club. For this purpose I often went to Northern Germany during the last years.
What would you have become if you hadn't become an engineer/scientist?
As a teenager I wanted to become a translator for a long time, because at school I always liked to work with foreign languages besides mathematics and physics. Since I didn't know any engineers, I didn't initially have the idea of turning my fascination with technology into a profession. This would have been obvious, as I not only liked to ride and ride my motorbike, but also to repair my vintage motorcycles myself. But fortunately I was able to find out about engineering sciences at an information event on choosing a career and have not regretted my subsequent decision to take this path for a second.
Do you have a personal formula for success or a motto?
I'm not sure whether you can call it a formula for success, but I have found that many topics are all the more fascinating when you spend more time and effort on them. Therefore I am always happy to familiarize myself with new tasks and topics and have done so relatively often.
Let's take steel as an example: time and again I meet people who don't understand what there is still to be researched about. Then I am happy to explain how, for example, developments in recent decades have significantly increased crash safety and performance in cars, while reducing the weight and installation space of the body and transmission... and then I usually find that nobody wants to do without what has been achieved here through innovations in materials technology!