In the Volkswagen Group young people around the world are working on their dissertation or thesis. They research new materials and develop innovative engineering concepts. They give driver assistance systems a voice or figure out what drives progress. They all have one goal in common – to create the car of the future.
CAROLINE RUDZINSKI, 34, AN ECONOMICS GRADUATE, is researching the wisdom of the crowd – are groups unusually intelligent and perhaps smarter than the experts from their midst? Can crowdsourcing function as a source of information for strategic business decisions, such as the development of technologies and trends? Caroline is approaching her doctorate on the topic pragmatically, testing the theory under practical conditions in a virtual “information market” to obtain concrete results. “Developing and trying out new approaches in a global company like Volkswagen is a fascinating task.” Swedish-born Caroline believes in the wisdom of the crowd: “Addressing something on a large scale increases companies’ awareness of strategically relevant topics.”
COLLINS NTCHOUZOU NGANKO, 32, IS COMPLETING HIS SECOND DEGREE IN MECHANICAL ENGINEERING. “I love tinkering”, says the Cameroonian. But he is even more passionate about “thinking ahead”. He is a keen chess player. A good match – his dissertation also requires foresight. His topic: a contribution to the methodological design of lightweight floor structures with an integrated battery system for electric vehicles. This involves wall thicknesses and vibrational behavior, innovative lightweight construction and efficient engineering design processes. “The fascinating part is bringing together a wide range of knowledge from various disciplines”, says Collins. His findings are helping to make the car of the future more intelligent and more sustainable. This vision is his inspiration. He wants to continue researching and developing new ideas in this field. “Where ver I am in the world, the most important thing is that I am at Volkswagen.”
CHEN-YUNG SU, 36, STUDIED PSYCHOLOGY IN TAIWAN BEFORE MOVING TO GERMANY IN 2004. His dream job? “Research, research, research”, says Chen-Yung Su without skipping a beat. He stumbled across the field of transportation psychology during his studies. This led him to Volkswagen. In his dissertation, Chen-Yung is examining verbal communication between the car and the driver. Or more precisely, the question of how assistance systems best make themselves heard – and most quickly – in terms of the type of message and how it is phrased. To find this out, he spent a year with the automated driving experts at the Volkswagen Group of America’s Electronics Research Laboratory (ERL) in California. What motivates Chen-Yung? “Finding and then stretching the limits of human knowledge.” And what does he want from the mobility of tomorrow? “Zero emissions, zero accidents, zero stress and plenty of driving pleasure.”
JANINE KREBS, 28, IS STUDYING MANAGEMENT ENGINEERING, SPECIALIZING IN MECHANICAL ENGINEERING. She values the “space for free thinking and ideas” offered by research and development in the Volkswagen Group. “Inspiration is what drives science forward”, she says. Her interest in math, chemistry and physics started at school. This led to a passion for technology. She wrote her diploma thesis on reducing friction in combustion engines. In her doctoral thesis, she is investigating tool coating for an innovative manufacturing process for high-quality plastic components. At the same time, Janine is looking at new materials to simplify thermal management in the vehicle of the future. You only have to listen to her to find out a great deal about the new materials that are driving progress in automotive construction: “They will shape the car of tomorrow in many different ways – in terms of safety and comfort, but they will equally play an important role in resource conservation.”