For the first time, selected young tech talents from all over Germany were invited to attend the 13th German Engineering Summit on October 11 and 12 in Berlin, where they had a chance to discuss current issues at eye level with top decision-makers from the engineering industry as well as from science and politics. Their tickets and their stay in Berlin were sponsored by the Wittenstein Foundation.
Over 1000 applications from students of mechanical and electrical engineering and computer science were received by the organizer, the German Engineering Federation (VDMA), for this networking event at what is German industry’s leading congress. In the end, 30 of them were given the opportunity to meet, discuss and network with political figures such as Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Federal Minister for Economics and Climate Action Robert Habeck, Member of the Bundestag Anton Hofreiter and US Ambassador Amy Gutmann as well as high-profile executives and CEOs of major industrial companies at the German Engineering Summit.
Promoting a culture of dialog
For Dr Anna-Katharina Wittenstein, a member of the Board of Trustees and representative of the Wittenstein Foundation at the student event, it was an easy decision to sponsor the 30 two-day tickets: “The VDMA and the Wittenstein Foundation are united by a common goal: to make it immediately clear to young people at the threshold of professional life that the great challenges of our time – for example, questions such as energy efficiency, environmental protection, sustainable management and the shortage of skilled workers – cannot be overcome in the ivory towers of individual scientific disciplines or social groups. On the contrary, what is needed here is a debate transcending national borders as well as constructive arguing and wrestling in the search for the most promising approaches for shaping our shared future.” Above all, the aim is that experiencing how business and politics use the Engineering Summit as an exchange platform will show the next generation of engineers the importance of changes of perspective, networking and a culture of dialog in today’s transformation society.
Exchange at eye level
Along with highly informative lectures, panel discussions and a trade exhibition, the round table with outstanding business personalities was the highlight for the technology students. Questions such as “Does smart production with AI and robots inevitably lead to job losses?” or “What impact do digitalization, AI, blockchains and the like have on climate?” as well as meaningful measures for attracting young specialists to rural SMEs were discussed in small groups and the results presented in plenary. “It was great to see how open the different companies were towards us and how interested they are in what we think”, said Jördis Krieger, a computer science student at OTH Regensburg. The students also took part in the exclusive VDMA evening event, where they were able to further intensify the contacts they had made previously – both with entrepreneurs and with each other. During the final session on the second day of the Summit, both sides called for a repeat of the networking event next year and stated their intention to remain networked with “their” tech talents in the long term.
For the first time, sponsorship by the Wittenstein Foundation enabled 30 students from the fields of mechanical and electrical engineering and computer science to attend the German Engineering Summit in Berlin.
The round table with outstanding business personalities was the highlight for the technology students.