Science Minister Olschowski: "All of Baden-Württemberg benefits from Aalen's innovative spirit"Ceremony for Aalen University’s 60th anniversary

During her introductory visit to Aalen University, Science Minister Petra Olschowski learned about current research projects during her tour of the research building - here with President Prof. Dr. Harald Riegel (left) and Vice-President for Research Prof. Dr. Volker Knoblauch. Photo: © Aalen University | Sandro Brezger

Tu, 16. May 2023

It was a very special celebration of looking both back and ahead: Together with around 150 guests from science, business, politics and society, Aalen University celebrated its 60th anniversary last Friday. In 60 years, it has dynamically developed from a small engineering school into a research-intensive and future-oriented talent factory. "Connected to the future" is consequently also the motto of the anniversary year. Science Minister Petra Olschowski, who combined her first visit to the university with the ceremony, also congratulated the university on its birthday: "Aalen University has an outstanding position in our higher education landscape and is known beyond the borders of Baden-Württemberg, particularly thanks to its research strength. Today, the university plays a very significant role - not only in the city of Aalen and the Ostalbkreis district, but in the entire Ostwürttemberg region."

Anniversary Motto "Connected to the Future"

In his welcoming speech, University Rector Prof. Dr. Harald Riegel took a whimsical look back and at the same time built a bridge to the anniversary motto "Connected to the future": "Since 1963, our campus has grown continuously, has been modernized and expanded - from the provisional buildings on the Galgenberg to the landmarked buildings in Beethovenstraße and Burren, and most recently to the Waldcampus. We will need this space as well in order to continue to maintain excellent teaching on an attractive campus for all of our students." In view of the development of the range of courses and the many new and innovative degree programs, particularly in the health sector, Aalen University should now in fact be called Aalen University for Technology, Economics and Health. As an example, he cited the new "Physician Assistant" degree program, which "we were the first university of applied sciences in Baden-Württemberg to include in our study program."

Beacon for Teaching and Research in the Ostwürttemberg Region

He was particularly proud that Aalen University had become one of the strongest research universities for applied sciences in Germany and that students have been able to earn a doctorate at Aalen University since last fall. Mention was also made of the enormous growth in third-party research funding, which currently stands at around 15.5 million euros this year. "And of course we are already making new plans for the future - the keyword here is 'Industry on Campus'. But we can't reveal any more about that at the moment," says Riegel with a grin. A heartfelt thank you was extended to the partnership network with the regional business community and municipal institutions, as well as the many international cooperation partners, sponsors and supporters who accompany the university with a great deal of commitment and motivation. "Further expanding and strengthening these cooperations is an important concern for us," said Riegel, and looking to the future, he summed up: "We want to continue to be the beacon for teaching and research in the Ostwürttemberg region."

Inaugural Visit of the Minister of Science

At the anniversary celebration, Science Minister Petra Olschowski conveyed the state's congratulations: "At Aalen University, the sought-after STEM professionals are trained in a practical manner. In addition, the university, which is particularly strong in research, makes significant contributions with its pronounced start-up culture, especially in the socially relevant topics of sustainability and climate protection. The whole of Baden-Württemberg benefits from Aalen's innovative spirit." Olschowski had already traveled to the university in the early afternoon before the ceremony for her introductory visit, in order to exchange ideas with the rectorate and to find out about current research projects during a tour of the research building. "The research building, which is funded by the federal and state governments, is one of many prime examples of the university's strategic cooperation with the city of Aalen and the Ostalbkreis district," she said. "This intensive cooperation between the university, the city, the district and the regional economy, which has been ongoing for many years, is truly exceptional. All of you here can be justifiably proud of what has been created here on this campus over the past 60 years - and, by the way, so is the state."

"The University has Turned Aalen More International"

The TV host Markus Brock, known from SWR, ZDF and 3sat, led through the ceremony in a charming and entertaining way. "I fit in very well at Aalen University. I was also born in '63, although I'm not as successful," Brock joked. In a roundtable discussion, he interviewed Minister Petra Olschowski and President Prof. Dr. Harald Riegel, as well as Dr. Karl Lamprecht (CEO ZEISS and Chairman of the University Council), District Administrator Dr. Joachim Bläse and Frederick Brütting, Mayor of the City of Aalen, on the importance of the university in the educational landscape and for the Ostwürttemberg region. "The university has made Aalen more international. Many people have come here, bringing great ideas with them. This spirit is enormously important," Mayor Brütting emphasized.

Confident for the Future of Ostwürttemberg

With the specialists it trains, its research and the transfer of knowledge to industry, the university is an important driver for the region, also emphasized District Administrator Dr. Joachim Bläse. "Therefore, despite the massive changes our society is currently experiencing, I am very confident about the future of Ostwürttemberg." University Council Chairman and Zeiss CEO Dr. Karl Lamprecht emphasized that Aalen University increases the attractiveness of the location: "We need a lot of talented, well-educated people. And he added good-humoredly: "We take people from the university and now and then we give some back as professors. So we sort of cover the whole cycle."

Generous Birthday Present

Congratulations were also received from the Sponsors' Association of Aalen University, which is also celebrating its 60th anniversary this year. This association supports teaching and research at the university, especially financially in the area of university equipment. Konrad Grimm, chairman of the association and honorary senator of the university, and managing director Markus Kilian presented a very special birthday gift - a check for 75,000 euros. Since its founding, the Sponsors' Association has supported Aalen University with around one million euros. "That makes about 45 euros a day," Kilian said gleefully.

Exciting Insights into Research and the Start-Up Scene

Short Sciences Pitches encapsulated the thrilling research being conducted at Aalen University. For example, professors Dr. Dagmar Goll, Dr. Iman Taha, Dr. Regina Kempen and Dr. Doris Aschenbrenner provided insights into the topics of sustainable energy transition, artificial intelligence and modern working life. Three founders from the Innovation Center at Aalen University also presented themselves in pitches: Max Metz from Scope Sorting presented how waste can be better recycled with the help of AI. IT expert Sandra Jörg from Blackpin detailed the development of a mobile messenger that enables secure communication in an encrypted and closed system. And Katja Schlichting from Q.big 3D has made it her mission to make large-scale 3D printing economically viable for industry.

A Magical Anniversary Evening

The ceremony was musically framed by the band "Sunny Side Up" and the pianist Claus Wengenmayr. And after the amazing insights into the research and start-up scene at Aalen University, the national and international multiple award-winning illusionist Julius Frack continued to amaze the guests with magical close-up illusions - a truly magical anniversary evening.