Events for Fraunhofer-Alumni

Exclusive events or free trade fair tickets - benefit from special conditions as a Fraunhofer Alumni!

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Mentoring - A new programme for Alumni

As a member of Alumni e.V. you are invited to get involved as a mentor or within the framework of an industrial partnership for young start-ups. Are you planning to start your own business? Accompany a young team or get started with exciting Fraunhofer technologies! Information and contacts can also be found in our Fraunhofer Alumni Portal.

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Since 2016, the Fraunhofer-Alumni e.V. has been offering an international network for experts with many advantages and a constantly growing range of services across industries and disciplines.

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Review 4th Fraunhofer Alumni Summit

Dr. Michael Mertin, alumnus of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology (ILT), former board member for technology/operational business at JENOPTIK AG and now working as a consultant, moderated the evening and the panel discussion.
© Fraunhofer / Nell Jones
Dr. Michael Mertin, alumnus of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology (ILT), former board member for technology/operational business at JENOPTIK AG and now working as a consultant, moderated the evening and the panel discussion.
Führung für die Ehemaligen am Fraunhofer IPK.
© Fraunhoer / Nell Jones
Guided tour for the alumni of the Fraunhofer IPK.
Führung am IPK.
© Fraunhofer / Nell Jones
IPK researchers explain the technology behind the demonstrators.

AI already permeates many spheres of life today. At the 4th Fraunhofer Alumni Summit in Berlin on 20 November, many of the attending former employees of Fraunhofer were able to form a comprehensive picture – on tours of the Fraunhofer IPK, the Heinrich Hertz Institute or through the high-caliber speakers from the fields of politics, science, research and economics at the summit's specialist symposium. And of course there were plenty of networking opportunities for the former personnel of the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft.

More than 130 participants came to Berlin on November 20 for the 4th Fraunhofer Alumni Summit at the Fraunhofer IPK and Fraunhofer HHI. For many of the visitors it was a reunion with their former workplace. The Fraunhofer Institute for Production Systems and Design Technology IPK impressed with presentations in the large works hall and with AI-based solutions, for AI-supported gripping in robotic arms for instance. The Fraunhofer Institute for Telecommunications, Heinrich-Hertz-Institut HHI, presented the latest research in optimizing 5G mobile communication technologies with the support of AI. In the HHI's TiME Lab (Tomorrow’s Immersive Media Experience Lab), visitors could also get an idea of how we will experience cinema films in future.

The highlight of the evening was the Summit Night with its presentations and the podium discussion. "In 2019 we are celebrating 70 years of Fraunhofer, our alumni were part of this success and contributed to the fact that in 2019, the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft has grown into an organization with just about 28,000 employees and turnover of around 2.8 billion euros," said Prof. Alexander Kurz, Chairman of the Board and Executive Vice President Human Resources, Legal Affairs and IP Management of the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft. "But figures aren't everything, and today it is mainly about contents and people." In terms of content, Dr. Michael Mertin, Management Consultant, Executive Vice President of Fraunhofer-Alumni e.V. and Fraunhofer ILT alumnus, moderated the evening.

Augmented intelligence und domain knowledge

Dr. Roland Busch, Deputy Chairman of the Managing Board, CTO and Member of the Managing Board of Siemens AG, used impressive examples to illustrate how Siemens AG benefits from the use of artificial intelligence: "Previously we told robots what they should do. Tomorrow the machines will decide for themselves how to do it."

Siemens is thus training industrial robots that independently grip completely different work pieces. Another example is an autonomous tram which avoids accidents with the aid of artificial intelligence. The driver can therefore concentrate on other tasks.

"Everything is becoming digital and we at Siemens believe that the combination of AI and domain knowledge is decisive. Therefore we are also not investing in general AI for the solution of arbitrary problems, but are concentrating on very specific issues," said Dr Busch. An example of this is a pilot project in purchasing at Siemens. The company has around 200,000 suppliers and every year purchases goods and services for around 40 billion euros via around three million orders. "For certain purchasing patterns we use AI algorithms and apply a limit to essential data such as supplier, time of delivery and historical values – in view of the magnitude of the data, the computer can make such decisions better than purchasing personnel. They can then concentrate on strategic topics." Thanks to this augmented intelligence solution, the company could save a significant amount, says Busch.

The fact that a companion approach can lead to better results is also shown in the evaluation of radiology data. "The best results are achieved when AI and the radiologist work together. The system makes a pre-selection and the medics ultimately make the decision," explains Busch. "We don't want to eliminate people, but try to get them to focus on what is essential."

In the case of so-called "Generative Design" artificial intelligence can provide additional value. The company has thus had a high-temperature burner with certain requirements constructed by AI. Inspired by the structure of a fennel bulb, the construction requires 50 percent fewer parts and lower costs by 60 percent. "In this example, the computer has developed a design which an engineer may perhaps never have come up with," said Busch.

The market for artificial intelligence will be worth several billion dollars in the coming years. Nevertheless, Busch also sees constraints, such as data problems for example: highly-paid AI specialists spend 70 percent of their working time on processing data. In many companies – above all in the production sector – there are too few skills in the field of AI. Points such as data security and lack of trust in AI solution conceal additional challenges. Siemens is therefore looking intensively into how AI could be created responsibly, in an explainable and also robust manner.

"Industrial design also requires in-depth domain knowledge," emphasizes Busch. "On the Moscow to St. Petersburg train route, the operators have traveled 13 million kilometers with our trains without a single technical delay. Although there was about as much wear and tear and malfunctions as could be technically expected, our analyses enabled us to predict each imminent failure with a precision of seven to ten days and were able to prevent it though prompt maintenance." However, for this data evaluation very specific knowledge is required. "Therefore it is vital that AI experts work together with the specialist personnel with domain knowledge – a developer cannot work on a solution for a turbine in the morning and optimize a train in the evening."

Matthias Mehlhose erklärt am Monitor im Next Generation Mobile Communication Systems Laboratory des Fraunhofer HHI, welche Rolle künftig KI in der Signalverarbeitung spielen könnte.
© Fraunhofer / Nell Jones
Matthias Mehlhose explains on the monitor in the Next Generation Mobile Communication Systems Laboratory at Fraunhofer HHI what role AI could play in signal processing in the future.
Beeindruckend: Bild und Ton verschmelzen im TiME Lab (Tomorrow’s Immersive Media Experience Lab) des Heinrich-Hertz-Institutes. Somit kann das menschlich Ohr die Quelle eines Geräusches oder eines Tons auf der Videoleinwand orten.
Impressive: Image and sound merge at Fraunhofer HHI, TiME Lab (Tomorrow's immersive Media Experience Lab). This enables the human ear to locate the source of a sound or sound on the video screen. In the picture on the left: Kathleen Schröter, Head of Communication and Marketing at Fraunhofer HHI.
Fraunhofer HHI, 3IT – Innovation Center for Immersive Imaging Technologies
© Fraunhofer / Nell Jones
A scanner for 3D objects at Fraunhofer HHI, 3IT - Innovation Center for Immersive Imaging Technologies.


It is not only at Siemens that it been recognized how decisive trust in AI solutions is. Prof. Thomas Wiegand, Institute Director of the Fraunhofer HHI, is also intensively involved with this topic: "We're backing big data and machine learning. In doing so it is important that we can trust the result of the AI methods. The Deep Neural Nets (DNN) trained by us use up to 125 million parameters in 32 layers and are therefore very complex. In order to understand these, we have, dedicated thereto, laid the mathematical foundations and provided the algorithms."

The Heinrich-Hertz-Institut is working on a process that explains DNNs. "In this way we can show on the input signal and within the DNNs what primarily led to the classification. We create a heatmap which shows a weighting of the most important to the unimportant features of the input signal. With this it can then be checked, for example, why an algorithm detects a building or a boat." With this method, researchers from the HHI have also examined projects from AI competitions. One winning team was particularly successful in identifying pictures showing horses. As shown in the analysis by the HHI, a particular copyright tag was used for this in most cases, the AI thus being trained to this tag.

This back-projection can, however, also be used in applications in the field of health, such as in analyses for EEG and breast cancer. Incorrect diagnoses in the field of medicine can have fatal consequences, for which reason trust in the reliability of artificial intelligence in healthcare is a major problem which the ITU/WHO focus group Artificial Intelligence for Health (FG-AI4H) is currently grappling with. The aims of this group directed by Prof. Wiegand are the certification and bench-marking of processes and approval proceedings for AI applications in the health sector.

Surveillance capitalism

However, according to Prof. Wiegand, trust in artificial intelligence has a further dimension, as he explained following his presentation: "We are experiencing surveillance capitalism in which billions are being earned on the basis of data, which we have never released for such purposes. In the case of life-style data everyone seems really relaxed. But that is a fallacy. For example, as part of a meeting of the FG-AI4H at Columbia University, we received a (not followed-up) proposal for a project to predict the probability of opioid-dependency on the basis of life-style data."

Personal data stored by social media and other platforms are treated with a certain amount of carelessness. With health-related data on the other hand the utmost sensitivity applies. For Prof. Wiegand this example could be a way to comprehensive data protection: "Perhaps we could use the topic of regulation of health-related data to cure us of the other 'data disease', to regulate this data use and democratically get a grip on it."

Like Dr. Busch, Prof. Wiegand also considers domain knowledge as indispensable. "Recording the data is one thing, the other is annotation by doctors. A topic of the FG-AI4H is an international platform for the collaborative recording and annotation of health-related data."

Supercharge your Network as a member of Fraunhofer-Alumni e.V.! And many more benefits!

  • We offer former Fraunhofer employees permanent and systematic networking with excellently trained experts. Benefit from this community via the portal of the Fraunhofer-Alumni e.V.! Nearly 1100 experts and scientists are now connected.
    Our members can also visit the Fraunhofer-Alumni-Summit free of charge in 2020. In 2019 it took place together with the Fraunhofer conference series "FUTURAS IN RES" on artificial intelligence in Berlin and was one of the anchor events for the 70th anniversary celebrations of Fraunhofer.
    Visit other exclusive events of our association such as "»CONNECTING ALUMNI - Erfahrung und Expertise im Dialog" or our INNOVATIONSLOUNGE.
    Accelerate your professional development: Via the Alumni Career Portal you can present your expertise exclusively to the association's renowned sponsoring companies.
    Numerous Fraunhofer events such as the evening festivities at the annual conference of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft or the "Netzwert" are open to you  as a member. You also receive free trade fair tickets for events such as LASER, IAA or MEDICA.

    Benefit from discounts on Fraunhofer offers, such as a discount on seminars at the Fraunhofer FOKUS Academy.

    Use the association portal to obtain exclusive information, reports and interviews from the world of Fraunhofer alumni, job offers.
  • You can network with top-class experts in business and science or meet old acquaintances back again.

    Join us on LinkedIn or Twitter or register as a member of the Fraunhofer-Alumni e.V. here.
Prof. Sami Haddadin, Direktor der Munich School of Robotics and Machine Intelligence der TU München, mehrfacher Unternehmensgründer, Träger des Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz-Preises und Mitglied der EU High-Level Expert Group on Artificial Intelligence und Jeremie Lecomte, Senior Technical Program Manager für Amazons KI-Lösung Alexa bei der Podiumsdiskussion.
© Fraunhofer / Nell Jones
Prof. Sami Haddadin, Director of the Munich School of Robotics and Machine Intelligence at TU Munich, multiple company founder, winner of the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize and member of the EU High-Level Expert Group on Artificial Intelligence and IIS alumnus Jeremie Lecomte, Senior Technical Program Manager for Amazon's AI solution Alexa at the panel discussion.
Prof. Dr. Ina Schieferdecker (links) leitet seit Oktober 2019 die BMBF-Abteilung »Forschung für Digitalisierung und Innovationen«. Zuvor leitete sie Fraunhofer FOKUS. Hier im Bild mit Berthold Butscher, ehemaliger stellvertretender Institutsleiter Fraunhofer FOKUS und heute Consultant an dem Berliner Institut.
© Fraunhofer / Nell Jones
Prof. Dr. Ina Schieferdecker (left) has been head of the BMBF department "Research for Digitization and Innovation" since October 2019. Prior to that she was head of the institute at Fraunhofer FOKUS. The picture shows Berthold Butscher, former deputy director of Fraunhofer FOKUS and now a consultant at the Berlin Institute.
Dr. Reinhard Lenk, Vice President R&D CeramTec GmbH UDN Beirat des Fraunhofer-Alumni e.V., im Gespräch mit Prof. Heinz Gerhäuser, ehemaliger Institutsleiter des Fraunhofer-Instituts für Integrierte Schaltungen IIS und Dr. Hans-Ulrich Wiese und ehemaliger Finanzvorstand der Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft im Gespräch.
© Fraunhofer / Nell Jones
Dr. Reinhard Lenk, Vice President R&D CeramTec GmbH and member of the advisory board of Fraunhofer-Alumni e.V. (left), in conversation with Prof. Heinz Gerhäuser, former Director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS, and Dr. Hans-Ulrich Wiese, former CFO of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, in conversation.

Data protection as cash cow

On the other hand Prof. Michael Waidner, institute director of Fraunhofer SIT sees no contradiction between economic success and comprehensive data protection, on the contrary: "AI is new form of data processing, but it is still data processing. AI is therefore subject to the same rules. Goals can be achieved even with strong data protection." Protected data have so far not prevented innovation, but it is a matter of being creative with these specifications. "Why not therefore develop a solution like Alexa with perfect data protection," said Waidner provocatively. According to the security expert, higher sales could also be achieved in this way.

But this expert knowledge is also absolutely vital in less specialized AI applications, as is made clear by Jeremie Lecomte, Senior Technical Program Manager for Alexa, Amazon. In reply to Dr. Merten's question as to whether in future only companies that hoard masses of data will be successful, the IIS alumnus declared: "Data without human annotation are practically worthless. At Amazon a very large team processes the data for training the AI solutions. As Dr. Busch said, in the case of problems you have to act very specifically and within a narrowly defined area, the same applies for data. General machine learning or upscaled AI are therefore practically impossible."

Don't rebuild humans!

But what precisely is artificial intelligence? The renowned AI expert Prof. Sami Haddadin of the TU Munich and director of Munich School of Robotics and Machine Intelligence adds that to date there is no absolute definition of [human] intelligence. "We should therefore apply an indicted, anecdotal definition. The more complex a system is and the less it can be foreseen what it does, the more we are willing to ascribe a certain intelligence to a system. Behavior patterns should be subject to blurring and the variation in the surrounds should also be included. Finally, we can also talk about AI if in addition to the learning ability, different environments and variations can be meaningfully combined according to certain metrics."

With Prof. Ina Schieferdecker, head of department at the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), a Fraunhofer alumna was also represented in the podium discussion. "With AI solutions we again have a completely new approach to decision support, decision and intelligence; we don't necessarily have to and should not exclusively try to recreate us humans" said the former institute head of the Fraunhofer FOKUS. "After all, the different examples also show that excellent results can be achieved through interaction between humans and AI solutions – here is also where the greatest opportunities lie in the future."

1000th member of Fraunhofer-Alumni e.V.

Prof. Dr. Kurz begrüßt auf der Mitgliederversammlung des Fraunhofer-Alumni e.V. Frau Dr. Edeltraud Leibrock als 1000. Mitglied.
© Fraunhofer-Alumni e.V./Martin Schindler
Prof. Dr. Kurz und Frau Dr. Edeltraud Leibrock

More and more former employees of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft join the Fraunhofer-Alumni e.V. They benefit from a top-class network, events, trade fair visits, exclusive Fraunhofer events and other advantages. At the annual general meeting of Fraunhofer-Alumni e.V., which took place as part of the 4th Fraunhofer Alumni Summit on November 20 in Berlin, Dr. Edeltraud Leibrock, Partner and Managing Director of Connected Innovations GmbH, which she co-founded, was welcomed as the 1,000th member.

"I was very happy to accept the invitation to join the association. It is great to be accepted in this way," explained the entrepreneur. "Networks such as the Fraunhofer Alumni e.V. are an important contribution to the promotion of innovation, I am looking forward to the top-class scientific and professional exchange."


From Fraunhofer IPK back to Brazil as UNIDO ambassador - Dr.-Ing. Rodrigo Pastl

Dr.-Ing. Rodrigo Pastel
© private

Dr.-Ing. Rodrigo Pastl wanted to "learn just a little German" when he came to Berlin from Brazil in 2013. He stayed for almost five years and fulfilled his greatest dream at the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Systems and Design Technology. Equipped with a "black belt" and the right mindset, he is now back home as a climate saver. He is an ambassador for the UNIDO economic program of the United Nations, optimizes biogas plants and he brings German technologies to the tropical region.

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Alumni-Meeting - »E-Mobility, Connected Cars
& Autonomous Driving«

15. Oktober - München

Together with alumni of the University of St. Gallen and the HSG Alumni Club Munich, the Fraunhofer-Alumni e.V. invites you to the Fraunhofer headquarters in Munich on the topic "E-Mobility, Connected Cars & Autonomous Driving". With Prof. Andreas Herrmann, Director at the Institute for Customer Insight, University of St. Gallen (HSG), and Mario Trapp, Director of the Fraunhofer ESK, two internationally renowned experts will talk about new mobility and security concepts. Further lectures, a discussion round and exhibits from the Fraunhofer world on the subject of "autonomous driving" are planned. Networking and a flying buffet will conclude our prelude to "CONNECTING ALUMNI - Experience and Expertise in Dialogue". This series of events is organized by Fraunhofer-Alumni e.V. in cooperation with alumni associations of universities and companies.

More details and registration here.

Academia meets Management - the first INNOVATIONLOUNGE

 More than 120 experts from research and management discussed the opportunities and risks of digitization in medium-sized businesses at the first INNOVATIONLOUNGE of the Fraunhofer Alumni e.V. in Munich. Under the motto "Intelligent networking and AI in production", alumni of the Fraunhofer-Alumni e.V. as well as employees of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft exchanged ideas with managers of Atreus GmbH, a provider of interim management, about current digital technologies in companies. In addition to presentations on the Fraunhofer research status in digitization and artificial intelligence, Andreas Widl, CEO of valve manufacturer SAMSON, showed how his company is implementing digital transformation and is already expanding its lead over its international competitors.

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The Fraunhofer alumnus that ist generating energy from ocean waves

© CalWave

Marcus Lehmann spent eight months at the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft headquarters in Munich from the end of 2011. Today he runs a company that could make a decisive contribution to humanity's energy supply in the future. The company CalWave Power Technologies Inc., which was co-founded by the Fraunhofer alumnus and which he also chairs as CEO, is developing a power plant that generates electricity from ocean waves. In comparison to wind or solar energy, this process offers various advantages. If the energy of all ocean waves could be captured it would be possible to produce the amount of energy that was consumed worldwide in the entire year of 2008. It is estimated that by 2050 up to 10 percent of Europe's electricity requirements could realistically be covered by energy from the sea.  

The power plants of the young Californian enterprise float under the ocean's surface some distance away from the coastline. This has several advantages: Unlike wind turbines, these plants are under water and thus not visible. They can produce energy even during storms and do not depend on sun and wind. Above all, however, the energy yields from these power plants can be reliably predicted over a long period of time. CalWave Power Technologies was runner up to the U.S. Department of Energy's Wave Energy Prize and is a project of Cyclotron Road, a start-up incubator from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

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IAP-Alumna Nguyen-Kim wins prestigious Friedrichs Prize

Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim
© © WDR / Thomas Kierok Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim

The Fraunhofer-Alumni e.V. is proud to announce that the "Quarks" presenter, science journalist, chemist and Fraunhofer-IAP alumna Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim has won the Hanns-Joachim-Friedrichs-Award 2019 together with ZDF presenter Harald Lesch.

The jury was convinced by the "lively language and unbridled lust and curiosity" of the two journalists, with which they make even complex topics understandable for their viewers and users. Professor Alexander Böker, Head of the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP, congratulated the 31-year-old on his cosmopolitan attitude. Nguyen-Kim is particularly interested in science among the younger generation. 

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The New "Career Portal for Fraunhofer Employees"

Since May 2018, the Fraunhofer-Alumni e.V. has been offering the "Career Portal", the main focus of which is on supporting departing Fraunhofer employees in their further career development outside the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft.

It addresses Fraunhofer employees who will leave the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft within the next 6 months due to the termination of a temporary contract, and offers them a platform to hire their own applicants. Former Fraunhofer employees who have been alumni for some time can also use this portal. Access to these application profiles is restricted exclusively to the Fraunhofer-Alumni e.V. companies interested in highly qualified specialists.

Interested Fraunhofer employees and institute administrations can find further information in the Alumni section of the Fraunhofer Intranet and in the flyer following this text.

If you have any questions, please contact us:

Martin Schindler    
Speaker Alumni - Editorial Office and Career Portal
Phone: +49 89 1205-2158