Prof. Dr. Christian Stegmann, DESY in Zeuthen
You have been the director of DESY Zeuthen since 2011. What is the most fascinating part of your job?
DESY-Standort in Zeuthen.
DESY in Zeuthen is part of one of the largest research centres in Germany. The research carried out at DESY is extremely diverse. The scientists who work here are looking for the tiniest building blocks of matter which make up our world and investigate high-energy processes in the universe. Using spectacular detectors and telescopes, the experts analyse neutrinos and gamma rays which come from remote corners of the cosmos and can provide information about fascinating phenomena, such as black holes, exploding stars, and radiation outbursts of unimaginable intensity.
I know that sounds as though it has nothing to do with our day-to-day problems. However, this research is the basis for mastering the challenges of our future: issues such as energy supply, climate protection, and healthcare require long-term thinking, sustainable solutions, and new technologies. In addition, the accelerators and detectors which DESY develops and builds are unique tools and can contribute to research in various fields, ranging from the development of innovative high-tech materials to the search for new mechanisms of action for future medications.
Last but not least, it’s not just the science at DESY I find fascinating, it’s also the people. Here in Zeuthen, we have trainees and researchers from over 30 countries working together and that continues to be an inspiration.
dahme_innovation is its own cosmos. What discovery would you like to make here?
With the Technology and Science Park in Wildau, the Wildau Technical University of Applied Sciences, the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research, the Aerospace Technology Centre as well as the Technology and Start-up Centre Wildau and our research centre, the region has become an extremely interesting place for high-tech and research.
It’s a good time to join forces at dahme_innovation and raise awareness for the potential the region holds. We are turning into a research and technology hub which could attract attention far beyond the region. High-tech, cutting-edge research, highly qualified staff, international partnerships and networks, good infrastructure … we have it all right here – a great foundation for further development. Located just outside of Berlin, we can play an important part in creating a corridor for research, technology, and talent between Lusatia and the capital city.
My hope is that our region will become an internationally renowned research and innovation hub in a few years’ time and that solutions for the challenges of the future will be developed and implemented here.
Your work sounds intense – what do you like to do to relax?
I have to travel a lot for work and that really takes a toll. DESY’s beautiful premises on Lake Zeuthen, the boats passing by, my bike ride to work, all that really helps me to relax and recharge. When that’s not enough, I take the boat out to one of the many lakes in Brandenburg on the weekends. I fell in love with the region and its scenery 20 years ago and the more time I spend here, the deeper the love grows. I can’t imagine a better place to work.
You are a professor of innovation and regional management at TH Wildau. What can you tell us about the ViNN:Lab?
Innovations- und Regionalmanagement an der TH Wildau. Was ist denn das dortige ViNN:Lab?
ViNN:Lab is the makerspace at TH Wildau: A creative lab equipped with digital production technologies such as several types of 3D printers, a laser cutter, the necessary materials, Arduino kits, a digital embroidery machine, software, and tools. The ViNN:Lab has a unique infrastructure which is easily accessible and can be used without much prior knowledge. All you need is the desire and willingness to experiment. Things created at ViNN:Lab include small and large prototypes for new products, replacement parts, up-cycled items, or simply crafts.
Our goal is to inspire creativity and problem-solving skills, but also to increase interdisciplinary collaboration and to instil a sense of joy in working with machinery and tools. On our Open Lab Days, we have all kinds of visitors, ranging from school kids and people from the region, to students from various fields, all looking to create something.
We also use the ViNN:Lab in our classes, for instance in the area of project and innovation management. For example, students will develop educational games using game pieces or character figures made with the laser cutter or 3D printers. Or they create innovative concepts for retail businesses and produce prototypes which can be used to test their ideas.
What would be the ideal mobility concept of the future in the region look like?
Personally, I would be interested in autonomous driving. The technological possibilities are fascinating. You could save so much time and do other things while driving. It would make a long commute – for example from the south of Brandenburg – less daunting.
In general, we need a new understanding of what mobility is. I still drive and own a car but I would love to be more flexible and use car-sharing or public transport. However, this will only become an option if I can count on the bus still running past 9 pm and it’s possible to take my bike with me, or if car-sharing becomes available in more rural areas. Building more and safer bike lanes would probably also make more people favour taking their bike over a car whenever they can.
In addition, pedelecs make it possible to use a bike for longer distances – that’s great. Another idea would be covered bike lanes or creative solutions when riding a bike in the rain.
Where do you like to be when you are not in a lab, research institute, or a lecture hall?
I like being outdoors. There is always something new to discover in nature around here – either on a bike ride or a long walk. I really like the more remote areas, the small towns and winding paths along the fields and forests – especially in spring or autumn. It feels good to be outdoors and it is a great way to detox from our digital world which so often is about change and the future. Out in nature, I feel more in the moment.
Your company Linatec manufactures jigs and fixtures. What exactly is that?
We produce jigs and fixtures for the automotive industry and supply our clients around the world. One of our specialties are the devices OEMs need in their assembly lines for the crucial step of joining and mounting the chassis and drive components.
You have been one of the key drivers of progress in the region since 2007. What are the next steps for the region?
The region is developing at a fast pace. The airport, new industries, and TH Wildau as well as access to other research institutions nearby – for example in Adlershof – will attract even more companies to the region in the coming years. This will also affect the service industry. More jobs and higher salaries will increase demand for amenities such as restaurants and a bigger variety of shops and retail businesses.
In short, I expect the prosperity and quality of life in the region to increase significantly – similar to the development which has occurred in the regions surrounding bigger cities in other parts of Germany.
You used to be a competitive rower. What do you like to do today to reduce stress and recharge?
Sports is still an important part of my life and helps me reduce stress. Rowing is of course an outdoor sport and I like anything you can do outdoors. If water is a part of it – even better. That includes any kind of endurance training as well as fishing, or hiking.
So is taking time to think and reflect to recharge and find inspiration. The region is ideal for that. We are so close to Berlin, yet surrounded by such primordial, pristine and scenic landscapes.