IPEK meets the US

Collaboration across borders is one of the key approaches to promote research, teaching and innovation. Thus, the IPEK sent two doctoral researchers, Mr. Revfi and Mr. Richter to the US. Visiting our contacts overseas, they investigated the current state of Systems Engineering in US research and teaching. Furthermore, they collected future expectations of leading US researchers in the field of System Engineering.

IPEK meets Prof. Kim – University of Illinois

Mr. Revfi and Mr. Richter visiting Prof. Kim at the University of Illinois


Two doctoral researchers of the IPEK had the opportunity to meet Prof. Harrison Hyung Min Kim at the University of Illinois. Prof. Kim is a professor in the department of Industrial and Enterprise Systems Engineering and the director of the Enterprise Systems Optimization Laboratory.

The university is famous for having the world's most powerful supercomputer and the biggest public library. In the interview, it again became quite clear that the complexity of mechatronic products can only be realized with the approach of multidisciplinary product development. For this reason, it was important for Prof. Kim to welcome the IPEK in the Beckman Institute, where professors and students from a wide range of disciplines work together on interdisciplinary topics. We came to the point that Systems Engineering will be a key aspect in future product development or to summarize the discussion in Prof. Kim's words: “The more we recognize the importance of society changes, the better we can address the evolving problems with Systems Engineering”

Successful product development for smart product services – University of Michigan

Mr. Richter and Mr. Revfi visiting Prof. Papalambros at the University of Michigan


“The IPEK joined Professor Panos Papalambros at the University of Michigan on a journey of development of the design processes. Panos Papalambros is Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Michigan. In an interview, Prof. Papalambros explained how he has enlarged his research focus to design processes. He made this enlargement possible by extending the natural science-oriented engineering approach to a more holistic approach in collaboration with other disciplines. In a joint discussion, it emerged that future development processes can only be successful if they meet the requirements of smart product services. Therefore, integrated processes are necessary and humans must be at the centre of product development.”

Not only making things but designing things that people want – University of Texas

Mr. Revfi and Mr. Richter visiting Prof. Seepersad at the University of Texas


The IPEK visits Prof. Seepersad at the University of Texas to interview her about recent developments in product development. With her expertise in advanced manufacturing, she gave a broad insight into the possibilities of 3D printing processes. She described various ways in which her research can help product developers in embodiment synthesis. It was agreed that it will be essential for future designs to consider the manufacturing influences. This issue is also addressed by several IPEK projects e.g. the GRK 2078.

The visit ended at the university's Makerstudio, an impressive lab, where students have the opportunity to use rapid prototyping techniques such as 3D printers or laser cutters for their project work.

Next stop: Prof. Yang – MIT - Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Mr. Richter and Mr. Revfi visiting Prof. Yang at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology


On their journey through the United States, the IPEK had the great chance to meet Prof. Maria Yang at MIT in Cambridge. Prof. Yang is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering and is particularly interested in the early stage design process for products and systems. In the discussion she agreed on the importance of high-quality, interdisciplinary education for engineers to be able to address the challenges of future markets. Part of this education at MIT is – similarly to the “Integrated Product Development” class at IPEK – project-based design classes where students learn to methodologically design products. For the future of product development Prof. Yang expects the change from technology push to products serving humanity.

High-quality, interdisciplinary training of engineers by imparting different perspectives through the right collaborations – MIT - Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Mr. Revfi and Mr. Richter visiting Prof. Eppinger at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology


After the meeting with Prof. Maria Yang at MIT in Cambridge, the IPEK interview team met with her colleague Prof. Steve Eppinger. Prof. Eppinger is Professor of Management Science and Innovation, Co-Director of the MIT SDM and IDM Masters Program at the Sloan School of Management. The interview showed the importance and challenges of an interdisciplinary, high quality education in Systems Engineering. However, MIT successfully meets these challenges by creating the right collaborations between the School of Engineering and the Sloan School of Management. Therefore, a high-quality education is possible by teaching different perspectives such as system architecture, model-based system engineering and system project management.

Prof. Beyer presenting IPEK to local network of academia and industry – California State University

Mr. Richter and Mr. Revfi visiting Prof. Beyer and Mr. McIver at the California State University


A good network has enabled a very fruitful exchange with academia and industry in California. Through Prof. Grote, the contact with Professor Christiane Beyer could be established. Prof. Beyer teaches undergraduate and graduate courses and conducts research in Engineering Design, CAD/CAM, and cutting-edge technologies, particularly 3D scanning, reverse engineering, and additive manufacturing technologies for product development. She is originally from the University of Magdeburg. In her 15 years at California State University, she has built up such a network that two complete days of interviews with different people from academia and industry were possible.

California's industry is strongly influenced by the aerospace industry, in which Systems Engineering plays a central role. Through interviews with experienced people from this field, a deep insight into the status quo and still open challenges for the industry was possible. A highlight was the meeting with the managing director of the company Motivo. Motivo carries out projects in the very early phase of product development similar to the IPEK Live-Lab Integrated Product Development.

It was particularly exciting to see how Mrs. Beyer managed to form successful cooperation for an interdisciplinary education of the students. Students from different disciplines come together and work on a continuous process chain: from conceptual design, design in CAD, production to testing the models on the test bench.

Text by Thilo Richter / Sven Revfi