Ever-increasing globalization presents completely new challenges for German production technologies – and thus for the seal of quality "Made in Germany". To meet these challenges and participate world-wide with innovations of their own, Germany's federal government brought the initiative "Industry 4.0" into being in 2013. In the hopes of bringing forth a sort of "Fourth Industrial Revolution", Germany envisions the incorporation of our world's increasing digitalization and virtualization into – but not limited to – complex production processes.
Whether or not the term "Fourth Industrial Revolution" is an apt description, is for future generations to be decided. There is, however, no doubt that comprehending and mastering these new technologies will determine the not-too-distant future of German manufacturing; even more so considering that Germany's respectable position in Europe and around the world is primarily rooted in technological know-how and a high degree of automation. Classic automation processes are rather static, whereas the modern production paradigm demands a high degree of individuality, flexibility and reconfigurability.
Further development of the electronic control units introduced in the 1970s has led to increasingly more complex interconnections between machines, raw workpieces, finished products, transport units and computers. These developments are made possible by the "Internet of Things" – cyber-physical networks consisting of intelligent objects capable of communicating with each other.
Besides the "Internet of Things", our department's electrical and information engineers – male and female alike – primarily work on Ethernet or IP-based fieldbus communication, on the simulation and virtual implementation of production facilities as well as on "Robotics". In particular, students are provided with the necessary fundamentals by the two specialization fields of our "Electrical Engineering and Information Technology" Bachelor's program: "Information and Communications Technologies" (IKT) on the one hand, and "Automation Technologies and Robotics" (ATR) on the other. Student projects and special research enables the possibility to "drill deeper" into subject materials and take a more "in-depth" look at specific fields.
Our soon-to-be field of specialization "robotics and automation" for Master's programs will offer even further grounding in the technologies fundamental to Industry 4.0.
The following list provides an overview of current courses of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Information Technology directly related to Industry 4.0:
- Communication Systems 1 & Communication Systems 2 (Kommunikationssysteme 1&2)
- Computer Networks 1 & Computer Networks 2 (Computernetzwerke 1&2)
- Industrial Communication (Industrielle Kommunikation)
- Control Technology 1 & Control Technology 2 (Steuerungstechnik 1&2)
- Topics concerning automation technology (Themen der Automatisierungstechnik)