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Standouts in research

Profile Areas and Emerging Fields

The special research profile of the University of Stuttgart is characterized by interdisciplinary cooperation between engineering and natural sciences with humanities, social sciences, and economics.

With its Vision “Intelligent systems for a sustainable society” and its distinctive „Stuttgart Way”, the University of Stuttgart is one of Germany’s most successful research universities and a member of the elite TU9 - German Institutes of Technology Association. Its status as outstanding research university and the broad spectrum of subjects studied today positions it as an internationally recognized and future-oriented place for science and research.

Faculties and Profile Areasw of the University of Stuttgart. (c) Visuell
Faculties and Profile Areasw of the University of Stuttgart.

Visualisierungen spielen im Exzellenzcluster Simulation Technology (SimTech) eine wichtige Rolle.  (c) SimTech/David Ausserhofer
Visualizations play a key role in the Cluster of Excellence Simulation Technology (SimTech).

Profile Areas

The University of Stuttgart currently has five Profile Areas: Architecture and Adaptive Building, Digital Humanities, Production Technologies, Quantum Science, and Simulation Science. The Profile Areas stand for cutting-edge research and have a clear thematic focus that forms the basis of their multidisciplinary composition. As a result of thematic relationships between disciplines and bridge-building by researchers, they span across various areas of the University. Sustaining the profile areas are projects under the Excellence Strategy framework, assorted German Research Foundation-funded Collaborative Research Centers and Transregio Collaborative Research Centers and more large-scale projects funded by other research funders like the Federal Ministry of Education and Research or the European Union.

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Großdemonstrator eines adaptiven Tragwerks in Form einer Holzschale: Die Stuttgart SmartShell. (c) Bosch Rexroth
Large-scale demo of an adaptive structure in the form of a wooden bowl: the Stuttgart SmartShell.

Architecture is of central importance in ecological, economic, social, and cultural terms. Major challenges such as rapid urbanization, high levels of demand in construction, immense resource consumption with devastating environmental consequences, and a lack of productivity in the construction industry clearly show that new approaches to planning and building are a matter of urgency. The Architecture and Adapting Building Profile Area addresses these challenges, and thus contributes to building the foundation of a high-quality, livable, and sustainable environment.

The University’s long tradition and international visibility as a pioneer in architecture and civil engineering are illustrated by groundbreaking architects and civil engineers such as Frei Otto, Jörg Schlaich, and Fritz Leonhardt, as well as by iconic buildings such as the Olympic Stadium in Munich. It is also exemplified with high-profile awards, such as the Pritzker Prize that Frei Otto received in 2015, which is regarded as the Nobel Prize for architecture. And two Collaborative Research Centers (CRC) and the new Cluster of Excellence IntCDC are unique selling points that stand for scientific excellence in this field. The Profile Area builds on the close relationship between architecture and civil engineering, and expands on it with disciplines such as computer science and robotics, production and systems engineering, as well as history and sociology. It thus maintains the discipline’s longstanding research tradition and enhances it with state-of-the-art digital methods and interdisciplinary approaches, such as computer-based modeling, simulation, and manufacturing. The unique technical expertise, interdisciplinary cooperation, and international networking in the Profile Area make it possible to transfer principles of the natural sciences into engineering models and to apply them to new, efficient building methods and other technologies. The Profile Area evolved naturally from numerous past and current activities. It is anchored in the University’s structures by the SRC Architecture: Integrative Design and Adaptive Building (ArchIDA) cross-faculty research center, which pools the research fields of seven faculties. It is also closely linked to other Profile Areas through thematic and personnel exchange.

Digital Humanities is one of the newest fields of research in the humanities. At the University of Stuttgart, the Profile Area is based on traditionally strong and highly visible disciplines in the humanities, which is exceptional among technical universities in Germany. The Digital Humanities build a bridge between modern digital research methods, the phenomena of digitalization, and the transformations that these have sparked in culture and society. They delve into new challenges within the humanities and expand their spectrum of research — for example in linguistics and literary studies — with the help of computer science.

Building on a variety of successful research projects, including the CRC Incremental Specification in Context (2006–2018), researchers from the Universities of Stuttgart and Tübingen worked together to apply for the Cluster of Excellence (EXC) Understanding Understanding: Language and Text. Despite ultimately failing to receive EXC funding, the proposal received an excellent review. The review highlights the formation of the cluster, which was built in a research-oriented bottom-up process across disciplines and universities. With its outstanding cooperation partners and research structures in this Profile Area, the network plays an equally important role, and includes the German Literature Archive in Marbach, the Leibniz Institute for Knowledge Media (Leibniz- Institut für Wissensmedien), and the University of Tübingen. These future-oriented collaborations will be expanded and strengthened to complement the existing initiatives in this Profile Area. They also enable promising synergies with the other Profile Areas.

The Production Technologies Profile Area is part of the University’s traditional profile. Since the University was founded, this Profile Area has made a major contribution to the industrial success of the Stuttgart region. In terms of teaching, technology transfer, and cooperation, it features some of the University’s most successful institutes, and essentially covers all fields of manufacturing technology. Research has generated decisive synergies not only for basic research and teaching, but also for industrial applications. Examples include mechanical and plant engineering, automotive engineering, aerospace engineering, materials science, process engineering, optics, and medical technology.

The ARENA2036 Research Campus (Active Research Environment for the Next Generation) is a unique facility that combines the region’s distinctive expertise in lightweight construction and innovative production technologies. At its 10,000 sqm high-tech research factory, science and industry are cooperating on research that integrates cyber-simulation and manufacturing.

The Profile Area also includes additional projects and activities. With the draft proposal for an Cluster of Excellence Software Defined Manufacturing — Methods, Architectures and Applications for the Automatic Definition of Production by Software, it has not yet been possible to keep up the success of the Graduate School of Excellence advanced Manufacturing Engineering GSaME. The outstanding development of the Production Technologies Profile Area and its new focus on Intelligent Systems will be pursued and expanded on. Here, the aim is to exploit the significant potential for bridging the gap between basic and application-oriented research, and to contribute to shortening the innovation cycle. To this end, the disciplines involved have joined forces to form the Stuttgart Center for Manufacturing Technologies (PZS).

Opto-Elektronischer Messplatz für die Erforschung angewandter Quantentechnologien. (c)
Optoelectronic measurement station for exploring applied quantum technologies.

Quantum technologies offer a new paradigm for a wide range of applications. At the same time, quantum science is one of the most promising and future-oriented fields of basic research. Among German universities, the University of Stuttgart is one of the most internationally renowned and visible in this field of research. Both the excellence of the participating scientists and the broad range of research — from basic research to the development of technological applications — stand out in the international community.

The field of quantum science includes theoretical and experimental physics and chemistry as well as electrical engineering. It is funded by the University with major investments in infrastructure and research networks. In 2011, the University of Stuttgart founded the the Center for Integrated Quantum Science and Technology IQST in cooperation with the University of Ulm and the MPI for Solid State Research. The center focuses on basic and application-oriented research in quantum science, with the aim of opening up further areas of application and expanding the thematic scope of basic research. The IQST has established worldwide collaborations with industrial companies and acquired extensive funds for state-of-the-art research infrastructure.

Based on many successful projects in this field, researchers at the Universities of Stuttgart and Ulm have developed a full proposal for an Cluster of Excellence (EXC) Translational Quantum Science (TQuant): Creating Quantum Devices of the Future. TQuant’s visionary goal is to revolutionize medical imaging and diagnostics by advancing quantum sensor technology using novel robust quantum systems. Although EXC funding would have further boosted these spectacular application prospects, the University’s planned investment incorporates research approaches in the field of quantum science that were highlighted as particularly risky in the proposal’s very positive review.

Another research team in  ZAQuant, the interdisciplinary Center for Applied Quantum Technology aims to advance the development of novel nanophotonic quantum sensors and exploit this technology. . The sensors are designed to use the latest principles of quantum physics and nanophotonics and blend them. The ZAQuant research approach is an international first and is pursued in a specially-constructed research building

Building on the  IQST, the Alliance for Quantum Innovation between the University of Stuttgart and the University of Ulm has set its sight on meeting the challenges of the second  quantum revolution and smoothing the way for technological applications. To this end, discoveries in biology and medicine made in Ulm are to be turned into prototypes in the ZAQuant Center for Applied Quantum Technologies. Networking these broad research fields aims to create new possibilities in sensor technology, metrology, and materials research.   

 

Simulation technologies have their origins in the 20th century. Significant milestones in research, such as John Argyris’s contributions to the development of the finite element method, are widely associated with the University of Stuttgart. The University of Stuttgart is one of the few universities in Germany that has been researching simulation techniques for more than 40 years and systematically makes them part of scientists’ education. The Cluster of Excellence (EXC) 310 Simulation Technology (SimTech) started in 2007 and was extended in 2012. Since then, it has been able to significantly increase the Profile Area’s international visibility and reach. The EXC 310 SimTech brings together more than 200 scientists under one roof at the Stuttgart Centre for Simulation Science (SC SimTech), the very first internal collaborative research structure with faculty-like functions and rights.

The participating researchers have developed the focus from isolated numerical models and methods to an integrative systems science. Their aim is to make simulations more powerful, predictions more precise, and decisions more reliable. With this unique approach, researchers from all of the University’s disciplinary cultures are breaking new ground in the field of modeling and simulating complex problems, and are thus addressing scientific challenges with far-reaching social implications: from digital human models to complex environmental systems and virtual prototypes. A variety of projects is continually being added to the Profile Area. The new Cluster of Excellence EXC 2075 Data Integrated Simulation Science (SimTech) builds on past success stories. With the new paradigm of data-integrated simulation, the new EXC positions itself at the intersection between the previously separate areas of simulation science and data science. The University of Stuttgart is regarded as one of the few institutions in the world that can combine these areas with the required disciplinary depth and interdisciplinary scope, as well as with the necessary research infrastructure.

The research project “Data-Integrated Simulation Science” addresses new ways of storing and analyzing very large masses of data – keyword Big Data.  Cooperating with the University of Stuttgart in this regional research alliance is the University of Heidelberg.

Collaborative Research Area 716 focuses on the dynamic simulation of systems with high particle counts. The researchers model the behavior of atoms and molecules on the computer in the search for answers to current scientific questions.

Emerging Fields

In preparing for the Excellence Strategy of the Federal and State Governments, the University of Stuttgart has identified two Emerging Fields in research: Autonomous Systems and Biomedical Systems. The University intends to expand these fields in the coming years with funds from the Excellence Strategy, as well as with its own funds.

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With the Emerging Field Autonomous Systems, the University aims to strengthen its research capacity in the field of cyber-physical systems and intelligent things. The research on complex networks of real machines and devices and their physical and virtual environment, which regulate themselves autonomously and intelligently as a network, and in particular the top research in the Cyber Valley partnership will be brought together and expanded in this Emerging Field.

The University of Stuttgart is already succesfully pursuing the transfer of biology to biomedical applications. With Biomedical Systems however, the University is now bridging the gap to its top-level research in engineering, computer, and quantum science in order to meet the challenges of increasing personalized as well as automated diagnostic methods. This will be done in cooperation with the life sciences and medicine departments in the neighborhood, like the University Hospital of Tübingen.

Contact

Dieses Bild zeigt Knippers
Prof. Dr.

Jan Knippers

Vice Rector for Research