An Excellence Strategy for top-level research

Two Clusters of Excellence, for which the university has applied for a grant as part of the excellence strategy to strengthen top-level research in Germany, have been awarded funding for seven years. The successful clusters are “Data-integrated simulation sciences” and “Intergrative Computational Design and Construction for Architecture “.

A happy Prof. Wolfram Ressel, Rector at the University of Stuttgart, comments: “The success of not one but two clusters, up against extremely stiff competition, is testament to the successful development of the collaborative research of the University of Stuttgart as well as the expertise established in the past few years in the fields of simulation technology and architecture and adaptive construction. Spurred on by this success, and with the strategic focus of our research profile being on ‘Intelligent systems for a sustainable society’, we are now increasing our efforts in the competition to be awarded the title of ‘University of Excellence’. I would like to thank all the scientists as well as everybody else involved in the application process for all the passion and commitment they have shown.”

The Cluster of Excellence "Data-Integrated Simulation Science": Simulation in the Era of Data Science

The Cluster of Excellence "Data-Integrated Simulation Science" targets a new class of modeling and computinal methods based on all the data, which is currently available from various sources, in order to take the usability and precision of the simulations as well as the reliability of the decisions based upon them to a whole new level.

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Analysis of big data with the large-format Powerwall at the University of Stuttgart's Visualization Research Center. Picture: University of Stuttgart/Visus
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Simulations have become an indispensable part of research and developmend in many different areas, and they make key contributions towards technological progress. Since 2007, the "Simulation Technology" (SimTech) Cluster of Excellence at the University of Stuttgart has advanced simulation sciences in great depth and breadth based on models, methods and computing aspects from an engineering perspective. With its interdisciplinary and methodical profile, it has established itself as an internationally visible research focus. The University of Stuttgart can now advance these findings and Successes of its research into a new direction. "With data-integrated simulation we are introducing a new paradigm into simuation science at the University of Stuttgart", explains Prof. Thomas Ertl, spokesperson for the Cluster of Excellence. "We were reaching the limits of our traditional approaches, when it comes to simulating highly complex phenomena, for example in environmental issues, in digital human models, and in new materials, and we can only overcome these issues by integrating all the data which is available. We are convinced that the new methods emerging out of SimTech will fundamentally change research and development in many scientific disciplines."

A Variety of forward-thinking research questions

The Cluster of Excellence "Data-Integrated Simulation Sciences" addresses a multitude of forward-thinking research questions. The amount of data available today from sensor readings data collections, experiments and simulations offers new and increasingly more significant opportunities to gain insights. However, methods purely based on data analysis are often difficult to understand and might not take physical principles into consideration. An in-depth understanding of complex systems can only be gained based on scientific principles.

More precise simulations and more reliable decisions

This is the reason why the scientists want to systematically integrate data extracted from various sources into the modeling-simulation-analysis cycle. The research goal is a new class of both simulation and data-driven approaches, which take the utility and precision of the simulations as well as the reliability of the decisions based upon them to a whole new level. The focus here will be on simulating multiphase flows, porous materials, mechanical structures and biological systems, but also on overarching aspects of machine learning, uncertainty quantification, and ubiquitous IT infrastructures.

 

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The Cluster of Excellence "Integrative Computional Design and Construction for Architecture":

A new way of thinking for the built environment

The Cluster of Excellence "Integrative Computional Design and Construction for Architecture" aims to harness the full potential of digital technologies in order to rethink design and construction, and enable groundbreaking innovations for the building sector through a systematic, holistic and integrative computational approach.

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The cluster of excellence "Integrative Computional Design and Construction for Architecture" aims to lay the methodological foundations for a comprehensive modernization of the building sector. Image: University of Stuttgart /ICD
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New buildings will need to be constructed for an additional 2.6. billion people worldwide over the next 35 years. Yet the productivity of the building industry has been stagnating for decades, and even today construction accounts for more than 40 percent of the world's resource and energy consumption. New approaches for design and construction are urgently required. Digital technologies make it possible to address these challenges in novel ways. However, their adoption is very slow and typically only focused on isolated aspects of the building process due to the fragmented nature of the building industry and a compartmentalised research culture. The cluster of excellence aims to rethink design and construction based on an integrative computional approach. Cluster spokesman Prof. Achim Menges, Head of the Institute for Computional Design and Construction at the University of Stuttgart, speaking about the aims of the cluster, says "Architecture is of central importance for our society. However, the building sector faces enormous ecological, economic and social challenges. We aim to harness the full potential of digital technologies through an integrative and interdiscplinary research approach, in order to create the methodological foundations for groundbreaking innovations and sustainable, future design and construction."

A key objective is the development of an overarching methodology of the "co-design" of methods, processes and systems, based on interdisciplinary research between the areas of architecture, structural engineering, building physics, engineering geodesy, manufacturing and systems engineering, computer science and robotics, humanities and social sciences. The Cluster aims to push the use of digital technologies in the building sector beyond the mere optimization of established processes and systems towards new, game-changing approaches for computional design, robotic construction and related building systems.

The scientist expect comprehensive approaches to utilising digital technologies that will help address the ecological, economic and social challenges, which current incremental approaches cannot solve. They aim to create the conditions for a high-quality, livable and sustainable built environment as well as for a digital building culture. Likewise, they want to increase Germany's competitiveness in the biggest industrial sector in the world. Here they can draw upon the many years of experience that the University of Stuttgart has a pioneer in architecture and civil engineering, as well as its international profile. The results of the DFG Collaborative Research Centre CRC 1244 in particular ( Adaptive Shells and Structures for the Built Environment of Tomorrow, spokesperson Prof. Werner Sobek), as well as the discontinued transregional Collaborative Research Centre CRC-TR 141 (Designing and Construction Principles in Biology and Architecture, spokesperson Prof. Jan Knippers), are incorporated into future research.

 

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Previous success of the Excellence Initiative

The Excellence Initiative of the Federal government and German states is intended to boost the international competitiveness of leading German universities in attracting students and researchers. There have been two Excellence Initiative funding rounds, the first for the years 2007 to 2012 and the current one running from 2012 through 2017. Since the Initiative’s start, the University of Stuttgart has received funding for two Excellence programs: the Simulation Technology (SimTech) Cluster of Excellence and the Graduate School for Advanced Manufacturing Engineering (GSaME).

Projects of the Excellence Initiative: a short overview

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Abgleich von Simulationsdaten und real beobachteten Größen (c) David Ausserhofer
Abgleich von Simulationsdaten und real beobachteten Größen

Simulation technologies have become indispensable in the 21st century and are to be found in nearly all fields; for example, in the development of new materials, in making environmental technology safer, or in helping to solve complex problems in biomechanics.

Researchers in the SimTech Cluster of Excellence work on making computer simulations more powerful, forecasts more reliable, and visualizations even more precise. To that end, the participating scientists, whose number by now exceeds 200, are busy synthesizing simulation models and methods first developed in isolation into a coherent systems science. Using this singular approach, our engineers, mathematicians, information scientists, natural scientists, as well as scholars in the humanities and social sciences, collaborate in breaking new ground in research on modeling complex problems and computer simulations. Since the Excellence Cluster ‘s formation, the SimTech team has succeeded in establishing simulation as the third pillar of science alongside theory and experimentation.

Our SimTech researchers work in areas as varied as molecular simulation and modern mechanics, systems analysis and numerical mathematics, as well as data management and hybrid high-performance computing systems. An essential part of SimTech’s interdisciplinary concept is the real-time reflection by our humanities scholars and social scientists on the individual researched phenomena and their integration. “After what is now ten years of interdisciplinary SimTech research, we can say with some pride that we have succeeded in building a systematic program of education from high school all the way to professorship. Thanks in part to contributions by our successful young researchers, the simulation method has become a fixture in many disciplines in the meantime.” (Prof. Wolfgang Ehlers, Coordinator)

An excellent environment for young scientists

Outstanding young researchers will find that the SimTech Cluster of Excellence opens interesting perspectives:

  • The innovative elite Simulation Technology degree course has been offered on both the Bachelor‘s and Master’s levels since 2011.
  • The Cluster’s own graduate school with its current complement of 150 doctoral students offers a structured PhD program, provides a platform for interdisciplinary exchanges and collaboration, and supports research stays abroad.
  • A number of postdoc positions and junior professorships have been established in the Cluster.
  • Close research contacts with industry through the Industrial Consortium SimTech open attractive career prospects for young scientists.
Exzellenzinitiative-GSaME (c)
Exzellenzinitiative-GSaME

The Graduate School of Excellence for Advanced Manufacturing Engineering (GsaME) houses interdisciplinary research, qualification, and innovation as part of doctoral degree studies. It ensures an optimal environment for doctoral students in engineering sciences, computer sciences, and business economics that is geared toward future professional and leadership responsibilities at a university or in business. By their research, PhD candidates contribute to developing the scientific bases for manufacturing design, to achieving mastery over industrial production in an era of globalization and digitization, and to designing the factories of the future.

Our research activities concentrate on the following topic clusters:

  • Strategies and factory development
  • Management of global manufacturing networks
  • Information- and communication technologies for manufacturing
  • Equipment and service engineering
  • Materials and process engineering
  • Intelligent manufacturing systems
    Thus, for example, you will find our GSaME doctoral students tackling the question of how manufacturing can be designed to use resources in an agile, flexible, more efficient way, how value chains transform into value networks, or how innovative fabrication technologies can be used to customize mass-produced products.

Research in science and industry

GsaME implements the dual degree principle during the doctoral studies phase in cooperation with prestigious firms in car manufacturing, electronics, and mechanical engineering as well as with institutes belonging to the Fraunhofer Society. By linking basic, applied, and industrial research to specific qualifications, doctoral students gain practical knowledge as well as interdisciplinary and industry-relevant competences.

More than 30 institutes of the University of Stuttgart are integrated in GsaME, which also cooperates with international partners in science. GsaME doctoral students have the opportunity to exchange professional knowledge and to network during our international summer school, at annual conferences, and in numerous colloquia.

A successful track record

The enduring appeal of the Graduate School for PhD students, its scientific renown, the degrees it has awarded, the career paths it has opened, and the businesses startups by our graduates that it has fostered validate the basic GsaME concept of combining practical relevance with quality science. Here is the GsaME track record at a glance:

  • 145 research projects to date
  • In excess of 470 published papers and conference posters
  • 28 prizes and awards
  • 37 completed PhDs.

Contact

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Prof. Dr.

Thomas Ertl

Vice Rector for Research and Advanced Graduate Education

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Dr.

Michael Waldbauer

Head of Office of the Rectorate