An Excellence Strategy for top-level research

Under the joint Excellence Initiative of Germany's Federal government and states, the University of Stuttgart receives funding for its Simulation Technology (SimTech) Cluster of Excellence and the Graduate School for Advanced Manufacturing Engineering (GSaME).

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

Comparison of simulation data  (c) David Ausserhofer
Comparison of simulation data

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.

Booklet Simulation Technology (german)

GSaME Excellence Initiative
Doctoral students of the GSaME Graduate School develop cutting-edge manufacturing technologies for the factory of the future.

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.


New Federal/state initiatives for top-level university research

A new excellence strategy for funding top level research by universities that Chancellor Angela Merkel and the state governors signed off on in June 2016 will be coupled to the Excellence Initiative in 2019. Starting that year, a maximum of 50 clusters will be funded annually in amounts ranging from three to ten million euro for a maximum of two terms of seven years each. The previous graduate schools will be discontinued; the fostering of young research talent will instead be integrated with the Excellence Clusters. At first, eleven Excellence Universities, whose number will ultimately grow to fifteen, will take the place of the current Elite Universities. University consortia will also be eligible then to submit applications under both funding lines. To be designated an Excellence University will require having at least two clusters awarded, or three in the case of a consortium.

 The Stuttgart excellence strategy

The University of Stuttgart will take part in the bidding for Excellence Clusters under the tightened rules of competition, aiming for success by having at least one or, preferably, two clusters approved. Toward this end, our rectorate sees the University ‘s best chance in continuing the SimTech Cluster of Excellence, because of the international visibility for its scientific contributions which it has garnered to date under the existing Initiative and also for having helped greatly in developing the University ‘s structure. In addition, research activities in quantum technology as well as in the disciplines of linguistics, computer linguistics, literature sciences, and digital humanities that have been strongly developed in recent years will figure prominently in our thinking about additional clusters.


Dieses Bild zeigt Ertl
Prof. Dr.

Thomas Ertl

Vice Rector for Research and Advanced Graduate Education

Dieses Bild zeigt Ehlers

Wolfgang Ehlers

Coordinator SimTech Cluster of Excellence


Corinna Noltenius

Marketing Manager of GSaME Graduate School