An Excellence Strategy for top-level research

In the framework of the excellence strategy to strengthen cutting edge details in Germany no fewer than four draft proposals by the University of Stuttgart were positively reviewed by the expert panel and permitted to make an application. Actually the University of Stuttgart receives funding for its Simulation Technology (SimTech) Cluster of Excellence and the Graduate School for Advanced Manufacturing Engineering (GSaME).

In the framework of the excellence strategy to strengthen cutting edge details in Germany decided by the Federation and Regional States, the German Research Association (DFG) made an announcement on 29.09.2017 stating for which of the submitted draft proposals the universities are allowed to make a full application. No fewer than four draft proposals by the University of Stuttgart were positively reviewed by the expert panel and permitted to make an application. In one year, on 27th September 2018, a decision will be reached on the final selection of the excellence cluster applications in the excellence commission.     

Professor Wolfram Ressel, Rector of the University of Stuttgart, was delighted about the decision reached by the expert panel for the excellence strategy after the announcement of the results by the DFG and said: “Today is a very good day for all researchers but also for all students of the University of Stuttgart. The authorisation of no fewer than four draft proposals is a special success and a milestone for the University of Stuttgart. I would like to thank all those scientists working in the clusters for their achievements and commitment. Now the University of Stuttgart has the opportunity with this success of applying for the newly established funding lines of the universities of excellence in the framework of the excellence strategy of the Federation and the Regional States.“

With a view to the research strength of the University of Stuttgart in the scientific areas of the submitted draft proposals of the university, Professor Ressel is convinced that the University of Stuttgart will continue to forge ahead with its central research fields under the program “Intelligent systems for a sustainable society “ and in so doing raise the profile of the university in all core areas. “The University of Stuttgart will succeed in continuously pursuing  the strategic goal of a research university recognised worldwide with the numerous DFG special research fields and graduate college as well as other research associations”, according to the Rector. 

The cluster drafts entitled to make a full application


Since 2007 the excellence cluster “Simulation Technology (SimTech)“ at the University of Stuttgart has forged ahead with the simulation sciences in terms of models, methods and computing aspects from an engineering perspective in great depth and breadth and established them with its interdisciplinary and methodical profile as an internationally visible research focus.   

The orientation of the proposed cluster on data-integrated simulation sciences stands for a multitude of pioneering research questions. The large amount of data available today from sensor measurements, data collections, experiments and simulations offer new and increasingly significant possibilities of acquiring knowledge. Its research goal is a new category of simulation as well as data-driven approaches that raise the applicability of simulation as well as the reliability of decisions based on this to a new level.   

Quantum sciences from the basics to application: development of quantum instruments of the future 

In the field of quantum sciences the Universities of Stuttgart and Ulm as well as the Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research in Stuttgart are requested to make a full application. In a possible excellence cluster “Quantum sciences from the basics to application: development of quantum instruments of the future“ researchers link up quantum technology with the engineering sciences and transferred results from basic research to practice.

In the excellence cluster researchers from physics, chemistry, life sciences and engineering sciences want to work together in cross-institute laboratories. In so doing new materials and control methods for quantum systems are to be developed and these are to be integrated in functional devices. 

The productivity of the construction industry has been stagnating for decades and already the construction sector consumes over 40 percent of the global resources and energy today. This and the big social, ecological, economic and cultural relevance of architecture show that new approaches are urgently required for planning and building. The excellence cluster therefore has the goal of using the full potential of digital technologies in order to rethink planning and building and to enable pioneering innovations for the construction industry through a systematic, holistic and integrative computer-based approach. 

A central objective is the development of a subordinate methodology of the “co-design” of methods, processes and systems, based on interdisciplinary research between the fields of architecture, civil engineering, engineering geodesy, production and system technology, computer science and robotics, as well as social sciences and the humanities.   

Processes of understanding pose a great challenge for people per se, which is intensified even further through the complexity and the speed of the digital world. Counteracting these developments requires the analysis of language and text, i.e. the systems and instances, in which understanding expresses itself. Therefore the cluster project “Understanding understanding” pursues new approaches in order to better understand what happens when we (don’t) understand language and text. In so doing the latest developments in the fields of linguistics, computer linguistics/digital humanities, psychology and literary studies are brought together.   

In the joint cluster application of the universities of Stuttgart and Tübingen as well as the German Literature Archive (DLA) Marbach and the Leibniz-Institute for Knowledge Media (IWM) the scientists are venturing a methodically integrative approach in order to improve the analysis of understanding processes. 

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

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.

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.


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Prof. Dr.

Thomas Ertl

Vice Rector for Research and Advanced Graduate Education

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Michael Waldbauer

Head of Office of the Rectorate