50 YEARS EDAG
OUR STORIES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Astronaut takes a detour

He doesn’t have to go into space to reach for the stars. Although Jacek would have liked that. As a child, he used to dream of becoming an astronaut. Along the way, he also made an in-depth study of astronomy and explored the night sky with his telescope. “I have always been interested in physics and technology. Once I had come to terms with the fact that I would never be an astronaut, I decided to be an engineer,” recalls Jacek.

Today, 32-year-old Jacek is a project leader for E/E Embedded Systems & AI located at the EDAG facilities in Lindau and Ulm, where a total of 40 software engineers are working primarily on software for self-driving cars. “This is all extremely complex, as these vehicles have to learn to perceive their environment, interpret it and then make appropriate decisions in any given situation. In this respect, AI – artificial intelligence – opens up new horizons for us,” says Jacek.

Passing the acid test

Just a few years ago, it would have been hard for him to imagine tackling such challenging tasks with so much enthusiasm today. “When I started my degree in electrical engineering at the University of Darmstadt, the path ahead of me seemed to be fraught with obstacles and challenges. I had completely underestimated the course, and needed quite some time to grasp how things work and what I needed to do to organise myself.” Only then was he able to begin to make progress and throw himself into his subjects – electronics, energy and renewable energy – with spirit and passion. “What I really enjoyed were the different projects focussing on the technological solutions for the future and – more than anything else – the teamwork,” says Jacek. For him, this was the perfect way to prepare for his tasks at EDAG.

High-speed job entry

He didn’t have the slightest notion that he would leave university and go straight into one of the hottest E/E and AI think tanks. “I was as far away from that as I was from being an astronaut. Starting somewhere as a software developer seemed much more likely,” Jacek recalls. His application with one company was already looking quite promising, and then the phone calls started. A number from Ulm. “I remember exactly. It was Tuesday the 9th September, 2014. I rejected four calls. But my curiosity was aroused, and I called back in the evening,” explains Jacek. Alexander was on the other end, and he enthusiastically described that he was setting up the E/E Embedded Systems department for EDAG, and looking for staff.

“Two days later, on the Thursday, I was in Lindau for an interview. On Friday the 12th, I had my contract and on Saturday, 13th September, 2014 I arrived in Lindau with my suitcase. My future had begun – in the fast lane at top speed,” reports Jacek.

Like a big family

“it was incredibly exciting – and still is,” he says. “Four years ago, when we started setting up the team, there were just three of us in Lindau, where we threw ourselves into our work. Today there are eight of us, and like any other startup, we continue to grow with our tasks.” For Jacek, who has been a project leader since 2016, good team play is extremely important. “People have to know how the others tick and get on well together. We have this down to a T in Lindau. We work together very closely and have absolute confidence in each other. It’s a bit like a big family. Having a team around me that sticks together and joins forces to tackle challenging projects with enthusiasm, perseverance and cheerfulness is something that never fails to make me really happy. All I can say is thank you.”

Observation, leadership, achievement

Jacek had already more than proved his ability to lead a team in a project, fire their enthusiasm and make winners of them in a completely different context. Before starting his career, he worked as a table tennis coach in his spare time for 15 years, training up to 30 children and youngsters aged between five and 18 three times a week. “That tends to make you more easy-going when dealing with different temperaments. And experience in stressful and competitive situations is also quite useful in a professional setting,” he adds with a wink. Also to his advantage is the fact that, as an enthusiastic amateur photographer, he has learnt to closely observe and understand people and nature before taking pictures of them and getting into a creative process.

Expanding existing mental horizons

Since 2017, Jacek has also been responsible for setting up the innovative Artificial Intelligence department. “I firmly believe that AI will be of key importance in the future, and we should make sure that we do not miss the boat. In discussions, I constantly get the feeling that people have extremely high expectations of AI, not only in the automotive sector, but also in the industrial and medical sectors,” says Jacek. The integration of artificial intelligence in a variety of different technology concepts is an excellent match for EDAG. “This is engineering beyond existing mental horizons, something that EDAG has been good at for the last 50 years.”

Reaching for the stars

But no matter how much people are talking about artificial intelligence, it is also meeting with profound scepticism – as is so often the case with revolutionary innovations. What are the advantages of AI, and above all, how much work will it involve, and how much will it cost? We always have to do a great deal of groundwork and put a lot of effort into convincing others, sometimes even becoming ambassadors in our own company,” says Jacek, and then, without pausing, goes on: “I think it is fantastic, the way we always find an open ear in the company – then it is ‘only’ up to us convince the others with knowledge and ideas. You have to be able to see the stars before you can set about reaching for them.” There really is still something of the astronaut in Jacek, the visionary with a tendency to get on with things.

Ironman

“What kind of an evening did I have yesterday? It was great. I went swimming, cycling and then running,” says Nico with a beaming smile. It took him three hours. Couldn’t he maybe scale things down a little? A jog around the park, a few press-ups and then out to the cinema or for something nice to eat? “Well, I do enjoy doing those things, too, but it would hardly be the ideal preparation for a triathlon.” And when Nico says triathlon, he means the real thing: a 3.8 kilometre swim, a 180 kilometre bicycle ride and a 42.2 kilometre run – without a break. Preferably on Hawaii, where every year the world’s best triathletes compete in the Ironman contest.

Fabulous time to Ali’i Drive

Last year, Nico reached the finish line in the legendary Ali’i Drive in Kona in a time of nine hours and nine minutes. A fabulous time for an amateur sportsman. Place 169 in the overall ranking, one hour and 17 minutes behind behind countryman and professional Patrick Lange, who, in his second Hawaiian success was awarded the laurel wreath after setting a new record.

In order to be able to keep up so impressively with the top-ranking super athletes, Nico needs to train for 12 to 18 hours a week – in his spare time, it should be noted. Because unlike Patrick Lange, Jan Frodeno, Faris Al-Sultan & Co., full professionals who push themselves to their limits, Nico also has a demanding full-time job to do in addition to the triathlon.

Came to stay.

Let’s look back. In 2006, after finishing secondary school at home in Sindelfingen, Nico began an technical product designer’s apprenticeship at EDAG. He came to stay. Today, he is a project coordinator in car body development, where, with his team, he carries out CAD design work for customers such as Daimler. EDAG’s CAD engineers in Sindelfingen focus on parts and components for body in white assembly.

“Even as a child, I had an affinity for technology, always enjoyed tinkering and making things, and in fact I still make all my furniture myself,” reports Nico. He also tackled the job of converting a VW mini-bus into a sport and travel mobile himself. “I just like pottering about and working things out for myself.”

Shifting the limits of what can be expected

It stands to reason, then, that he also produces made to measure parts for his triathlon bike wherever possible. Just recently (after training!) he designed a food box with a mount for his bike in CAD and then, in a 3D printing process, produced it to meet his requirements. “What I do is follow my curiosity, always trying to shift the limits of what we can expect just that bit further,” states Nico. “That’s also what I like so much about EDAG. In our projects, we have to pay attention to a great many elaborate details. We handle extremely sophisticated precision technology. And we are talking about projects the size of a car here, not Swiss watch dimensions.

But how do this enthusiasm for his job and passion for the triathlon go together? Is it at all possible to stay at the top of every field without somewhere along the way encountering “the man with the hammer” so feared by marathon runners? “In a triathlon, just like in any other challenging project, there are always those phases where you ask yourself: Why are you doing this? Are you even going to make it?” as Nico knows from experience. “Negative thoughts like this will get you nowhere. On the contrary; you have to set yourself positive targets and listen to your gut feeling, to find out what strengths you need to mobilise and how to pace yourself most effectively.”

No to life in a tunnel

Triathletes are absolutely mad, and can think of nothing beyond their training, perfecting their performance and remaining focussed. This is a common cliché, but one that has nothing to do with Nico: “Life in that kind of tunnel would be no good for me. I want to enjoy my sport. My limits are set by the way my body feels.”

If you are already working 50 hours a week during the peak phase of a project, your body cannot cope with the strain of extreme sport. “At such times, I never push myself, and would certainly never put my health at risk,” explains Nico. “For me, it is basically a question of finding a fun way to achieve my targets while pushing myself to the utmost – but always within the bounds of what is actually possible here and now.”

No desire to be dependent

That’s why he doesn’t want to be marketed as an athlete. “I’m not interested in professional sponsoring. I have no desire to be dependent, and will always prefer to be free to do what I want. By that I mean being involved in a sport that satisfies me and helps me be at one with nature,” says Nico with great firmness.

And speaking of clichés, it is not enough to say that triathletes are just mad: they are mad loners who are quite prepared to use their elbows at the transition areas and the finish line. For me, it is all about team play – in sport and at work,” counters Nico. “At the end of the day, even individual records always have many fathers – mothers, too.” Recently, he and some sporting friends spent four days running over the Alps from Oberstdorf to Meran. Each carrying a light rucksack weighing just two kilos. “Doing something like that, you have to be able to rely on one another, with everyone accepting responsibility for the group. You can’t do it alone. Consideration creates community spirit. And that can move mountains,” says Nico.

He also profits from such experiences in his project work. “Only by working together can we achieve success. That is my mantra. If we each give our best, then things work out right,” as Nico knows. “If you are crossing the Alps and climbing to the pass proves difficult, putting the pressure on will do no good at all. What we have to do is work together to find a way to solve the task. Once you’ve done that, then giving it all you’ve got is fun and extremely fulfilling.” As an Ironman, he knows that the reward for the effort involved comes at the finish. Even if you don’t get a place on the winner’s rostrum.

A trainer that rocks

When the bike is vibrating, he had the wind in his face and the world is flying past him, Dirk is in his element: Rock’n Roll in the Rhön. It doesn’t bother him that he has to tighten the odd screw after cruising around on his old Softtail Harley Davidson. On the contrary, Dirk is a passionate petrol head. “There would be hardly a single part in my machine I have not fiddled with during the past 12 years”, he says. “I really enjoy it”. He is also deeply convinced that cubic capacity is irreplaceable when riding a bike. He converted his 1,340 cc Harley into a 2 litre machine as soon as he could. He cruises with his bike through the panoramic routes of the Rhön as often as possible. When the weather is good, preferably in fifth gear and in total serenity.

Always at full throttle

Dirk is not just interested in the technical aspects of his bike; although he will study it until he understands the very last detail of it. His passion for exploring these aspects brought him to EDAG some 38 years ago, where he started his training to become a technical draughtsman. “Everything was rather manageable and “in the family” with less than 100 employees at that time”, he says, reminiscing. It was family-like in more ways than one”, he adds; “a distant relative of his, Horst Eckart, had founded the company.” Not that he could have “taken it easy” due to the family relationship. On the contrary, “We all worked really hard. We were always able to meet our deadlines. When necessary, one had to put in a night’s work here and there”, he says. His voice carried some pride. “We worked hard, and partied hard afterwards. Always at full throttle”, he adds laughing.

Later, Dirk transferred this inquisitiveness and the joy in the active creation and work from his drawing board into imparting knowledge and experience to the trainees. At EDAG PS, he was one of the first to develop a new training concept for the company and to implement it in the teaching and coaching of trainees. It was all about the theory of design, technical communication and all skills revolving around CAD construction.

From 6 to 152

“It all began with six trainees at EDAG PS; today, there are 152 trainees and working students. It thrills me to see how young people develop and what becomes of them”, says the trainer. Every now and then there are the “trainees with initiative” who absolved their education with extreme ease, while others needed a little more support. “It concerns me personally when someone aborts their training”, says Dirk with a wink. Having a good, trusting relationship with his trainees and students is truly important to him. “It is quite common sense that not everything falls into your lap on your career path. That’s where I like to help, wherever I can. Ultimately, I was also young once and never an eager beaver, so I know all the ups and downs on the road of education.”

This is why he is anxious to not appear as an authoritative teacher and know-it-all. “Personal contact is important to me. I trust my trainees and students and, conversely, they can rely on me and confide in me if matters don’t go to plan.” It was like being in a family, explains the father of two grown children.

Proudly on the Wall of Fame

The long wall in the hallway on the ground floor of the EDAG training and seminar building is covered in awards. IHK, universities and other educational institutions attested the top performance of the EDAG graduates along this Wall of Fame. “I am very pleased and that makes all of us here are a little proud”, says Dirk. However, that does not mean that we are only looking for high-flyers. “I am happy about anyone who completes his final exam with a score of “good”, Then we have achieved everything we need to. If it then turns out to be a ‘very good with distinction’, all the better. Nobody will object.”

Just don't get flooded

“We have terrific junior staff which is motivated to learn and excited to be part in designing the future.” However, Generation Z, meaning those young adults of today who were born around the time of the millennium change was facing entirely different challenges than those that went before them. Our trainees grew up with the Internet, with smartphone connections and permanent online availability not only of their community, but the entire knowledge of the world. Having been born and raised in the age of digitalisation is a huge advantage. On the other hand, digital natives are virtually drowning in the flood of information”, Dirk notes.

Basics matter

For example, it was not enough that generation Z was able to quickly “Google” the latest findings or acquiring new knowledge via a YouTube tutorial. “You just have to have learned a few basics: fundamental mathematics such as mental arithmetic or simple rule-of-three, mastering the German language or good manners and being attentive and appreciating interaction with people in one’s own environment,” says Dirk. The fact that G9 is once again replacing G8 at the high school is a move in the right direction.

He was surprised about some “quite avoidable mistakes” in the educational system, but continued to look at his protéges with optimism. Last September, EDAG PS had gathered all of its new trainees and students in Fulda for “Education Tuning” training. The youth hostel in Gersfeld provided the opportunity of getting to know each other and having casual conversation with the managing director of EDAG PS. “That was a real hit with the participants”, says Dirk. In the evening, he had half expected that all would withdraw with their mobile phones in hand to check what was happening on the Internet. “They unpacked board games and had loads of fun with each other until long after midnight. Entirely unplugged”, reports the trainer. “I am quite sure that our trainees have a few surprises for us yet. I am not worried about their future.”

The wrestler in the big-data arena

Esmaeil is as cool as a cucumber. A pleasant companion, reserved and extremely polite. It is hardly conceivable that he is capable of knocking you off your feet with a few lightning-fast hand and foot movements. Esmaeil grew up in Kermānschāh, a metropolis in the north-west of Iran, which is the origin of some of the world’s best wrestlers. “For ten years, I have trained Greek-Roman-style, side by side with the greatest in this sport”, says Esmaeil. “But that was a long time ago.” At least as important as man-to-man combat on the mat to him, he has always been interested in working with numbers and algorithms.

From a bank into the lecture hall

In Kermanshah and Teheran, Esmaeil studied software engineering and finished with a Master in IT Engineering in 2005. After that, he worked at a bank until he decided to continue his academic education and to graduate in Germany in 2016. Equipped with a blue card permanent residency, he moved to North Rhine-Westphalia with his wife and child to study at Siegen University, an interdisciplinary research university, and to write his doctoral thesis. “Finally, a new and major challenge”, he said excited.

“However, the thesis has slowed down a little since I started at EDAG PS in 2017”, he said, but did not seem to be really unhappy about it. “I am a true car fan and do not want to research sitting all alone in a quiet little back-room, but also to work for the industry hands-on and realise new ideas within a team”, he says, describing his dilemma. He was all the more happy when his professor understood his concern and told him that the academic path continued to stay open for him, also part-time.

A fright by the name of Munich

When he applied for a job at EDAG, he secretly hoped to come to Fulda. Fulda was not so far from his doctoral thesis in Siegen and was furthermore manageable in size to settle in quickly with his family. “But, when I was told that I was not to go to Fulda, but to start immediately as data scientist at EDAG PS in Garching bei München, I became a little concerned. To me, Munich was always a bit too large, too expensive and too far away.” But that did not turn out to be correct. “Thankfully”, he smiles.

“In the Production IT Department of EDAG-PS we are only looking forward and keep our foot on the throttle at all times”, says Esmaeil. He was particularly fascinated about the continuous automation in production and the procedures via data processing. He is convinced that “there is a lot of potential for the future”.

Wisdom of a perfectionist: if you do it, do it right

However, he does not make it easy for himself. Esmaeil is a perfectionist. “If I do something, I do it right”, he says. That is why I no longer play the tanbur, a long-neck lute typical in the Orient. “I would need too much time to practice. And I don’t have any fellow players around me either.”

So, he rather places his entire ambition into his work. He considers himself faced with enormous challenges as a data scientist in the automotive technology development. In the era of digitalisation and computerized production and processes change almost every six months. “In IT, we are therefore constantly challenged to stay up to date and to check our systems and resources. It is just like wrestling. You always have to be highly alert and quick to react. He who sleeps has already lost”

He who sleeps, loses

The rule for data scientists was here quite simple: What ever you don’t know yet, you better learn as fast as possible. “This ‘law of nature’ in the digital transformation is vital.” The athlete in him loves this challenge. “Here in Garching, we are a great team, where software developers and data scientists work hand in hand with engineers and technicians. “Everything is always inter-departmental with the view beyond one’s own horizon.” He considers this to be the great strength at EDAG. “We have all skills in-house or in the various company departments. That is why we can act incredibly quickly and strongly.”

Working this way, parallel on various projects, is no problem for Esmaeil. “On the contrary, I like it very much.” This is why he participates in hackathons also in his spare time from time to time. Companies from a variety of industries invite respectively 100 and more IT specialists from all corners of the earth to jointly find a software or hardware solution for a problem during a playful design sprint event under incredible time constraints within 48 hours. Esmaeil has already taken part in a hackathon four times and has taken second place twice and third place once with an EDAG team.

One more thing

He would only have to train harder in a tournament, as the perfectionist knows. At home, he was reminded of this constantly. “My daughter speaks three languages, Kurdish, Persian and German. All of them perfectly. And quite happily all at once”, says Esmaeil. This kept reminding him that he should continue to polish his own knowledge of German. However, he was lacking a little pressure as the IT scene communicated in English most of the time. But then, solving a problem by avoiding it is not in Esmaeil’s ambitious nature. “I registered at the Goethe Institute for the language course. Even though this damned grammar is really difficult. But I’ll master it.” No doubt. For Esmaeil, the wrestler, one thing applies also for the every-day challenges: Attack is the best defense.

The Super Biker

It was his great role model who put him in the fast lane at a very early age. During his youth, Filip’s father Richard had also always been in a hurry, was an active racing cyclist and cross country skier. Not one of those skiers who take things gently, but a real double world champion at the “Masters” over 15 kilometres classic, and in the relay. And also the European Roller Ski Champion, on skis he made himself.

Young Filip grew up in his parents’ sports shop in Raubling in the Rosenheim district. No wonder, then, that this turned out to be the ideal breeding ground for his own sporting dreams. “At 12, I used my savings to buy a 125 cc Enduro bike and used to secretly tear around a nearby tank training area on it,” he recalls. At 16, when he was finally allowed to take his driving test, his driving instructor said to his father, “The lad should be on the race track.”

His driving instructor was right

The driving instructor obviously knew what he was talking about. Even if Filip had already proved his prowess in alpine skiing, BMX racing, cross country skiing and cycling, motorcycle racing had always been his dream. “Through my training as a bike mechanic, I became more and more immersed in the world of motorcycles. I was totally hooked,” explains Filip.

His father noticed this, too. Without further ado, he registered his boy for a RedBull trial. “That was the first time I ever sat on a street motorcycle. An amazing feeling,” says Filip. And he took off like a rocket. Of the 700 participants, some 15 were selected to take part in the ADAC’s RedBull Rookies Cup. “This was the best thing that ever happened to me, even if I did have a massive smash in the first race, and I ended up with concussion and a splitting head.” It just didn’t matter. A year later, he was the second best newcomer to this racing series.

Only Mum was worried

Father Richard was thrilled, his mother, however, was considerably less euphoric: “There are so many nice things you could do in your spare time – a bit of sport, cooking, playing an instrument,” was how she put it. Ultimately, however, though far from endorsing it, she did finally accept his decision to ride motorbikes.

Filip knows that racing has always been dangerous. “However, I’m well able to weigh up the risks and I know my limits.” A claim that is borne out by the fact that his worst injury so far, a fracture of the femoral neck, happened not on the race track but when he was riding his BMX bike in 2016. “These things happen,” he says, shrugging his shoulders. The result was an artificial hip, but is able to ride his motorbike again without it restricting him in any way.

Full speed on the road to success

Filip’s racing career took him through the YAMAHA Cup, where he won the overall rating on an R6 in 2008, to the 1000 cc Superbike class, in which he competed with his BMW team GERT 56. Success followed quickly: victory in the German Championships in 2011, with a new record at the Salzburgring track, and Best in Class in the Open category of the 24-hour race at Le Mans.

Racing aside, Filip has also given everything he’s got in his job. Including the time he spent at the school for master motorcycle and bicycle mechanics. “That’s going to be quite a challenge, on top of your racing,” his friends warned him. “I’ll manage,” was Filip’s reply. “I’m up for it.” He has long since gained his Master Craftsman Certificate.

Experience that comes right on cue

It was during his super bike phase that Filip met Marc, who since 2012 has headed the constantly growing development team dealing with motorcycle-related matters at EDAG. In 2017, Filip’s enormous experience and technical know-how came right on cue. Particularly when the latest developments for BMW are concerned.

“We are working flat out on brakes and control systems,” reports Filip. Aside from working in the office and development laboratories, more than anything else, this means a great deal of active testing for the racer: “On the test track, we want to find out about the status of the ABS and traction behaviour on different surfaces. After all, this concerns the safety and durability of our systems.”

A coach on the podium at the World Championship

Filip had in fact already ended his active racing career. The only reason he was still at the track was as a riding coach. His last competition was the long-distance Superstock World Championship with the German Endurance Racing Team. But then, mid-race, one of the three team members injured his hand. Filip had to step in, and promptly led his team to a place on the podium. “Long-distance racing is a team sport,” says Filip. “It’s not just about putting the rider on a pedestal and then wending your way home again after eight hours. In a team, you just have to see a 24-hour race through. Everyone is equally important, even the cook. And if I’m fit, well then I also ride, too. It’s a question of the success of every one of us.” For Filip, far from being an imposition, this is “pure enjoyment”.

Jacek

Projektleiter
E/E Embedded Systems & AI

Astronaut takes a detour

At EDAG: since 2014

Astronaut takes a detour

He doesn’t have to go into space to reach for the stars. Although Jacek would have liked that. As a child, he used to dream of becoming an astronaut. Along the way, he also made an in-depth study of astronomy and explored the night sky with his telescope. “I have always been interested in physics and technology. Once I had come to terms with the fact that I would never be an astronaut, I decided to be an engineer,” recalls Jacek.

Today, 32-year-old Jacek is a project leader for E/E Embedded Systems & AI located at the EDAG facilities in Lindau and Ulm, where a total of 40 software engineers are working primarily on software for self-driving cars. “This is all extremely complex, as these vehicles have to learn to perceive their environment, interpret it and then make appropriate decisions in any given situation. In this respect, AI – artificial intelligence – opens up new horizons for us,” says Jacek.

Passing the acid test

Just a few years ago, it would have been hard for him to imagine tackling such challenging tasks with so much enthusiasm today. “When I started my degree in electrical engineering at the University of Darmstadt, the path ahead of me seemed to be fraught with obstacles and challenges. I had completely underestimated the course, and needed quite some time to grasp how things work and what I needed to do to organise myself.” Only then was he able to begin to make progress and throw himself into his subjects – electronics, energy and renewable energy – with spirit and passion. “What I really enjoyed were the different projects focussing on the technological solutions for the future and – more than anything else – the teamwork,” says Jacek. For him, this was the perfect way to prepare for his tasks at EDAG.

High-speed job entry

He didn’t have the slightest notion that he would leave university and go straight into one of the hottest E/E and AI think tanks. “I was as far away from that as I was from being an astronaut. Starting somewhere as a software developer seemed much more likely,” Jacek recalls. His application with one company was already looking quite promising, and then the phone calls started. A number from Ulm. “I remember exactly. It was Tuesday the 9th September, 2014. I rejected four calls. But my curiosity was aroused, and I called back in the evening,” explains Jacek. Alexander was on the other end, and he enthusiastically described that he was setting up the E/E Embedded Systems department for EDAG, and looking for staff.

“Two days later, on the Thursday, I was in Lindau for an interview. On Friday the 12th, I had my contract and on Saturday, 13th September, 2014 I arrived in Lindau with my suitcase. My future had begun – in the fast lane at top speed,” reports Jacek.

Like a big family

“it was incredibly exciting – and still is,” he says. “Four years ago, when we started setting up the team, there were just three of us in Lindau, where we threw ourselves into our work. Today there are eight of us, and like any other startup, we continue to grow with our tasks.” For Jacek, who has been a project leader since 2016, good team play is extremely important. “People have to know how the others tick and get on well together. We have this down to a T in Lindau. We work together very closely and have absolute confidence in each other. It’s a bit like a big family. Having a team around me that sticks together and joins forces to tackle challenging projects with enthusiasm, perseverance and cheerfulness is something that never fails to make me really happy. All I can say is thank you.”

Observation, leadership, achievement

Jacek had already more than proved his ability to lead a team in a project, fire their enthusiasm and make winners of them in a completely different context. Before starting his career, he worked as a table tennis coach in his spare time for 15 years, training up to 30 children and youngsters aged between five and 18 three times a week. “That tends to make you more easy-going when dealing with different temperaments. And experience in stressful and competitive situations is also quite useful in a professional setting,” he adds with a wink. Also to his advantage is the fact that, as an enthusiastic amateur photographer, he has learnt to closely observe and understand people and nature before taking pictures of them and getting into a creative process.

Expanding existing mental horizons

Since 2017, Jacek has also been responsible for setting up the innovative Artificial Intelligence department. “I firmly believe that AI will be of key importance in the future, and we should make sure that we do not miss the boat. In discussions, I constantly get the feeling that people have extremely high expectations of AI, not only in the automotive sector, but also in the industrial and medical sectors,” says Jacek. The integration of artificial intelligence in a variety of different technology concepts is an excellent match for EDAG. “This is engineering beyond existing mental horizons, something that EDAG has been good at for the last 50 years.”

Reaching for the stars

But no matter how much people are talking about artificial intelligence, it is also meeting with profound scepticism – as is so often the case with revolutionary innovations. What are the advantages of AI, and above all, how much work will it involve, and how much will it cost? We always have to do a great deal of groundwork and put a lot of effort into convincing others, sometimes even becoming ambassadors in our own company,” says Jacek, and then, without pausing, goes on: “I think it is fantastic, the way we always find an open ear in the company – then it is ‘only’ up to us convince the others with knowledge and ideas. You have to be able to see the stars before you can set about reaching for them.” There really is still something of the astronaut in Jacek, the visionary with a tendency to get on with things.

Nico

Body engineering project coordinator

Ironman

At EDAG: since 2006

Ironman

“What kind of an evening did I have yesterday? It was great. I went swimming, cycling and then running,” says Nico with a beaming smile. It took him three hours. Couldn’t he maybe scale things down a little? A jog around the park, a few press-ups and then out to the cinema or for something nice to eat? “Well, I do enjoy doing those things, too, but it would hardly be the ideal preparation for a triathlon.” And when Nico says triathlon, he means the real thing: a 3.8 kilometre swim, a 180 kilometre bicycle ride and a 42.2 kilometre run – without a break. Preferably on Hawaii, where every year the world’s best triathletes compete in the Ironman contest.

Fabulous time to Ali’i Drive

Last year, Nico reached the finish line in the legendary Ali’i Drive in Kona in a time of nine hours and nine minutes. A fabulous time for an amateur sportsman. Place 169 in the overall ranking, one hour and 17 minutes behind behind countryman and professional Patrick Lange, who, in his second Hawaiian success was awarded the laurel wreath after setting a new record.

In order to be able to keep up so impressively with the top-ranking super athletes, Nico needs to train for 12 to 18 hours a week – in his spare time, it should be noted. Because unlike Patrick Lange, Jan Frodeno, Faris Al-Sultan & Co., full professionals who push themselves to their limits, Nico also has a demanding full-time job to do in addition to the triathlon.

Came to stay.

Let’s look back. In 2006, after finishing secondary school at home in Sindelfingen, Nico began an technical product designer’s apprenticeship at EDAG. He came to stay. Today, he is a project coordinator in car body development, where, with his team, he carries out CAD design work for customers such as Daimler. EDAG’s CAD engineers in Sindelfingen focus on parts and components for body in white assembly.

“Even as a child, I had an affinity for technology, always enjoyed tinkering and making things, and in fact I still make all my furniture myself,” reports Nico. He also tackled the job of converting a VW mini-bus into a sport and travel mobile himself. “I just like pottering about and working things out for myself.”

Shifting the limits of what can be expected

It stands to reason, then, that he also produces made to measure parts for his triathlon bike wherever possible. Just recently (after training!) he designed a food box with a mount for his bike in CAD and then, in a 3D printing process, produced it to meet his requirements. “What I do is follow my curiosity, always trying to shift the limits of what we can expect just that bit further,” states Nico. “That’s also what I like so much about EDAG. In our projects, we have to pay attention to a great many elaborate details. We handle extremely sophisticated precision technology. And we are talking about projects the size of a car here, not Swiss watch dimensions.

But how do this enthusiasm for his job and passion for the triathlon go together? Is it at all possible to stay at the top of every field without somewhere along the way encountering “the man with the hammer” so feared by marathon runners? “In a triathlon, just like in any other challenging project, there are always those phases where you ask yourself: Why are you doing this? Are you even going to make it?” as Nico knows from experience. “Negative thoughts like this will get you nowhere. On the contrary; you have to set yourself positive targets and listen to your gut feeling, to find out what strengths you need to mobilise and how to pace yourself most effectively.”

No to life in a tunnel

Triathletes are absolutely mad, and can think of nothing beyond their training, perfecting their performance and remaining focussed. This is a common cliché, but one that has nothing to do with Nico: “Life in that kind of tunnel would be no good for me. I want to enjoy my sport. My limits are set by the way my body feels.”

If you are already working 50 hours a week during the peak phase of a project, your body cannot cope with the strain of extreme sport. “At such times, I never push myself, and would certainly never put my health at risk,” explains Nico. “For me, it is basically a question of finding a fun way to achieve my targets while pushing myself to the utmost – but always within the bounds of what is actually possible here and now.”

No desire to be dependent

That’s why he doesn’t want to be marketed as an athlete. “I’m not interested in professional sponsoring. I have no desire to be dependent, and will always prefer to be free to do what I want. By that I mean being involved in a sport that satisfies me and helps me be at one with nature,” says Nico with great firmness.

And speaking of clichés, it is not enough to say that triathletes are just mad: they are mad loners who are quite prepared to use their elbows at the transition areas and the finish line. For me, it is all about team play – in sport and at work,” counters Nico. “At the end of the day, even individual records always have many fathers – mothers, too.” Recently, he and some sporting friends spent four days running over the Alps from Oberstdorf to Meran. Each carrying a light rucksack weighing just two kilos. “Doing something like that, you have to be able to rely on one another, with everyone accepting responsibility for the group. You can’t do it alone. Consideration creates community spirit. And that can move mountains,” says Nico.

He also profits from such experiences in his project work. “Only by working together can we achieve success. That is my mantra. If we each give our best, then things work out right,” as Nico knows. “If you are crossing the Alps and climbing to the pass proves difficult, putting the pressure on will do no good at all. What we have to do is work together to find a way to solve the task. Once you’ve done that, then giving it all you’ve got is fun and extremely fulfilling.” As an Ironman, he knows that the reward for the effort involved comes at the finish. Even if you don’t get a place on the winner’s rostrum.

Dirk

Manager training

A trainer that rocks

At EDAG: since 1982

A trainer that rocks

When the bike is vibrating, he had the wind in his face and the world is flying past him, Dirk is in his element: Rock’n Roll in the Rhön. It doesn’t bother him that he has to tighten the odd screw after cruising around on his old Softtail Harley Davidson. On the contrary, Dirk is a passionate petrol head. “There would be hardly a single part in my machine I have not fiddled with during the past 12 years”, he says. “I really enjoy it”. He is also deeply convinced that cubic capacity is irreplaceable when riding a bike. He converted his 1,340 cc Harley into a 2 litre machine as soon as he could. He cruises with his bike through the panoramic routes of the Rhön as often as possible. When the weather is good, preferably in fifth gear and in total serenity.

Always at full throttle

Dirk is not just interested in the technical aspects of his bike; although he will study it until he understands the very last detail of it. His passion for exploring these aspects brought him to EDAG some 38 years ago, where he started his training to become a technical draughtsman. “Everything was rather manageable and “in the family” with less than 100 employees at that time”, he says, reminiscing. It was family-like in more ways than one”, he adds; “a distant relative of his, Horst Eckart, had founded the company.” Not that he could have “taken it easy” due to the family relationship. On the contrary, “We all worked really hard. We were always able to meet our deadlines. When necessary, one had to put in a night’s work here and there”, he says. His voice carried some pride. “We worked hard, and partied hard afterwards. Always at full throttle”, he adds laughing.

Later, Dirk transferred this inquisitiveness and the joy in the active creation and work from his drawing board into imparting knowledge and experience to the trainees. At EDAG PS, he was one of the first to develop a new training concept for the company and to implement it in the teaching and coaching of trainees. It was all about the theory of design, technical communication and all skills revolving around CAD construction.

From 6 to 152

“It all began with six trainees at EDAG PS; today, there are 152 trainees and working students. It thrills me to see how young people develop and what becomes of them”, says the trainer. Every now and then there are the “trainees with initiative” who absolved their education with extreme ease, while others needed a little more support. “It concerns me personally when someone aborts their training”, says Dirk with a wink. Having a good, trusting relationship with his trainees and students is truly important to him. “It is quite common sense that not everything falls into your lap on your career path. That’s where I like to help, wherever I can. Ultimately, I was also young once and never an eager beaver, so I know all the ups and downs on the road of education.”

This is why he is anxious to not appear as an authoritative teacher and know-it-all. “Personal contact is important to me. I trust my trainees and students and, conversely, they can rely on me and confide in me if matters don’t go to plan.” It was like being in a family, explains the father of two grown children.

Proudly on the Wall of Fame

The long wall in the hallway on the ground floor of the EDAG training and seminar building is covered in awards. IHK, universities and other educational institutions attested the top performance of the EDAG graduates along this Wall of Fame. “I am very pleased and that makes all of us here are a little proud”, says Dirk. However, that does not mean that we are only looking for high-flyers. “I am happy about anyone who completes his final exam with a score of “good”, Then we have achieved everything we need to. If it then turns out to be a ‘very good with distinction’, all the better. Nobody will object.”

Just don't get flooded

“We have terrific junior staff which is motivated to learn and excited to be part in designing the future.” However, Generation Z, meaning those young adults of today who were born around the time of the millennium change was facing entirely different challenges than those that went before them. Our trainees grew up with the Internet, with smartphone connections and permanent online availability not only of their community, but the entire knowledge of the world. Having been born and raised in the age of digitalisation is a huge advantage. On the other hand, digital natives are virtually drowning in the flood of information”, Dirk notes.

Basics matter

For example, it was not enough that generation Z was able to quickly “Google” the latest findings or acquiring new knowledge via a YouTube tutorial. “You just have to have learned a few basics: fundamental mathematics such as mental arithmetic or simple rule-of-three, mastering the German language or good manners and being attentive and appreciating interaction with people in one’s own environment,” says Dirk. The fact that G9 is once again replacing G8 at the high school is a move in the right direction.

He was surprised about some “quite avoidable mistakes” in the educational system, but continued to look at his protéges with optimism. Last September, EDAG PS had gathered all of its new trainees and students in Fulda for “Education Tuning” training. The youth hostel in Gersfeld provided the opportunity of getting to know each other and having casual conversation with the managing director of EDAG PS. “That was a real hit with the participants”, says Dirk. In the evening, he had half expected that all would withdraw with their mobile phones in hand to check what was happening on the Internet. “They unpacked board games and had loads of fun with each other until long after midnight. Entirely unplugged”, reports the trainer. “I am quite sure that our trainees have a few surprises for us yet. I am not worried about their future.”

Esmaeil

Data Scientist

The wrestler in the big-data arena

At EDAG: since 2017

The wrestler in the big-data arena

Esmaeil is as cool as a cucumber. A pleasant companion, reserved and extremely polite. It is hardly conceivable that he is capable of knocking you off your feet with a few lightning-fast hand and foot movements. Esmaeil grew up in Kermānschāh, a metropolis in the north-west of Iran, which is the origin of some of the world’s best wrestlers. “For ten years, I have trained Greek-Roman-style, side by side with the greatest in this sport”, says Esmaeil. “But that was a long time ago.” At least as important as man-to-man combat on the mat to him, he has always been interested in working with numbers and algorithms.

From a bank into the lecture hall

In Kermanshah and Teheran, Esmaeil studied software engineering and finished with a Master in IT Engineering in 2005. After that, he worked at a bank until he decided to continue his academic education and to graduate in Germany in 2016. Equipped with a blue card permanent residency, he moved to North Rhine-Westphalia with his wife and child to study at Siegen University, an interdisciplinary research university, and to write his doctoral thesis. “Finally, a new and major challenge”, he said excited.

“However, the thesis has slowed down a little since I started at EDAG PS in 2017”, he said, but did not seem to be really unhappy about it. “I am a true car fan and do not want to research sitting all alone in a quiet little back-room, but also to work for the industry hands-on and realise new ideas within a team”, he says, describing his dilemma. He was all the more happy when his professor understood his concern and told him that the academic path continued to stay open for him, also part-time.

A fright by the name of Munich

When he applied for a job at EDAG, he secretly hoped to come to Fulda. Fulda was not so far from his doctoral thesis in Siegen and was furthermore manageable in size to settle in quickly with his family. “But, when I was told that I was not to go to Fulda, but to start immediately as data scientist at EDAG PS in Garching bei München, I became a little concerned. To me, Munich was always a bit too large, too expensive and too far away.” But that did not turn out to be correct. “Thankfully”, he smiles.

“In the Production IT Department of EDAG-PS we are only looking forward and keep our foot on the throttle at all times”, says Esmaeil. He was particularly fascinated about the continuous automation in production and the procedures via data processing. He is convinced that “there is a lot of potential for the future”.

Wisdom of a perfectionist: if you do it, do it right

However, he does not make it easy for himself. Esmaeil is a perfectionist. “If I do something, I do it right”, he says. That is why I no longer play the tanbur, a long-neck lute typical in the Orient. “I would need too much time to practice. And I don’t have any fellow players around me either.”

So, he rather places his entire ambition into his work. He considers himself faced with enormous challenges as a data scientist in the automotive technology development. In the era of digitalisation and computerized production and processes change almost every six months. “In IT, we are therefore constantly challenged to stay up to date and to check our systems and resources. It is just like wrestling. You always have to be highly alert and quick to react. He who sleeps has already lost”

He who sleeps, loses

The rule for data scientists was here quite simple: What ever you don’t know yet, you better learn as fast as possible. “This ‘law of nature’ in the digital transformation is vital.” The athlete in him loves this challenge. “Here in Garching, we are a great team, where software developers and data scientists work hand in hand with engineers and technicians. “Everything is always inter-departmental with the view beyond one’s own horizon.” He considers this to be the great strength at EDAG. “We have all skills in-house or in the various company departments. That is why we can act incredibly quickly and strongly.”

Working this way, parallel on various projects, is no problem for Esmaeil. “On the contrary, I like it very much.” This is why he participates in hackathons also in his spare time from time to time. Companies from a variety of industries invite respectively 100 and more IT specialists from all corners of the earth to jointly find a software or hardware solution for a problem during a playful design sprint event under incredible time constraints within 48 hours. Esmaeil has already taken part in a hackathon four times and has taken second place twice and third place once with an EDAG team.

One more thing

He would only have to train harder in a tournament, as the perfectionist knows. At home, he was reminded of this constantly. “My daughter speaks three languages, Kurdish, Persian and German. All of them perfectly. And quite happily all at once”, says Esmaeil. This kept reminding him that he should continue to polish his own knowledge of German. However, he was lacking a little pressure as the IT scene communicated in English most of the time. But then, solving a problem by avoiding it is not in Esmaeil’s ambitious nature. “I registered at the Goethe Institute for the language course. Even though this damned grammar is really difficult. But I’ll master it.” No doubt. For Esmaeil, the wrestler, one thing applies also for the every-day challenges: Attack is the best defense.

Filip

Motorcycle Department

The Super Biker

At EDAG: since 2017

The Super Biker

It was his great role model who put him in the fast lane at a very early age. During his youth, Filip’s father Richard had also always been in a hurry, was an active racing cyclist and cross country skier. Not one of those skiers who take things gently, but a real double world champion at the “Masters” over 15 kilometres classic, and in the relay. And also the European Roller Ski Champion, on skis he made himself.

Young Filip grew up in his parents’ sports shop in Raubling in the Rosenheim district. No wonder, then, that this turned out to be the ideal breeding ground for his own sporting dreams. “At 12, I used my savings to buy a 125 cc Enduro bike and used to secretly tear around a nearby tank training area on it,” he recalls. At 16, when he was finally allowed to take his driving test, his driving instructor said to his father, “The lad should be on the race track.”

His driving instructor was right

The driving instructor obviously knew what he was talking about. Even if Filip had already proved his prowess in alpine skiing, BMX racing, cross country skiing and cycling, motorcycle racing had always been his dream. “Through my training as a bike mechanic, I became more and more immersed in the world of motorcycles. I was totally hooked,” explains Filip.

His father noticed this, too. Without further ado, he registered his boy for a RedBull trial. “That was the first time I ever sat on a street motorcycle. An amazing feeling,” says Filip. And he took off like a rocket. Of the 700 participants, some 15 were selected to take part in the ADAC’s RedBull Rookies Cup. “This was the best thing that ever happened to me, even if I did have a massive smash in the first race, and I ended up with concussion and a splitting head.” It just didn’t matter. A year later, he was the second best newcomer to this racing series.

Only Mum was worried

Father Richard was thrilled, his mother, however, was considerably less euphoric: “There are so many nice things you could do in your spare time – a bit of sport, cooking, playing an instrument,” was how she put it. Ultimately, however, though far from endorsing it, she did finally accept his decision to ride motorbikes.

Filip knows that racing has always been dangerous. “However, I’m well able to weigh up the risks and I know my limits.” A claim that is borne out by the fact that his worst injury so far, a fracture of the femoral neck, happened not on the race track but when he was riding his BMX bike in 2016. “These things happen,” he says, shrugging his shoulders. The result was an artificial hip, but is able to ride his motorbike again without it restricting him in any way.a

Full speed on the road to success

Filip’s racing career took him through the YAMAHA Cup, where he won the overall rating on an R6 in 2008, to the 1000 cc Superbike class, in which he competed with his BMW team GERT 56. Success followed quickly: victory in the German Championships in 2011, with a new record at the Salzburgring track, and Best in Class in the Open category of the 24-hour race at Le Mans.

Racing aside, Filip has also given everything he’s got in his job. Including the time he spent at the school for master motorcycle and bicycle mechanics. “That’s going to be quite a challenge, on top of your racing,” his friends warned him. “I’ll manage,” was Filip’s reply. “I’m up for it.” He has long since gained his Master Craftsman Certificate.

Experience that comes right on cue

It was during his super bike phase that Filip met Marc, who since 2012 has headed the constantly growing development team dealing with motorcycle-related matters at EDAG. In 2017, Filip’s enormous experience and technical know-how came right on cue. Particularly when the latest developments for BMW are concerned.

“We are working flat out on brakes and control systems,” reports Filip. Aside from working in the office and development laboratories, more than anything else, this means a great deal of active testing for the racer: “On the test track, we want to find out about the status of the ABS and traction behaviour on different surfaces. After all, this concerns the safety and durability of our systems.”

A coach on the podium at the World Championship

Filip had in fact already ended his active racing career. The only reason he was still at the track was as a riding coach. His last competition was the long-distance Superstock World Championship with the German Endurance Racing Team. But then, mid-race, one of the three team members injured his hand. Filip had to step in, and promptly led his team to a place on the podium. “Long-distance racing is a team sport,” says Filip. “It’s not just about putting the rider on a pedestal and then wending your way home again after eight hours. In a team, you just have to see a 24-hour race through. Everyone is equally important, even the cook. And if I’m fit, well then I also ride, too. It’s a question of the success of every one of us.” For Filip, far from being an imposition, this is “pure enjoyment”.

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