Surname, first name: Borgeest, Kai
City, country: Aschaffenburg, Bavaria
Study program/Degree: Electrical Engineering (Computer Engineering) / Diplom, PhD
Year of graduation: 1993, PhD 1998
Employer and position: initially Robert Bosch GmbH, Stuttgart, development engineer and project manager; since 2003 University of Aschaffenburg, Professor of Automotive Mechatronics
Why did you choose the TUHH at the time and was it, in retrospect, a good decision?
My previous university was a “mass university” with an average study period at the time of nearly 16 semesters. At the TUHH the standard period of study was enough, and that included a study period abroad.
Do you recall the first impression that the TUHH made on you?
In those early days there was a great deal of improvisation. I remember, for example, the rats in the former Eichenhöhe ballroom evidently shared our interest in control engineering and dashed around the lecture room. The TUHH nonetheless made a modern, family impression, and that mainly positive impression was confirmed in the course of our studies.
How, in a nutshell, would you describe your time at the TUHH?
To begin with there was a lot that you simply had to get on and over with. It was only later that I found out what use it was. When in later semester more practical considerations came into play it was much more fun. The friendly, optimistic basic outlook was good.
What was your motivation for choosing this subject and this career?
Today I would opt for mechatronics, but back then electrical and mechanical engineering were my preferences. I wanted to gain a deeper understanding of what I had assembled, disassembled, or repaired as a youngster and wanted to have good career prospects.
What is your advice on getting off to a good career start in your industry?
Get a breadth of knowledge, including areas beyond the subject you are studying (such as international experience and societal commitment). Training as a student to write exams for a good grade in the time allowed may be a good way to get a good grade, but in industry you are no longer required to solve standard exam questions in the time allowed. It is more important to have understood everything and to be able to put it to use.
What do you use from your studies in your job?
An astonishing amount, more than the 10 percent that is often mentioned, but you almost always only know exactly what you need later on in your career. What matters is to understand a lot. Mere factual knowledge is always something that you can look up if required.
What does your typical working day look like and which competences does it require?
It starts with a whole lot of bureaucracy, e-mail pingpong and paperwork (tending to increase with each successive reform), but that is true of nearly every job, including jobs in industry. The key competence is to ensure that this work does not destroy too much productive time and that what cannot be avoided in these categories is nevertheless dealt with on schedule (time management). The most pleasurable part of the job is teaching and research. No day is like the next, which is how it should be. In teaching you need in-depth specialized knowledge, but it is much more important to enjoy teaching and have the courage to try out forms of learning that go beyond the classic lecture. At Universities of Applied Science (Fachhochschulen) research is much more difficult than at conventional universities, which is why most professors at Fachhochschulen do no research. I do – as far as I can. That is why the most important skill is the ability to improvise.
If you were the TUHH President …
I believe that the TUHH has the right President as it is. I would tackle many things in much the same way, especially strengthening the qualitative importance of teaching.