Dr. Christian Klostermeier, Chief Commercial Officer at B&K Vibro, on the idea: “We want to help introduce boys and girls to technology at an early age, awaken their interest and create a basic understanding of it.” He sees how important the promotion of young talent is in his own company. “Industry 4.0 is on everyone’s lips today. What we do is the heart and soul of 4.0. We provide machine data so that automation processes and predictability of runtimes and downtime risks become possible in the first place.”
Despite technology being an exciting and innovative environment, B&K Vibro has problems finding qualified, skilled workers. This worker shortage is not an isolated case. In March 2022, for example, there was a shortage of over 300,000 workers in mathematical, scientific, and technical professions in Germany – around 120 % more than in the previous year.**
The suggestion to contact technika – Karlsruher Technik-Initiative – came from the ranks of the B&K Vibro staff. The project to promote technology and IT skills among schoolchildren started in 2014 at the instigation of technology-enthusiastic parents. Since then, 116 schools, most of them in Baden-Württemberg, have been supported – among other things, by equipping them with construction kits from fischertechnik.
A private foundation supplies most of the finances for technika. However, there are sponsorships, prize money, and events such as the School Robotic Cup, the Girls’ Digital Camp, or fischertechnik working groups. fischertechnik GmbH, which has been developing and producing well-known modular systems since 1965, has also been involved in training and apprenticeships for a long time.
Stephan Kallauch, MINT*** coordinator of the initiative, brings sponsors and schools together. The recipe for success? “The children learn in a playful and fun way,” says Kallauch. “There is no right or wrong. They make their own experiences without learning pressure and in an uncomplicated interaction.”
The school curricula cover mathematics and physics very well. But there are glaring deficits in the teaching of computer science and technology. “For example, if young people have never had contact with mechanics, electrical engineering, or control and regulation systems, they are ill-prepared to study mechatronics,” Kallaunch says.
Many don’t know what to expect. The drop-out rate is high. The situation is similar in the field of computer science. Because of the rapid technological developments, Germany is urgently needing young people to secure the country’s position as a center of technology.
Björn Schwenger, a secondary school teacher at the Marienhöhe School Centre and head of the Robot Construction Lab Working Group for about two years, also sees it this way. Schwenger is looking forward to the new equipment because it will enable the twelve students from grades 5-10, who meet once a week for two school hours, to implement more complex and demanding projects.
Achim Ulrich, commercial director of the school center, is also grateful for the industry’s support. Like many so-called alternative schools, the state-recognized public school is chronically underfinanced. It is particularly difficult to finance special projects.
So far, there has been no sponsoring in the area of technology at the Marienhöhe School Centre. However, Ulrich is convinced to use the fischertechnik construction kits: “It is a very creative product that encourages the children in dealing with technology. Many already have the system at home anyway.”
When the Marienhöhe School Centre faced the choice between full funding and funding with a personal contribution, he said, they opted for the latter because the scope of the equipment is much greater, and there is also value in each personal contribution.
Dr. Klostermeier from B&K Vibro and Stephan Kallauch as the representative of the Karlsruhe Technology Initiative officially handed over construction kits to the school administration on 10 May.
Given the need to promote young talent in the STEAM field at an early stage – regardless of gender or social framework conditions – all those involved hopes that such initiatives will “set a precedent” in the truest sense of the word.
*STEAM: Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics
** Source: mintzukunftschaffen.de
***MINT: Mathematics, Computer Science, Natural Sciences & Technology