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A One of a Kind Center in Germany’s Academic Landscape - EMC Lab at the Zwickau University of Applied Sciences

Cars are evolving increasingly into computer networks on wheels. The number of on board electronic systems is increasing continuously; the same is true for their network integration. So that information and data can be exchanged securely within milliseconds, all electrical and electronic components need to operate flawlessly down to the smallest circuit. An important aspect in this is the electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) of vehicles. They and their individual components must be immune against electromagnetic interference which occurs, for example, in the vicinity of radio broadcasting stations and mobile radio transmitters; and they shouldn’t emit any interfering electromagnetic energy themselves. The scientists at the Center for Automotive Electronics at the Zwickau University of Applied Sciences (WHZ) are working on the EMC compatible design and construction of vehicles and components as well as the development of EMC testing and measurement procedures. Their EMC Lab, which was officially inaugurated in 2011, is not only the core field of their activities, but is also one of a kind in Germany’s academic landscape.

  • Prof. Dr. Matthias Richter was the initiator of this unique research facility. Born in Zwickau, he had worked on the EMC sector in the automobile industry for twelve years, which also included Opel and Audi, before he returned to Saxony to “his” university in 2007. The Professor for Communication Technology and EMC is also the WHZ’s Vice Rector for Research and Knowledge Transfer.

Professor Richter, what makes the EMC Center so unique?

It’s unique because of its specific focus on motor vehicles. The EMC requirements for electronic systems in vehicles are distinctly more sophisticated than safeguarding EMC in other sectors. Towards this end, we’ve got the necessary equipment and, above all, our highly educated employees; the majority of whom we recruit from our graduates; and most of them have been part of our staff for many years now. We’re, thus, on equal footing with the automobile manufacturers.

What inspired you to establish this center?

I made my key experience when I was working at Audi. Even though the WHZ was known as an institution with a strong affinity to motor vehicles back then, it was not a university for junior engineers specializing in motor vehicle electronics. But it’s actually this area of specialization which has enormous potential for instruction and research on behalf of industry. As an automobile university, we need to cover all facets ranging from mechanics to electronics/software all the way to production engineering for automobile construction and the requisite economic aspects. Today, virtually every university department is involved in the topic mobility.

How does the automobile industry espouse and accept this specific profile?

Very well. Particularly in the motor vehicle electronics sector, we’re in great demand and highly coveted as a development partner. We’re doing business with all German manufacturers. The WHZ’s perception as an automobile university has reached a significantly broader technological level even though we’re still far from covering everything specifically in the electronics sector.

Which tasks are on the agenda?

First, there are projects which revolve around the increasing integration of electronics into vehicles. Simply put, the objective is to connect the individual elements, modules, and components with one another in such a way that they do their job securely and precisely. A second large area encompasses the electromobility sector and, in particular, the requirements for power electronics. The conversion of alternating current from the grid into direct current for batteries and their use for drive and propulsion tasks still has a huge potential for breakdowns. That’s why we’re expanding our investigations into how charging operations and drive and propulsion tasks can be handled in a secure and stable manner. With this topic, we’re also a partner of the Showcase Bavaria-Saxony ELECTRIC MOBILITY CONNECTS project. Together with Ingolstadt University of Technology, we’re also establishing qualification programs for those who work full time while pursuing their bachelor’s and master’s degrees in the electromobility sector.

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EMV-Labor an der Westsächsischen Hochschule Zwickau (WHZ)

Das Zentrum für Kfz-Elektronik an der WHZ beherbergt u. a. eine geschirmte, futuristisch anmutende Halle. Hier werden Fahrzeuge hinsichtlich ihrer Immunität gegenüber elektromagnetischer Störenergie und bezüglich ihres elektromagnetischen Emissionsverhaltens analysiert und optimiert. (Quelle: Westsächsische Hochschule Zwickau - WHZ)

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