Press Release 081/2009

An Engineer Must Know More Than Just Engineering

Faculty Colloquium on the Occasion of the 200th Birthday of Ferdinand Redtenbacher
Ferdinand Redtenbacher
Ferdinand Redtenbacher (1809 – 1863) (Picture: Universitätsarchiv Karlsruhe)

On July 25, Ferdinand Redtenbacher would have become 200 years old. Redtenbacher is not only the founder of scientific mechanical engineering. As a long-time professor (1841–1863) and director of the former Polytechnical School of Karlsruhe, he made the Universität Karlsruhe gain international recognition. The Faculty of Mechanical Engineering will celebrate Redtenbacher’s birthday with a colloquium on Friday, July 24, 15 hrs, at the Tulla-Hörsaal (building 11.40, Englerstraße 11).

“Redtenbacher realized very early that an engineer must know more than mere engineering”, underlines Professor Martin Gabi, dean of the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering. “For this reason, he put all his efforts into an integrated engineering education”. It was the opinion of Redtenbacher that progress in engineering is essentially based on the synthesis of mathematico-scientific basic knowledge and social competence, on the one hand, as well as on the classical art of engineering and technical skills, on the other.

In 1847, Redtenbacher, together with the chemist Carl Weltzien, established separate professional schools for mechanical engineering and chemistry. Since then, the departments of architecture, civil engineering, chemistry, and mechanical engineering have existed in parallel, combined with a basic mathematical education. “This structure was taken over by nearly all technical universities in the following decades”, says the head  of the Karlsruhe University Archive, Dr. Klaus Nippert. “Hence, Redtenbacher contributed decisively to establishing this type of university.”

In the honor of this ingenious engineer and university teacher, the faculty has now rearranged a collection of historic constructive demonstration objects, which were partly created by Redtenbacher himself. This collection will be open to visitors during the day at the Altes Maschinengebäude (building 10.91, Engelbert-Arnold-Straße 4) from July 24.

The invited lecture of the faculty colloquium on June 24 will be presented by Dr. Klaus Mauersberger, director of the art collection of the Technical University of Dresden, who wrote a biography on Redtenbacher’s lifework together with Professor Jörg Wauer from the KIT Institute of Technical Mechanics and Professor Francis Charles Moon from the Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. This biography was published in the international journal “Mechanism and Machine Theory”. On the occasion of the faculty colloquium, a special edition of the biography in the German language will be displayed.

Journalists are cordially invited to the colloquium.  


Opening of the colloquium with a birthday cake and coffee

Welcome by the Dean of the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering Professor Dr.-Ing. Martin Gabi

Address by the Vice-President
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Jürgen Becker

Ferdinand Redtenbacher –
Founder of Scientific Mechanical Engineering
Invited lecture by Dr.-Ing. Klaus Mauersberger,
Director of the art collection
of the Technical University of Dresden

2008 Ph. D. Student Award
Dr.-Ing. Willy-Höfler Ph. D. Student Award

Ceremony of Awards in the German-French Studies Course 2008
L´Oréal Awards

2008 Graduates Award
Hand-out of diploma and bachelor certificates

Musical program: Ensemble Dalel Quartet

Being “The Research University in the Helmholtz Association”, KIT creates and imparts knowledge for the society and the environment. It is the objective to make significant contributions to the global challenges in the fields of energy, mobility, and information. For this, about 9,800 employees cooperate in a broad range of disciplines in natural sciences, engineering sciences, economics, and the humanities and social sciences. KIT prepares its 22,300 students for responsible tasks in society, industry, and science by offering research-based study programs. Innovation efforts at KIT build a bridge between important scientific findings and their application for the benefit of society, economic prosperity, and the preservation of our natural basis of life. KIT is one of the German universities of excellence.

lg, July 20, 2009


Monika Landgraf
Head of Corporate Communications, Chief Press Officer
Phone: +49 721 608-41150
Fax: +49 721 608-43658
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Contact for this press release:

Monika Landgraf
Press Officer
Phone: +49 721 608-21150
Fax: +49 721 608-41150
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