Master's student Juan Diego Vega Idárraga from Colombia is a scholarship holder. IKOS Consulting Deutschland GmbH and the transport and traffic sciences department at TU Dresden are breaking new ground together.

The demand for engineers is high. The transport industry in particular is desperately looking for qualified young professionals to plan and further develop current and future transport systems. Companies are almost desperately looking towards universities in the hope of recruiting more graduates. IKOS Consulting Deutschland GmbH is not content with just hoping. It is taking a new approach to recruiting young talent.

The global consulting group, which specialises in railway and energy technology, is the first company to fund a two-year company scholarship for a Master's student at the "Friedrich List" Faculty of Transport and Traffic Sciences. The recipient receives 750 euros per month for 24 months.

The official meeting between the company and the scholarship holder took place at the faculty on 27 February 2024. In the presence of Dean Prof. Regine Gerike, the scholarship holder, Juan Diego Vega Idárraga, and Ulrich Grüner, Director Business Development at IKOS, met for the first time and got talking.

From his love of Germany to the love of rail and railway

Juan Diego Vega Idárraga has been studying for a Master's degree in Railway System Engineering at TU Dresden since the winter semester 2023/24. He has been interested in Germany since he was 14 years old. He voluntarily learns German at a language institute in Colombia alongside school. At the time, he could not have foreseen that his heart would one day beat for rail and railway and that he would see his professional future in this field. How could he, when there is virtually no functioning railway system in Colombia? "People either take the bus or get on a plane for long domestic journeys," he reports.

After leaving school, he began a bachelor's degree in civil engineering at the largest and most prestigious university in Colombia, the Universidad Nacional de Colombia in Bogotá. As part of his studies, he spent a winter German course in Aachen in 2020, sponsored by the DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service). In his free time, he travels a lot through Germany - by train. And somewhere along the long stretches of railway across the country, something happened: "I was fascinated by the world of trains and really impressed by the German railway system, how well developed, efficient and punctual it is," he recalls. Some German rail travellers may smile briefly here if they have ever been stranded at a station due to train delays. "Anyone who complains about the German railway system should try travelling by public transport in Colombia," says Juan Diego Vega Idárraga in response to sceptical looks.

From a semester abroad to a full Master's degree in Dresden

It is precisely these kinds of young people that IKOS Consulting Deutschland GmbH is looking for as junior specialists, says Ulrich Grüner in an interview he gave to "Verkehrslage" after the new scholarship was set up. "We love technology and we love railway systems - we would like to pass on this passion."

Juan Diego Vega Idárraga already has this passion. The young Colombian is returning to Germany once again in October 2022. This time for a whole semester at the TU Dresden, "Friedrich List" Faculty of Transport and Traffic Sciences. During his studies, he is particularly interested in rail transport systems and railway construction as well as the development of transport projects. He also stays in Germany after the semester and completes an internship at an engineering office. This is also where he is writing his Bachelor's thesis on "Technical contributions of the German railway regulations in the area of infrastructure to the new railway guidelines in Colombia as part of the railway master plan".

Working in Germany or Europe after graduation

The Bachelor's degree is to be followed by a Master's degree - this time entirely in Germany at the TU Dresden, specialising in railway system engineering. Not everyone around him is in favour of this choice. His father in particular was sceptical at first, says the student. He does not see the career opportunities for his son in Colombia.

However, he would like to stay in Germany or Europe after his studies to gain professional experience. He could also imagine working in Spain later on. Ulrich Grüner and the IKOS team will be pleased to hear this. Although the scholarship does not oblige the scholarship holder to work at IKOS, "we would of course like to present ourselves to the scholarship holder as an attractive employer and show them possible career paths with us. And if both sides want it, there will be a job offer at the end of the programme," says Ulrich Grüner in an interview with "Verkehrslage". IKOS also has teams throughout Europe, including in Spain.

Perhaps one day he will return to his home country for work

But first of all, it's time to study. And with a scholarship in your pocket, that's even easier. "I'm very happy about the scholarship. It means I have to work a lot less on the side than I initially thought and can concentrate much more on my studies," says Juan Diego Vega Idárraga.

Juan Diego Vega Idárraga does not want to completely rule out the possibility of working in Colombia one day. "The government has a railway master plan to build a railway infrastructure in the country. If the plan takes off, many railway experts will be needed. Perhaps I will then be needed with my future professional experience." That would certainly please his family and definitely his father.

Read also

Verkehrslage spoke to Ulrich Grüner, Director Business Development at IKOS Consulting Deutschland GmbH, about the company's reasons for funding a scholarship and why it pays to study transport. To the interview

About the Award Procedure

The Faculty Council appointed a committee and a chairperson to award the scholarship. One person from IKOS Consulting Deutschland GmbH was represented on the committee as an advisory member, but without voting rights. The selection was made on the basis of the application documents.

Second Company Scholarship at the Faculty Announced

Rail Power Systems GmbH (RPS), based in Munich, is the next company to provide financial support for a scholarship at the "Friedrich List" Faculty of Transport and Traffic Sciences in order to actively shape its own engineering and skilled labour requirements.

The scholarship, which is funded by RPS and awarded by the faculty, will be awarded to a first-semester student from one of the two Master's degree programmes "Railway System Engineering" or "Electrical Transportation Systems" for 24 months starting in the winter semester 2024/25. The scholarship holder receives 750 euros per month.

Detailed information on the Rail Power Systems Scholarship as well as the application and selection process can be found at:

Studying Transport and Traffic - What else?!


Dr. Michael Krieg
Managing Director
"Friedrich List" Faculty of Transport and Traffic Sciences
TU Dresden