IKOS Consulting Deutschland GmbH sponsors the first company scholarship at the "Friedrich List" Faculty of Transport and Traffic Sciences at TU Dresden.

An interview with Ulrich Grüner, Director Business Development, about the company's reasons for this and why it is worth studying transport today and in the future.

Mr. Grüner, your company, IKOS Consulting Deutschland GmbH, is investing a lot of money over the next two years to fund a scholarship for a Master's student at the faculty. Why is your company doing this?

Ulrich Grüner (UG): Rail is an important factor in solving current challenges such as climate change and in the design of future sustainable transport systems. There is still a lot of work to be done by engineers and Master's graduates in this field. In other words, there is an enormous need for young professionals. As a consulting company for engineering services in the rail sector, we are also aware of this. With the scholarship, we want to support the faculty in drawing attention to attractive study programs such as Railway System Engineering or Electrical Transportation Systems and thus attract more new Master's students to the faculty. In addition, the scholarship holders should be able to concentrate fully on their studies and not get caught up between their part-time job and their studies. And, of course, we want to present ourselves as an attractive employer and promote ourselves.

This is the first scholarship of its kind for your company in Germany. Why did you choose the "Friedrich List" Faculty of Transport and Traffic Sciences at TU Dresden for this?

UG: We love technology and we love railway systems - we would like to pass on this passion. At the faculty, we see this approach combined with excellent teaching and orientation of the railway system study programs. We also have state-of-the-art technical equipment. Students come into contact with the latest railroad technology during their studies. This is unique in Germany. Our approximately 1,500 employees, who support customers in the rail sector, are also always up to date with the latest topics such as ETCS (= European Train Control System). The TU Dresden can also compete very well internationally. This is why the TU Dresden University of Exzellence and its Faculty of Transport and Traffic Sciences are a very good match for us and our mission.

The application phase for the scholarship ended on 22 September 2023, after which a jury met to select the most suitable candidate. What should the scholarship holder provide?

UG: Well, first and foremost a love of technology and a certain affinity for the railway system. After all, we see the selected young person as an ambassador for these topics, perhaps to inspire other students for the engineering profession and the railroad sector. Independence, a desire for self-organization and communication skills are also values and required soft skills in our company.

Will the scholarship holder also be introduced to career prospects at IKOS during the Master's program?

UG: Yes, we would like to present ourselves as an attractive employer and highlight possible career opportunities with us. The student will be invited to our headquater office and research laboratory in Paris. This is where IKOS originated. We also offer an internship in one of our German offices, including an insight into future topics that we are working on, such as the Hyperloop drive for trains. And, of course, the scholarship holder can write his/her Master's thesis at IKOS and use our research lab for it. In short, we want to show who we are and get to know the scholarship holder at the same time. And if both sides want it, there will be a job offer at the end of the program.

What challenges is IKOS currently facing in recruiting professionals?

UG: Finding enough qualified employees is one thing. Finding professionals with certain skills is another. And here I'm not so much referring to engineering expertise, but to language skills, for example. In an international context, language is a kind of superpower to stand out. In every country, the rail industry is more local than international - also in terms of language. This means that end customers such as Deutsche Bahn or Hamburger Hochbahn are based in Germany and expect our employees to speak German - or the customer's national language. Our employees don't always get any further with English. Another challenge is to stand out from the crowd of employers and be noticed. The entire industry is looking for young professionals. That's why the scholarship is also an opportunity for us to raise awareness of IKOS as a company among students.

Consultants often work for a client for months and are then also on site with the client during the week. Does that also make the search for new employees at IKOS more difficult?

UG: This type of customer service was very common for us before COVID-19. Due to the lockdowns during the pandemic and the switch to digital collaboration with our customers via video calls and other tools, we have become creative and have continued to do so to this day. Before the pandemic, our consultants were at the customer's site from Monday to Friday for months, but now they travel on average every two weeks for around one or two days. Depending on their personal preference, our employees can decide how they divide their working hours between digital work and on-site work at the customer's premises.

The rest of the time, everyone works from home?

UG: It depends. Our employees want a hybrid structure, i.e. partly working from home and partly in the office, in order to have a social connection and office culture. We have therefore expanded our office infrastructure in Germany and rented more offices. These shared offices can be booked on a daily basis via an online booking system. In the virtual space, the teams also come together briefly every day for around 15 minutes in a video call, there is a longer consultation meeting once a week and a face-to-face team meeting takes place once a month.

Let's move on to another current topic on the labor market: Women in engineering. How many female engineers work at IKOS?

UG: Around a third of our employees are women. However, we are noticing differences between countries. In Spain, more young women choose to study engineering than in Germany. As a company, we would like to help, advertise, offer prospects, etc. to increase the proportion of women among engineers in Germany in the coming years. As mentioned, our new post-COVID-19 structures with agile working and fewer travel and presence days with customers increase our attractiveness as an employer - especially (but not only) for women. Further training can also be carried out conveniently online. We have our own online platform with training courses. For those who want to "get out and about", we offer further training in the IKOS Lab and technology conferences with presentations for all interested parties.

Exciting tasks, appealing employers and a high demand for skilled workers: Are these reasons why it is worth studying transport and traffic science today?

UG: Absolutely - but not only for these reasons. Transport, and rail transport in particular, is a key global issue when it comes to solving and managing current and future challenges. Getting more goods and people "onto the rails" is a central component of a sustainable transport transition. However, this requires a massive expansion of infrastructure, sustainable concepts, new technologies and much more. This will keep us busy for generations to come. The electrification of transport, hydrogen drives, Hyperloop for rail, networked transport on road and rail - there is so much to do. Innovative (engineering) solutions are needed, and not just for the railroads. These must be devised and implemented by well-trained, creative and enthusiastic people. Traffic and transport are colorful and diverse. They are needed, today and tomorrow. Because tomatoes (just like other goods and people) cannot be delivered to your home via the Internet. Sustainable transport systems are needed to transport them.

Description of the photo above: Ulrich Grüner, Director Business Development at IKOS Consulting Deutschland GmbH (2nd from right) visited the "Friedrich List" Faculty of Transport and Traffic Sciences on 28 February 2024. In the Railway Operation Laboratory, he met scholarship holder Juan Diego Vega Idárraga (2nd from left) as well as Dr. Michael Krieg and Dr. Beate Lux, Managing Director and Laboratory Manager at the faculty respectively.


Dr. Michael Krieg, Managing Director

"Friedrich List" Faculty of Transport and Traffic Sciences

TU Dresden

E-Mail: michael.krieg1@tu-dresden.de

Studying Transpoprt and Traffic - What else?!


About IKOS Consulting Deutschland GmbH

© IKOS Consulting Deutschland GmbH

IKOS Consulting Deutschland GmbH is a consulting group specializing in rail and energy technology and offers development services for train manufacturers, rail network operators and energy suppliers worldwide. The company's mission is to help shape ecological transformation and develop safe and sustainable means of transportation for the future.

With 25 subsidiaries in 13 countries, IKOS offers the opportunity of an international career in a multicultural environment. Supported by the in-house R&D department IKOS Lab, 1,500 engineers are currently working on projects in the fields of control and safety technology, rail vehicle construction, telecommunications, energy and high voltage, as well as infrastructure and track systems.

Further information about the company can be found at: https://www.ikosconsulting.com

About the Scholarship

By offering scholarships from the first semester of the Master's degree course, the "Friedrich List" Faculty of Transport and Traffic Sciences would like to work with companies to support particularly talented applicants who are expected to excel in their studies and careers.

The first company to provide financial support for such a scholarship is IKOS Consulting Deutschland GmbH, based in Berlin. The scholarship, financed by IKOS and awarded by the faculty, will be awarded for the first time in the winter semester 2023/24 to a first-semester student from one of the two Master's degree programs "Railway Systems Engineering" or "Electrical Transport Systems". The scholarship holder will receive 750 euros per month for 24 months.

Detailed information on the IKOS scholarship as well as the application and selection process for the faculty's scholarships can be found on the website of the "Friedrich List" Faculty of Transport and Traffic Sciences: https://tu-dresden.de/bu/verkehr/studium/stipendien