Lydia Kaiser has been an ECDF Professor for "Digital Engineering 4.0." since March 2021. In her research, she focuses on the transformation the manufacturing industry is undergoing through digitization processes and the opportunities and challenges that companies are experiencing as a result. "Technical systems are now networked, which in some cases results in new business models. How can we shape these new processes? This question must be considered sociotechnically and interdisciplinarily, not purely technically: Who needs this solution? Engineers, employees in purchasing or marketing? We need to understand the players and their needs in order to develop solutions," explains Lydia Kaiser. The first step is not to develop new software, but to bring together the solutions that already exist and potential users. "In a second step, I also want to help design solutions - this includes adaptations of existing software but also new concepts with integration of artificial intelligence methods."
Kaiser's research with systems engineering approaches fits very well with the ECDF's vision: digitization for all, digitization beyond disciplines, people at the center of digitization. "In companies that realize technical systems, questions from software engineering have to be answered more and more often. However, traditional mechanical engineers and software developers often approach these questions very differently. The goal is to enable them to work on the process on an equal footing," says Kaiser, describing her research project. In addition, industry boundaries are increasingly being lost and new types of collaboration are also emerging within the value chain. These developments must be approached in the overall system and systematically in order to identify the right solutions. People are always at the center of product development: Technological progress should be used in such a way that it supports people in their work. New solutions should therefore be developed with the user in mind.
"The professorship at the ECDF is something special for me: the topic is newly set up and I can help shape it from the very beginning, and all this in an interdisciplinary environment with colleagues from a wide range of disciplines," says Kaiser. After several years in applied research, she is now looking forward to going deeper into research at a university. She also hopes that the working world will change for her private life: "I am a mother of three and until a few years ago it was unimaginable for me to combine a professorship and my children - now I am confident it will work out! I would like to see us, as a society, change the way we work so that women after me no longer have to ask themselves the question of compatibility. With this dual role, I also want to be a role model for other women in science and encourage them to do the same," says the engineering doctor.
Lydia Kaiser started her scientific career with a bachelor's and master's degree in physics at the University of Paderborn. In December 2013, she earned her doctorate there with the dissertation title "Framework for Modeling a Plausible System Structure of Mechatronic Systems" at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering. After four years as a research assistant at the Chair of Product Design at the University of Paderborn, she gained experience in applied research at the Fraunhofer Institute for Mechatronic Design. At the latter, she headed the Systems Engineering department together with a colleague from 2018 until her appointment at the ECDF. (sif)