Once again 40 students from various disciplines were called upon to develop practical solutions to real-life problems on behalf of eight companies during the Technology Symposium at the European Forum Alpbach.
Again this year, the Metal Engineering Division of the voestalpine Group attended the TU Austria Innovations Marathon at the Forum Alpbach to solve tricky tasks. The five Alpbach scholars in each team were given a total of 24 hours to come up with solutions and develop prototypes in response to a real-life problem. Over the 24 hours 1,000 ideas were born in the Alpbach Congress Centre, and on August 25, 2017 one potential solution was presented to each of the eight companies.
Metal Engineering Division with specific real-life task
Thomas Starzer, Managing Director of the voestalpine Forschungsservicegesellschaft Donawitz GmbH, and Gerald Klösch, Head of the Product and Processing Department at voestalpine Stahl Donawitz GmbH, represented the Metal Engineering Division at Alpbach where they supervised the projects and devised the problems. The problem they brought for the students to solve was: Failure detection in the steel casting process. Although this was a particularly challenging task for the (technical) students, they went about solving it in a highly motivated manner.
"The students did their very best in the 24 hours, approaching the practical task in hand highly competently. The suggested solutions they came up with are very helpful and most thought-provoking: we will now analyze their feasibility internally. Whatever the outcome, I thank the students for their tireless efforts."
Developing an innovative idea
This extremely complicated task involved developing a concept for a continuous, non-destructive testing process to detect failures both on and just below the surface of still hot, endless strands during the continuous casting process, as well as measuring their topography and geometry. The challenge laid not so much in detecting failures, but in doing so under prevailing high temperatures of 1000°C and the rough operating conditions. The team, most of them technicians and some already graduates, submitted excellent work and proposed a bundle of innovative acoustic, optical, and physical methods. The solutions will now be discussed internally amongst the process specialists at voestalpine Stahl Donawitz GmbH, and are likely to be considered further.
The idea of an innovation marathon
The innovation marathon is divided into three phases: after the starting gong the teams are told the task they are to work on. The subsequent analysis phase lasts for around 10 hours. At the end of this phase the teams work together with the business partners to reformulate the tasks. During the incubation phase the students leave their workplaces and give themselves the opportunity to think about all the information they have. The object of the solution phase is to focus intensively on the task, and to derive the most realistic solutions and approaches possible from all the ideas generated.
voestalpine, OMV, and VERBUND discussed the energy future at Alpbach
New, innovative, and cross-sector cooperation between industry and the energy sector is needed to shape the energy future. During the Alpbach Business Symposium, Franz Kainersdorfer, Member of the Management Board of voestalpine AG and Head of the Metal Engineering Division, discussed setting the agenda for the energy industry with members of the Management Boards of OMV and VERBUND.