Katharina Steineder has been working as a Research Engineer at voestalpine Stahl GmbH in the research area of cold strip development since October 2016. Despite her young age, she has already amassed a wealth of experience at the company.
In early 2013, Katharina Steineder had already begun working on her dissertation project “Medium Mn Steels” at the Graz University of Technology/TU Graz on behalf of voestalpine. So even before she was actually employed, she had already spent four years working for the company. When the time came to choose a permanent job, she “consciously chose this”. “I knew the team I would be joining, and working in a positive environment—both in terms of the people and the profession—is highly motivating. There are just so many role models among my colleagues who inspire me to think: I would like to be there one day,” Katharina explains.
"voestalpine is very well positioned with its products, but it is obvious that the competition never sleeps. Therefore, I think investing continually in the site is a good idea and the right thing to do in order to stay ahead."
Yet the thought that she would end up in the private sector was not a foregone conclusion during her time at the University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria/FH OÖ in Wels (studies in materials and process engineering) and later at the Institute of Materials Science, Joining and Forming of the Graz University of Technology. “Academic careers occasionally require that you wait a very long time to achieve success. At voestalpine, in contrast, I can see the results of my research and hold them in my hands.” This was Steineder’s experience upon the successful large-scale realization of her highly innovative dissertation project—the happiest moment of her career to date. “Even then, I wanted to see more of the company and to be closer to the operational problem in order to understand the direction we needed to take for research.” By now, everyone knows her and has come to trust her expertise. “The fact that it is possible to earn this kind of appreciation, of course is motivating.”
"I support a very innovative project but also work on something that is close to realization. Research at voestalpine is attractive because it offers these practical perspectives."
Day-to-day work is certainly a little different. It involves interpreting results accurately, taking part in meetings and holding presentations, staying up to date by participating in conferences and conducting research using literature, all the way to supporting small-scale test procedures on different equipment, employing diplomacy in order to foster relationships that will inspire confidence among the team—confidence that you are proficient in what you researched, and that you won’t break the machine, Katharina explains with a laugh. “I am so lucky that I am able to continue supporting the future project that was the subject of my dissertation while also supporting a project that is already much closer to market implementation. That project involves prototype deliveries with entirely different, highly specific requirements. In other words, things that are important to the customer which can not be given much attention in preliminary research. It is helpful here not only to have the trust of the colleagues but also to have some self-confidence.”