The New Faces at the TN Faculty

The Faculty of Engineering & Natural Sciences is pleased to welcome eleven new professors to the JKU. Today we spoke with Michael Krommer.

Professor Michael Krommer
Professor Michael Krommer

Originally from Linz, Michael Krommer (49) is returning to the JKU as a professor for Technical Mechanics. We spoke with him about why and talked about why his field of research is very broad.

What is your area of research?
Michael Krommer: Although my research is, of course, in the field of technical mechanics, to date and throughout my academic and scientific career, I have tried to not focus on just one main area. I try to keep my research area as broad and open as possible. However, if I had to define a subfield in technical mechanics, it would certainly be nonlinear structural mechanics, taking inelastic constitutive processes into account. These range from conventional elastoplasticity to ferroelasticity and morphoelasticity. I not only focus on theoretical aspects such mathematical modeling and numerical simulations, I also find it very important to apply my findings to real-world applications.

What do you find particularly fascinating about this area?
Michael Krommer: Since the area technical sciences have emerged, Technical Mechanics have evolved from mechanics – most likely the oldest part of physics – to become an indispensable fundamental subject area in many engineering sciences. As a researcher, I find engineering mechanics to be exciting because I not only work on advancements in mechanics itself, but in lieu of current engineering applications and challenges, I also forge new paths to areas such as mathematics, electrodynamics, chemistry and biology.

What are you currently working on?
Michael Krommer: I am currently working on modeling and simulating irreversible constitutive processes in solids, elastoplasticity and ferroelasticity, in particular. As part of a three-dimensional formulation, we are developing new, efficient finite elements, and transferring these findings to a two-dimensional formulation in order to efficiently and accurately simulate the way very thin structures behave. For example, we can apply the methods we are developing to simulate thin sheets that are used in steel production and steel processing as well as thin electro-active materials that serve as the basis for the design of new, so-called smart materials and structures.

Why is this research even necessary, meaning how will it improve our lives?
Michael Krommer: I believe that even in this day and age of fleeting and transient concepts (such as digital twins, cyber-physical systems, digitalization, etc.), conducting research on modeling and simulation – like the kind we conduct at my institute – will always be warranted. Based on the laws of physics, the research we conduct in these areas remains an important foundation to develop, improve, and optimize mechanical processes and machines. We conduct method-oriented research and as a result, our findings are also directly applied to border areas in the field of modern mechanics and can interact with other sciences (including biology and medicine). In this regard, I believe we will also contribute to improving our lives here in the future. This is what I most certainly have in mind.

Why did you choose to come to the JKU?
Michael Krommer: I had worked at the JKU for a long time before going to the TU in Vienna and as the JKU is also my alma mater, I am very familiar with this university. The decision to return was not difficult. While good ‘selling points’ include the newly renovated campus, a good work environment with colleagues and staff, and direct contact to students, the research and teaching opportunities available here as well as outstanding future prospects at the JKU ultimately tipped the scales in favor of returning to Linz.

Why should students take your classes?
Michael Krommer: As an educator, I consider myself to be both a lecturer as well as an active, inspiring and motivating researcher. I believe I can convey the image of engineering in a lively way and show students the real-world applications instead of in the way content is often perceived, which is dry or heavy in theory.

What are your hobbies?
Michael Krommer: If, in addition to my work and family responsibilities, I still have some time, I try to spend time on practical mechanics by, for example, exercising by cycling or playing with my dog.

What else do you want to do or achieve in your life?
Michael Krommer: Over the past 30 years, my predecessor, Hans Irschik, made the institute what it is today: a world leader in the field of mechanics. So, in terms of university education and research, in the future I intend to ensure that the Institute of Technical Mechanics continues living up to its well-earned reputation. We will only be successful, however, if we - as an institute - continue conducting research at the forefront of modern engineering as well as affiliated areas. As one of the original graduates of the mechatronics program when it began and having taught mechanical engineering at a conventional technical university for over 5 years as a professor, I would like to incorporate ideas to a greater extent from the Linz mechatronic program into the new mechanical engineering program so that the unique symbiosis we have in Linz results in a mechanical engineering program that is completely new and pioneering in the field of international engineering education. Personally, in my old age I hope to remain young at heart and find more time in the future to devote to my family and my hobbies.