The Faculty of Engineering & Natural Sciences is pleased to welcome eleven new professors to the JKU. Today we spoke with Bernhard Sonderegger.
What is your area of research?
Bernhard Sonderegger: I conduct research in the field of materials science as part of the triad between applied mechanical engineering, base-knowledge physics, and numerical methods in mathematics and computer sciences.
Why did you choose to come to the JKU?
Bernhard Sonderegger: In lieu of my research, the JKU provides a progressive environment that is strong in the area of mechatronics and computer sciences so I can continue building on this. There is also a strong tradition of good connections to industry, allowing me to contribute right away as well as shape the mechanical engineering program.
What do you find particularly fascinating about this area?
Bernhard Sonderegger: The complexity. Our most recent material model is comprised of 28 coupled equations with approximately 50 parameters. Each equation and each parameter are a small piece of physics so in the end, you span the entire curve from quantum mechanics to steel pipes or aluminum alloys. What I finding exciting is that you can describe things as well as understand them; this can also include artificial intelligence, but it goes much farther than that.
Why is this research even necessary, meaning how will it improve our lives?
Bernhard Sonderegger: This research will help create a more sustainable society. Specific materials can be developed in shorter time periods than before and according to the desired properties. When it comes to production processes, we can also take resource consumption, energy consumption, CO2 emissions, etc. into account and maximize the finished material’s durability span in advance.
Why should students take your classes?
Bernhard Sonderegger: I consider the successful completion of an examination or a degree program as a joint project between students and educators; we are a team.
What are you currently working on?
Bernhard Sonderegger: At the moment, I am working on a physics-based "material simulator" for alloys. The special feature here is that although we strictly adhere to deep physics, the computing times are short and in the long run, this will enable things like reverse engineering.
What are your hobbies?
Bernhard Sonderegger: At the moment, my two children (ages 2 and 4) take up most of my time at home. However, as soon as I have some free time again, I would like to focus more on geography, geological history, astronomy, traveling, modern art, as well as sports & exercise (running, skating, skiing, longer bike rides).
What else do you want to do or achieve in your life?
Bernhard Sonderegger: Professionally, I would like to systematize what we know in materials sciences and integrate it all into a series of "simulators" that would then be available for education and industrial purposes; the keyword here is "digital transformation". Personally, I want to focus on my family until the children have "flown the nest". Then I'll ride my bike around the world!