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Henkel invests heavily in young engineers

For three years now, Henkel has been engaging in promoting young engineers. In addition to offering numerous training programs, participation in the annual Formula Student contest for engineering students at the Hockenheimring has become a central component of Henkel’s commitment in this area. The special award for best use of adhesive, which Henkel instituted in 2009, was won this year by the team from Bayreuth University.

The design competition attracts a great deal of interest internationally, with teams from colleges and universities from all over the world taking part. It ranks as a kind of unofficial Olympics for engineering students. Competing against all other entrants, the teams have to design and build the prototype of a new racing car from scratch, present it as a business case, and test its performance in various trials and a final race. 78 teams in the Combustion category and 31 more in the Electric category made it to the final round to be judged at the Hockenheimring at the beginning of August.

For the General Industry business of Henkel as one of the main sponsors, the five-day event is one of the highlights every year. Up to eight Henkel adhesives experts were available at any time to give the contestants advice or lend a helping hand – in the pits, working on the cars themselves, or at the Henkel stand. The latter was not only well-stocked with high-performance repair and maintenance products from Henkel’s Loctite and Teroson brands, but also featured workbenches and even a heating cabinet to accelerate curing of different adhesives.

Special award for best use of adhesive

In order to inspire these enthusiastic students to become even more creative, Henkel established a special award for the best use of adhesive throughout the whole contest. Submissions are judged on the attractiveness and creativity of the bonding application, the way the adhesive was selected and verified, the presentation made to the jury, and the students’ knowledge about bonding technologies.

From a large number of submissions, seven teams made it through to the final round. The award went to Bayreuth University, ahead of last year’s winner Zwickau University, with Coburg University taking third place.

“Last year, the entries were already of a very high standard,” says Rudolf Neumayer, Head of Application Technology, Industrial Adhesives, Europe. “But this year, they raised the bar several notches further. This trend shows that we are definitely moving in the right direction with our educational approach.”

Henkel’s level of engagement in the entire contest earned high praise, not only from the contestants themselves but also from the organizer. “Henkel was present with a large team and often performed last-minute rescue jobs,” said Ludwig Vollrath of VDI (the Association of German Engineers), who is in charge of the event. “People were highly impressed by that.”

Multiplier effect and greater awareness of the brands

Henkel therefore also profits from this commitment. “The five-day finale of the contest was itself attended by around 2,500 students, professors and design specialists,” says Patricia Silva, Marketing Manager, General Industry. “No other event throughout the year draws so many highly interested people with a will to experiment. Having such a representative target group all in one place means that we can achieve important multiplier effects and heightened awareness of our brands.”

“Bonding is simply the most dependable solution!”

This view is shared by many people, including Moritz Berard (23), a student from Karlsruhe University, who participated in the contest. “For me, bonding is one of the best solutions there are, and easily the simplest and most dependable one,” says Berard summing up. “It opens up whole new worlds and gives an immense amount of design freedom.”

Although more and more students beginning to realize this, Henkel’s engagement is actually a medium to long-term investment that not many companies take the trouble to make. But the benefits can already be estimated today, thinks Alfred Kaltenbach, Area Sales Manager for Baden-W├╝rttemberg of Henkel’s General Industry business.

“In Germany alone, about 2,200 young engineering graduates start their careers by going straight from university into private enterprise, where sooner or later they will occupy key positions,” he explains. “When engineers who have previously learned about our adhesives and sealants then design new components, they will already be familiar with all the advantages of adhesive bonding technologies and will include this joining technique in their design considerations right from the beginning. This way, adhesive bonding, which was unfortunately often regarded as a last resort in the past, will gain the status it deserves. And we intend to make sure that the young engineers’ experiences with Henkel have been entirely positive.”

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