From steel to the stars

Two soon-to-be certified electrical engineers help rebuild Bochum Observatory's satellite receiving station

With its Institute for Environment and Future Research (IUZ), Bochum Observatory is one of North Rhine Westphalia's key research and education establishments and as partner to NASA a player on the international stage. During the rebuild of one of the observatory's satellite receiving stations from February to June 2014, two employees from ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe became involved through a project in connection with their training to become certified electrical engineers: Christian Czoske (39), responsible for repair planning and preventive maintenance at the BOF meltshop 2 in Duisburg, and Patrick Hoffmann (29), fire system technician in communication technology at the Bochum plant, together with three other project team members from Bochum's municipal vocational college Technische Berufliche Schule 1 (TBS 1) and the IUZ, developed an automatic control system for the new antenna installation, which now adjusts position as if by magic.

"What was so exciting for us with this project was that it has to do with space technology, so it's something completely out of the ordinary," say Czoske and Hoffmann, trained energy electronics engineers specializing in industrial engineering. "We not only designed the new control system, we built and installed it. In the process we learned to document our procedures professionally. A great opportunity and a brilliant experience!" And that's not all: "As well as gaining more specialist knowledge, certification training has given me more confidence in my own abilities – that's valuable at work and in my life outside work too," says Hoffmann. "Training to obtain further qualifications opens up lots of opportunities and stops you from standing still, not just personally but also at work. I'd do it again without hesitation and I can recommend it to everyone because extra training always pays dividends," adds Czoske. Both men passed their exams and are now officially certified engineers.

Certification training is provided by various colleges, including the municipal vocational college TBS 1 in Bochum. A choice is offered between a two-year full-time course and a four-year part-time course, at the end of which students who pass the examination earn the title "certified engineer".