Theory and practice
Brigitte Hammer has liked investigating things ever since she was a child. Her curiosity is far from being satisfied. She’s particularly proud of the achievements behind the name TPN-W 780.
I have a passion for research. For me, being a researcher doesn’t mean waiting for a brilliant idea and then tinkering with it alone and in secrecy. No, first and foremost research means rigorous scientific effort as part of a team. I’ve been interested in science and mathematics ever since I was a child. That’s why after school I studied metallurgy, gained my doctorate and now I’ve been researching steel for thirty years – it’s so interesting and varied I could easily do it for another thirty. And still my curiosity wouldn’t be satisfied. Steel is a captivating material. I’m fascinated by its diverse properties and the possibilities it offers.
I’ve worked in the ThyssenKrupp Group for 29 years. I spent the first few years in electrical steel research but now I deal with multi-phase steels at ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe. As a project coordinator I usually work on several projects in parallel, concentrating not just on one development effort but several. And they span several years. Currently we have five projects going on at the same time, which means you have to be organized.
A typical working day? I don’t really have one, it depends on what phase of a project I’m in. Some days I’m in the office all day: computer on, lots of coffee, writing e-mails, preparing and holding meetings, evaluating test results, answering questions, preparing presentations, talking with colleagues, organizing tests, preparing customer contacts. Days like these are packed so full that I only have time to read my research literature in the evenings and on weekends.
But there are other days – the ones I like especially – when I’m in the plant, usually at the Bochum hot strip mill. That’s where we carry out production trials to test how our steels behave under real rolling conditions. I find this incredibly exciting: Will everything go okay? Have we done everything right? How will the trials work out? Of course sometimes projects have been broken off, but thankfully that’s pretty rare. One special project for me was TPN-W 780 – a high-strength hot rolled multi-phase steel for use in crash-relevant parts in the automotive industry.
The project won first prize in the Steel Tomorrow competition in December, something the team and I are very proud of. TPN-W 780 is now being sold on the market. It took a lot of team effort to achieve this success together. Of course I need a counterpoint to all the science, that’s why I love my garden, which I spend a lot of time in relaxing. I like reading, dancing, listening to music and keeping fit. I also travel a lot, usually in Europe, but I’m also fascinated by Japanese culture. I’ve visited this wonderful country several times due to a cooperation project with a Japanese steel manufacturer, and I’ve grown to love the Asian sense of serenity.