Doing your PhD at the Fraunhofer ITWM
My name is Sebastian Osterroth and I am doing my PhD in the Department for Flow and Material Simulation (SMS) at the Fraunhofer Institute for industrial Mathematics (ITWM) in Kaiserslautern. I started my PhD in March 2014 and before that I was studying industrial mathematics at the Technical University of Kaiserslautern.
As a PhD student at the ITWM you have the possibility to work and study in the middle of industry and education. In general ITWM offers a scholarship for three years and the PhD is done in cooperation with the Technical University of Kaiserslautern. Therefore the work is supervised by two advisors, one at the university mostly responsible for the scientific side and one at the ITWM for the application side.
As part of the team of ITWM you get your own office and have access to a good IT infrastructure with a whole bunch of software-tools and computational resources. The integration in the working groups is very well and direct insight in industrial projects is given. Often collaboration in actual projects is possible and your own developments might be used there. Via this participation you can directly see, in which way mathematics are involved in the daily industrial application. Further you get the possibility to visit both, scientific and industrial conferences to share your work with other researchers and to get in contact with people from industry working in this field. Additionally a large program of workshops and skill enhancement is offered with courses containing scientific topics as well as soft skills. Most of them are offered by the Innovation Center Applied System Modeling.
In my studies I am dealing with cake filtration. Let me note that except of the word cake there is no connecting to a bakery, but the deposition of dirt on a filter medium is in the industrial language called filter cake. The modeling and simulation of this process is important for the design of the filter medium and the filter element. The filtration process usually starts with depth filtration, where the particles are deposited inside of the medium. From a specific point on, the filter medium is loaded and particles start to deposit at the surface of the medium. If we consider for example a round pleated filter as shown in the article on FiltEST, the deposition of particles on the surface means that the pleats get clogged and the filtration performance is influenced a lot. One crucial point is the increase of the pressure drop during the build up of a filter cake, which can lead to a complete clogging or a deformation and in the worst case a damage of the filter element. On the picture you can see the evolution of the pressure drop for a flat filtering medium. The pressure drop during depth filtration is much lower as for cake filtration and thus a prediction of the pressure drop is very important.
My experience so far at the ITWM is very well and I have never regretted my choice. It is a great challenge to do mathematical research in direct connection to industrial application and every day I enjoy my work with a lot of nice colleagues in a friendly and cooperative atmosphere.