Olivia S. gave back the grant she received from the University of Klagenfurt to help her finance a semester in Australia.
“Without the grant, I would not have been able to spend a semester abroad and I am deeply grateful for the help I received at the time. Now it is my turn to make this support available to another student.”
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Dr Reinhard Ploss, you lecture in the field of innovation management at the University of Klagenfurt. What do you find fascinating about innovations? What role do innovations play for a company like Infineon?
Nowadays, managing innovation is part of my job, but in truth I became fascinated by it very early on. To make things possible that were not possible before, to push boundaries and thereby make a positive difference – that is a powerful motivation for me. It’ s also what Infineon is all about. Demographic change, urbanisation, climate change, resource scarcity and the digital transformation – all of these are global challenges that demand novel solutions. We are contributing to this with our innovative semiconductor technology. This is exciting not least because there is no blueprint for success. We always have a rough idea of how we want to go about creating something new, but quite often the direction changes somewhere along the way. Aside from technological expertise, this requires courage, drive and ingenuity, in a nutshell: a positive, creative mindset.
The University of Klagenfurt and Infineon share numerous links in terms of innovation, for example in the fields of AI and logistics. What is your personal connection to the University of Klagenfurt?
The scientific cooperation between Infineon and the university is of great value to both sides. I am delighted that, to give you an example, the endowed professorship in “Adaptive and Networked Production Systems”, will allow us to develop and launch Industry 4.0 solutions with lasting success. In this way, we can pool our knowledge and create synergies. My personal connection to Carinthia stems from the fact that I started my professional life as an engineer in Villach, where I worked for four years, and later I served as CEO of Infineon Austria. That’s when I learned to treasure the country and its people. When faced with the task of continuing to develop the location in the direction of high-tech and entrepreneurship, the idea to cooperate with the University of Klagenfurt seemed obvious. I am always very happy to be invited to teach at Klagenfurt University and enjoy the lively interaction with professors, lecturers and students.
You have “donated” your teaching fees back to the University of Klagenfurt. What prompted you to take this step?
It gives me immense pleasure to pass on my knowledge and to spark enthusiasm for technology and innovation in young people. I would like to contribute something and I am pleased to have the opportunity to do so at the University of Klagenfurt. I don’t want a fee for that, I’d rather the university uses the money for the good of the students.
The universities are training the innovators of tomorrow. In your opinion, why should more people follow your example and support universities privately as well?
Universities have an important role to play in society, politics and the economy. This is where existing knowledge is passed on and new knowledge is generated. Knowledge and education are essential if we are to master the most pressing challenges of our time, such as those I mentioned earlier. Science provides answers, but its significance already begins at an earlier stage. It builds a common understanding of the current problems and thus creates an indispensable basis for public discourse. That is why the funding of universities is of utmost societal importance. Moreover, lifelong learning is gaining ever greater importance, and as such, it is in the interest of each and every individual to become involved in the academic sphere.