November 7, 2018 | UBC President Santa Ono visits the DLR Center for Lightweight-Production-Technology in Augsburg

Lightweight construction and the factory of the future: DLR@UBC cooperation agreement signed in Augsburg

  • Research cooperation agreed between DLR and the University of British Columbia, Vancouver (UBC)
  • The DLR@UBC cooperation will focus on new technologies for lightweight construction in the aviation sector, ground-based transport and the factory of the future
  • Focus: aviation, digitalisation, industry 4.0

Representatives from the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) and the University of British Columbia, Vancouver (UBC) came together in Augsburg to sign a cooperation agreement for the DLR@UBC research initiative. This German-Canadian collaboration will focus on new technologies for lightweight construction in the aviation sector and ground-based transportation, as well as on the digitalised, highly automated factory of the future. The high-level delegation from Vancouver with UBC President Santa Ono, as well as Sabine Doering-Manteuffel, President of the University of Augsburg, were welcomed at the DLR Center for Lightweight-Production-Technology (ZLP) in Augsburg for the signing ceremony.

Factory of the future and lightweight construction for future mobility

"In Industry 4.0, digitalisation represents one of the central challenges facing the industrial sector and the research community alike," explains Pascale Ehrenfreund, Chair of the DLR Executive Board. "Our German and Canadian scientists from UBC and DLR are working together in this field to develop both physical and digital technologies, as well as robot-based production methods for the lightweight construction of next-generation aircraft and ground-based modes of transport."

High-performance lightweight construction and its highly automated, digitally assisted production are indispensable for air- and ground-based future transport. In total, four DLR institutes at six locations in Germany are currently working on new technologies – from materials, concepts and demonstrators through to automated production, as well as digital twins in the meaning of industry 4.0. The Faculty of Applied Science at the two UBC locations in Kelowna and Vancouver engages in a broad portfolio of research in the fields of digitalisation, robotics, the factory of the future and lightweight production technologies. On this basis, the DLR@UBC cooperation was gradually expanded over the last three years under the slogan 'Bridging the physical and digital world'.

During the visit to the DLR site in Augsburg, the UBC delegation took the opportunity to gain some insight into DLR's research in the fields of lightweight production and the factory of the future. Professor Ono was visibly impressed by the variety of topics and the unique infrastructure. "A wonderful, complementary cooperation and a highly motivated, integrated team has emerged here in virtually no time," he said during the presentation of the cooperation topics. "I am looking forward to actively supporting the continued expansion of our collaboration." Professor Ehrenfreund plans to make a return visit to the UBC sites in Vancouver and Kelowna in April next year.

Broadening the research cooperation

An exchange programme for scientists, undergraduate students and doctoral students is one of the key elements of the German-Canadian cooperation. As an example, UBC signed a contract for a joint doctoral programme with the University of Augsburg is another important step forward in further expanding and building on the multi-year partnership with DLR. We all know that research collaboration is important in building long-term deep partnerships, and students are key to that long-term success. The opportunity for students to work with mentors at both institutions and explore Joint PhD options reflects the importance of their contribution to building and supporting our partnership," explains Professor Ono.

Speaking on behalf of the University of Augsburg, Sabine Doering-Manteuffel added: "I am delighted at the visit by President Ono and the whole UBC delegation. It illustrates the global visibility of the University of Augsburg and the entire metropolitan region. It would not have been possible without the outstanding collaboration between the university and DLR. We will continue to expand our scientific cooperation in the years to come."

More than 40 scientists at the DLR sites in Cologne, Stuttgart, Augsburg, Braunschweig und Stade, as well as at the UBC locations in Vancouver und Kelowna, are currently participating in the DLR-established initiative. DLR has already set up two liaison offices at the UBC campus in Vancouver to coordinate the German-Canadian venture and to establish contacts within the industrial sector. Likewise, there is a UBC office at the DLR location in Augsburg.


Bernadette Jung

German Aerospace Center (DLR)
Corporate Communications
Münchener Straße 20, 82234 Weßling
Tel: +49 8153 28-2251

Nicole Waibel

German Aerospace Center (DLR)
Institute of Structures and Design
Center for Lightweight Production Technology (ZLP)
Linder Höhe, 51147 Cologne