Bernd Reifenhäuser is of the ﬁrm opinion that supporting vocational training and research is essential for future corporate success. He values IKV very highly as a training and research institute, and is keen to support it in a variety of ways. For this reason, he has initiated the Reifenhäuser Sponsorship Award, which will be presented for the ﬁrst time at the 30th International Colloquium Plastics Technology in recognition of outstanding scientiﬁc achievement in the ﬁeld of plastics technology.
What motivated you to initiate the Reifenhäuser Sponsor- ship Award for an outstanding ﬁnal paper in plastics tech- nology? And why is it important for you to award the prize this year despite the corona pandemic?
Bernd Reifenhäuser: With this award, we want to motivate young people who are passionate about research in the ﬁeld of plastics technology to continue to strive for exceptional achievement. Particularly in these corona times, we have seen time and again that plastic is an excellent material for protecting not only our foodstuffs but also our health. Whether in the form of respiratory masks, protective clothing or other medical products, plastic makes an important contribution to solving health problems. For this reason, the prize should be awarded not only despite corona but also because of corona, so that upcoming scientists continue to be fully focused and feel passionate about their research.
Why did you decide to award the prize during the IKV Colloquium?
Bernd Reifenhäuser: In my opinion, IKV is a unique institution worldwide, not only with regard to its status as a research institute but also especially as far as the academic and practical training of young plastic engineers is concerned. And the IKV Colloquium is also unique in the world of plastics technology. This event provides a perfect framework for awarding this prize.
What characteristics should the prize winner or the winning paper have?
Bernd Reifenhäuser: The paper should naturally be of outstanding academic maturity. But it is not only a question of the academic side. The prize winner should be full of enthusiasm to research new areas and should also have the courage to think out of the box.
The prize is directed at young talent from the university environment of plastics technology. What advice would you give to upcoming engineers from this ﬁeld for the future?
Bernd Reifenhäuser: In the last few years, plastic has gained a bad name, sometimes justiﬁed: In the environment, plastic has become a problem. Yet to a large extent, this generalised criticism is not applicable because plastic is a highly efﬁcient material that does not need to shy away from comparison with other materials. And plastic can offer sustainable solutions for a better environment. “Plastic bashing”, as it is known (i.e. that plastics should be avoided across the board) can only be countered by clarifying the facts at political and social level. But above all, we must now also offer solutions, and I hope that this award will help to motivate young researchers to seek out these solutions, which can be a very exciting and interesting task.
*Interview given on 29 June 2020