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Doctoral Students in the Limelight

Doctoral Students in the Limelight

The Volkswagen Doctoral Students’ Day is an important event, both for the Group and for the doctoral students. The aim is to present academic work to a broader specialist audience, to gather new impulses and to make contacts for possible follow-up projects.

More and more exhibitors, more and more attention, more and more international: The Volkswagen Group’s Doctoral Students’ Day is taking place for the 14th time this year and has grown into an event which is well regarded throughout the Group. Over 230 PhD students currently work at Volkswagen AG. Around 100 of them will present their projects on September 20, 2019 – to colleagues from other brands and divisions, university professors and a few members of the Management and Supervisory Boards.

The PhD students will present their project succinctly on informative posters, while explaining details of their work to those who are interested. This year’s focus is on sustainability, with topics ranging from D for drive technology to R for raw materials. Thematic tours are also planned for the exhibition. In addition, there will be a bilingual series of lectures on the topics of virtual vehicle development and simulation, digitalization and Industry 4.0, new mobility and, of course, sustainability and the environment.

Gaining visibility in the Group

Around 500 guests are expected at the Wolfsburg MobileLifeCampus this year. And who knows, perhaps some colleagues will find precisely the project that will provide crucial assistance for their own department. “That’s exactly what the Doctoral Students’ Day is intended for: to gain visibility, to present forward-thinking research projects to a broad audience, to establish networks,” says Kim Neugebauer, central personnel officer for the doctoral students’ program.

„“By supporting young academics, the Volkswagen Group is taking social responsibility and investing in its own future at the same time. Because in order to solve complex tasks, particularly in this period of transformation, highly qualified young professionals are more important than ever.”

Gunnar Kilian Board of Management member for Human Resources

For these highly qualified young professionals, the Volkswagen Group is more than a very good address. That’s because, at the Volkswagen Group, it is possible not just to do research, but also to gain a couple of years – usually three – of professional experience at the same time, enabling them to gather important insights. The doctorate program also includes, for example, helping out in Production for three weeks. “Directly on the assembly line, in shifts, just like other colleagues in Production,” explains Kim Neugebauer, who is also a previous participant in the doctorate program. The Group also guarantees that the doctoral students can devote more than half of their working hours on their doctoral thesis and that other activities in the department do not predominate.

More than 100 young academics from the brands Volkswagen, Scania, MAN, Bugatti and Volkswagen Financial Services will present their projects at the Volkswagen Doctoral Students’ Day. Armin Aniol, PhD student in materials research, is one of them. This day provides an impressive display of the Volkswagen Group’s innovative strength.

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Cars made of wood - Volkswagen Doctoral Students’ Day 2019

Networking, excursions and alumni evenings

The doctoral students’ program has the important task of making the young academics feel at home both within and beyond the workplace. The voluntary association of all current and former PhD students at the Group aims to direct students’ attention beyond their own subject area and department. For example, during fireside evenings, the doctoral students talk with managers of the Volkswagen Management Association (VMA) – this year, for example, with the Volkswagen brand’s Board of Management member for Development, Frank Welsch. Excursions at home and abroad are also part of the program, as are regular pub meets, alumni evenings and networking with doctoral students from other brands and companies. “At such events, the important thing for us is always, firstly, to gain an insight into the various Group brands and, secondly, to exchange views with PhD students at the Group brands,” emphasizes doctoral student spokesperson Lars Reimer.

There are also regular sporting activities; the doctoral program even has its own dragon boat team, whose members train on the Allersee lake once a week during summer. Also on offer for the PhD students and alumni: a skiing vacation in the Alps and this year, for the first time, a surf camp in Portugal. Last year, together with the Works Council, the doctoral program issued an invitation to “kick and cook”: together with refugees, they played football in the VfL Wolfsburg arena, after which everyone cooked together. This event will take place again this year in a similar format.

The combination of interesting projects, a good working atmosphere – including remuneration – and a healthy work-life balance helps to make Volkswagen even more attractive as an employer and to retain even more highly qualified young professionals in the company. How successful the Volkswagen Group is at gaining the loyalty of its talents is shown by this figure: last year, over 95 percent of doctoral students remained with the company after completing their doctorate. In other words, it’s a worthwhile program for both parties.

Further information on doing a PhD while at Volkswagen: Doctorate programme.

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