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Prof. Dr. Mario Theissen

until July 2011 Director of Motor Sports at BMW

Prof Mario Theissen studied mechanical engineering at the RWTH Aachen from 1971-1977 and completed his Ph.D at the RUB Faculty of Mechanical Engineering in 1989. He had already been involved with BMW as a certified engineer since 1977. Today, he is an honorary professor at the Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft Dresden (Dresden Technical College and College of Economics) and until July 2011 Motor Sports Director of BMW (Formula 1).

Compared with other universities, which had developed over decades, it was all cast from one mould, so to speak.

RUB Alumni: Why did you choose Bochum to do your Ph.D at?

Prof. Theissen: As a young BMW engineer I worked in engine calculation. The load alternation programme PROMO came from Bochum; the contact came about via the FVV working group. After 2 years of cooperation I contacted Prof. Seifert and he took me on as a Ph.D student.

RUB Alumni: Why did you decide to do your doctorate?

Prof. Theissen: It was the rare opportunity to link academic and industrial work that attracted me.

RUB Alumni: Did it help you in your career?

Prof. Theissen: In my case the title of Doctor had no influence because I was already at the company. And in that situation only performance counts.

RUB Alumni: Could you give us a brief outline of how your everyday work looks?

Prof. Theissen: During the racing season, work is divided up at three places: Munich, where the Formula 1 engine is created and the other racing projects are also based. Then there is the Formula 1 team base in Hinwil, Switzerland. And then, of course, the racetrack itself. I commute between the locations and am at the racetrack from Thursday afternoon until Sunday evening. The range of tasks is a very broad one: technology, drivers, racing strategies, sponsoring and press relations are all included.

RUB Alumni: What was your first impression of the campus architecture?

Prof. Theissen: At the time, the campus made a very modern and new impression. Compared with other universities, which had developed over decades, it was all cast from one mould, so to speak. Unfortunately, I never got to know campus life. As an external Ph.D student I was only at the RUB on a day-to-day basis.

RUB Alumni: What people or places you got to know at the RUB hold special memories for you?

Prof. Theissen: Since I did my doctorate nearly 20 years ago, my companions from that time haven't been involved in academia for a long time. I'm still in contact with Prof. Seifert, and the ceremonial act for his birthday was also the reason I last visited the RUB.

RUB Alumni: What tips or advice would you give to today's Bochum students?

Prof. Theissen: Knowledge of your subject is important, but being a student means more - such as developing your personality. Your time as a student should also be used to get to know other cultures, people and ways of thinking. If you don't do this, your preparation for working life is incomplete.

RUB Alumni: Thank you for talking to us.