Wüllnerstraße 7, after construction 1964

History of the Institute

The Institute for Lightweight Design (IfL) was founded in 1955 by Professor Dr.-Ing. Hans Ebner, after he had been appointed to RWTH Aachen University by the German Research Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics (DVL). He headed the institute until his retirement in 1968, giving new impetus to lightweight design with his shear web theory.

His successor was Professor Dr.-Ing. Joachim Kowalewski came from the DVL, Institute for Strength, and he joined the Institute for Lightweight Design in 1969. In 1974, he returned to private industry but remained at RWTH as an honorary professor of lightweight design until 1977.

In 1977, Prof. Dr.-Ing. Huba Öry was appointed director of the institute. He expanded the institute's previous research focus, structural dynamics and aerodynamics, power plant engineering, and plant construction, to include topics on the design and investigation of wind turbines (rotor dynamics, aerodynamics, and structural design), rotor blades for GRP cooling towers, piping in plant construction and structural design in spacecraft construction. He headed the institute until his retirement but retained his consulting role until his death.

  Willnerstraße 7, nach der Sanierung in den 90er Jahren

His successor, Prof. Dr.-Ing. Hans-Günther Reimerdes, took over the chair and Institute for Lightweight Design (ilb) in 1992. Under his leadership, a wide range of scientific projects on lightweight design with a focus on aerospace technology was worked on, the results of which were included, among other things, in the "Handbook of Space Travel". In particular, his research on the prevention/reduction of damage to space vehicles by micrometeorites and space debris is worth mentioning in this context.

Since August 2014, Professor Dr.-Ing. Kai-Uwe Schröder has been the director of the institute. With him, research foci and teaching were extended to the fields of structural mechanics and structural health monitoring. This professional expansion was also recorded by name of: Institute for Structural Mechanics and Lightweight Design (SLA).

  Prof. Ebner, founder of the institute Copyright: © RWTH Aachen

Professor Dr.-Ing. Hans Ebner

* 21.06.1900 in Breslau
† 24.04.1977 in Aachen

1919-1924 Diploma studies at the RWTH Aachen, Faculty of Civil Engineering

1929 Doctorate at the TH Berlin ("On the calculation of spatial trusses in aircraft construction: wickerwork with surplus rectangular cross walls")

1927-1937 Scientific assistant at the German Experimental Institute for Aviation (DVL) in the research areas of aircraft statics and airship construction; later head of department at the Institute of Strength and the Institute of Naval Aviation

1946-1953 Self-employed engineer in the field of "measuring technology on buildings" (experimental and theoretical investigations in the fields of statics, dynamics, and strength) as well as development and construction of measuring instruments

1955-1968 Full Professor at the RWTH Aachen University and Director of the "Institute for Lightweight Design" (IfL) which he founded

In 1937/38 Prof. Ebner developed the stiffened shear web theory together with Herrmann Köller, which is now firmly anchored in the curriculum of every engineering degree course. He was a corresponding member of the German Academy of Aeronautical Research and an Associate Fellow of the Institute of Aeronautical Sciences New York. For his investigations in the field of shell strength, he received the prize of the Lilienthal Society.

  Prof. Dr.-Ing. Joachim Kowalewski Copyright: © RWTH Aachen

Professor Dr.-Ing. Joachim Kowalewski

* 02.06.1930 in Berlin
† 10.11.2019 in Aachen

1949-1955 Diploma studies at the TU Braunschweig and the University of Stuttgart, Faculty of Civil Engineering

1956-1962 Scientific assistant at the German Experimental Institute for Aviation (DVL) at the Institute for Strength

1962 Doctorate at the RWTH Aachen ("On the relationships between the service life of components in the case of irregularly fluctuating and ordered load sequences")

1961-1963 Structural engineer in the bridge construction department of the Gutehoffnungshütte in Sterkrade

1963-1964 Assistant to the Management Board of Orenstein-Koppel und Lübecker Maschinenbau AG

1964-1969 Head of the Institute of Strength of the German Experimental Institute for Aviation (DVL)

1969-1974 Full Professor at the RWTH Aachen University, Head of the Institute for Lightweight Design

1974-1977 Honorary professor for lightweight design at the RWTH Aachen

  Copyright: © RWTH/SLA

Professor Dr.-Ing. Dr. h. c. (H) Huba Öry

* 16.07.1927 in Arad, Siebenbürgen, Rumänien,
† 04.12.2015 in Bremen

1945-1949 Diploma studies with a specialization in aircraft construction at the Technical University of Budapest (Hungary), Faculty of Mechanical Engineering

1949-1956 Assistant, later leading assistant at the Institute of Aircraft Construction of the Department of Aviation, Shipbuilding, and Railway Vehicles at the TU Budapest

1957 Uprising in Hungary, escape with his family to France

1957-1959 Engineer in Coléoptère development at the engine manufacturer SNECMA, Mélun-Villaroche, later head of the static and dynamic department

1959 Change to the company Focke-Wulf-Flugzeugbau AG

1961-1967 Establishment of the structural mechanics department in the newly founded company ERNO Raumfahrttechnik GmbH, to which the space division of Focke-Wulf-Flugzeugbau AG was spun off

1967-1977 Head of the Structural Mechanics Department of ERNO Raumfahrttechnik GmbH

1976 Doctorate at the Technical University of Munich, Institute for Lightweight Construction ("The load-bearing capacity of a thin-walled circular ring surrounded by a prestressed rope: The design of the MARMAN connection" under Professor Dr.-Ing. habil. Gerhard Czerwenka)

1977-1992 Full Professor at the RWTH Aachen University, Head of the Department and Institute for Lightweight Construction of the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering

The Faculty of Transport and Vehicle Sciences of the Budapest University of Technology and Economics awarded him an honorary doctorate in 1986. In 1999, he was awarded the Eugen Sänger Medal of the German Aerospace Society (DGLR) for his special services in the field of space science or space equipment at the request of DaimerChrysler Aerospace AG-Raumfahrt.

Professor Öry was a full member of the "International Academy of Aeronautics" and a foreign member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.

Besides his teaching and research activities at the RWTH Aachen University, he was a permanent consultant for the company ERNO Raumfahrttechnik GmbH, and later for EADS-ASTRIUM in Bremen in the field of structural mechanics in spacecraft. He was involved in developing the ARIANE launcher and was decisively involved in building up the space community in Germany.

Professor Öry was an internationally renowned expert in many fields of mechanics, lightweight construction, and aerospace, and an enthusiastic university lecturer. As such, he was very committed to improving teaching. With the support of his scientific staff (internal and external), he quickly expanded the range of lectures offered by the institute in various disciplines, e.g. the design of thin-walled support structures for plant engineering and aerospace technology, the design of small aircraft, vibrations in lightweight construction, aeroelasticity, industrial aerodynamics, and fiber composite technologies. In addition, he has established bilateral relations with various universities worldwide, e.g. Lyon, Toulouse, Patras, Liverpool, Bandung, Budapest, and Milan, for joint research and supervision of doctoral theses.

He has written numerous nationally and internationally recognized scientific publications on lightweight construction topics in several languages.

  Prof. Dr.-Ing. Hans-Günther Reimerdes Copyright: © RWTH Aachen

Professor Dr.-Ing. Hans-Günther Reimerdes

* 17.03.1948 in Flemhude

1970-1973 Diploma studies with a specialization in aircraft and engine construction at the University of Applied Sciences Aachen

1973-1978 Diploma studies with a focus on aerospace engineering at the RWTH Aachen University, Faculty of Mechanical Engineering

1984 Ph.D. at the RWTH Aachen ("On the calculation of interlaminar stresses at the edge of circular holes in multilayer laminates" under Professor Dr.-Ing. Hub Öry)

1978-1986 research associate at the Institute for Lightweight Structures and Conceptual Design at the RWTH Aachen

1986-1992 Group leader of the analysis procedures department of the central department of structural mechanics at ERNO Raumfahrttechnik GmbH

1992-2014 Full Professor at the RWTH Aachen University, Head of the Department and Institute for Lightweight Construction of the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering

Professor Reimerdes is a member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) and the German Aerospace Society. (DGLR). He has been involved in the "Protection" working group of the Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee (IADC) and in the DGLR "Structure and Construction" group.
His main research topics were the stability behavior of thin-walled shell structures, statics, stability and strength of sandwich structures, construction methods with fiber composites, the optimization of stiffened shell structures, the failure behavior of fiber composite structures, protection systems against hypervelocity impacts, the stability behavior of shell structures, calculation and design of fiber composite structures as well as the crash and impact behavior of lightweight structures. These have been incorporated into the institute's teaching program, extending its expertise.