Composites United e. V. invited members to its fifth Annual General Meeting on November 16, 2023. The event took place as a hybrid event with around 100 guests at the Augsburg Technology Center. The agenda included the election of the Executive Board for the next two years.

Augsburg, November 2023 | The members of Composites United e. V. (CU) met on November 16, 2023 for the fifth general meeting. Prof. Klaus Drechsler (Fraunhofer IGCV, Chair of Carbon Composites at TU Munich and spokesperson of the CU Executive Committee) welcomed the guests on site at the Augsburg Technology Center as well as the members connected online via livestream. In his welcome address, he emphasized how gratifying it was to finally be able to hold a general meeting in person again. 

Before moving on to the agenda, he and the guests remembered Ralph Hufschmied, who had recently and unexpectedly passed away. As a member of the Executive Committee, Ralph Hufschmied was active and committed to the CU in many different ways. Prof. Drechsler emphasized that Ralph Hufschmied left a lasting mark on the world of fiber composite technologies and that his loss leaves a noticeable gap in the CU community.

Innovative impulses from the theater

The keynote speech by Tina Lorenz from Staatstheater Augsburg shed light on innovative concepts from the theater laboratory, including the concept of a hybrid opera and sign language transitions in virtual performances. Although these impulses came from a completely different sector, there were common ground: Innovation, progress, creative thinking and involving the community are also criteria for success for the CU members.

Promotion and strategy: focus on lightweight design

In the subsequent report by the Executive Committee, Prof. Drechsler provided information on the successful work on the political stage and the results of the current member survey, among other things.

The funding of the MAI Carbon Cluster of Excellence by the Free State of Bavaria until 2027 is a sign of the recognition of the cluster’s work and therefore a great success for the association and its members. Thanks to successful lobbying and the CU’s position on the advisory board of the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Protection’s (BMWK) lightweighting initiative, the lightweight design strategy for Germany as an industrial location has been incorporated into the federal government’s lightweight design strategy. A particular focus of the strategy is on promoting SMEs, networking relevant stakeholders for knowledge and technology transfer, new rules for the circular economy and more intensive communication that makes the potential and benefits of lightweighting visible. The CU has already been active in all of these areas in recent years and will continue this work proactively in the future.  

As the climate targets can only be achieved through international cooperation, the CU has also continued to promote cooperation with European and international partners. In addition to the “No European Green Deal without Lightweight Design” event in Brussels in May 2023 with European politicians and partner associations, the 3rd European Lightweighting Network Meeting in Stockholm in June 2023 also aimed to establish a European lightweighting strategy.

The CU regularly surveys its members on current issues and needs, most recently in summer 2023 on the topics of digitalization and public relations. The results show that companies and research institutions are primarily interested in events and networking activities as well as information on developments in the field of composites. The results and suggestions will be worked on intensively by the new Executive Committee and the offices in order to continue to focus on the interests and needs of the members.

Report of the Executive Board: Activities and finances

Dr. Gunnar Merz, CEO of the CU, reported on the wide range of activities and presented highlights from the CU’s clusters and networks.

CEO Dr. Gunnar Merz then reported on the CU’s diverse national and international activities in 2023 from the five fields of activity Technology, Internationalization, Network, Knowledge and Communication.

He also presented the highlights from the work in the clusters and specialist networks and the CU event calendar. In total, the CU organized around 100 events with around 4,500 participants last year. The association is once again planning a joint stand for its members at JEC World in Paris in March 2024, the meeting place for the composites industry. Dr. Tjark von Reden (CEO CU) reported on the current financial situation and presented the budget for the coming year, which was approved by the members.

Election of the Executive Committee: Commitment and diversity

The last and most important item on the agenda was the election of the new Executive Committee. With 13 candidates for eight positions, there was impressive commitment from the members who want to actively shape the CU community. The members elected the following to the Executive Committee:

The newly elected executive committee of Composites United e. V.
f.l.t.r.: Marc Fette, Steffen Kress, Dr. Gabriele Gärtner, Prof. Dr. Klaus Drechsler, Dr. Heike Illing-Günther, Dr. Hauke Lengsfeld, Dr. Gernot Kalkoffen, Prof. Dr. Jens Ridzewski

The newly elected Executive Committee then met for its constituent meeting and reappointed Prof. Drechsler as its spokesperson and co-opted seven further members to the Composites United e. V. Executive Committee: Holger Bär (Vice President at Olin International and General Manager EMEAI), Stefanie Brickwede (Managing Director at Mobility goes Additive e. V. and Head of Additive Manufacturing at Deutsche Bahn), Dr. Thiemo Erb (Professional Motorsport Lightweight Design at Porsche AG), Tobias Gerngross (Senior Manager Global Testing at Beyond Gravity), Matthias Kaben (Head of Manufacturing Engineering at Airbus Aerostructures GmbH), Robert Meier (Managing Director of Forward Engineering GmbH) and Matthias Wendt (owner of inno-focus businessconsulting GmbH).

Community is Key

Prof. Drechsler concluded the meeting with an appeal for more intensive discourse:

"There are many issues in our community that we want and need to tackle together. The Executive Committee and the offices need your input and ideas for this. In addition to the General Assembly, we have many other formats that lend themselves to a close exchange. Let's use all formats to stay in constant conversation so that the Executive Committee can speak for all CU members."

Speaker of the CU Presidium, Prof. Dr. Klaus Drechsler, introduces the election of the Presidium and then bids farewell to the guests

Next year, the association will celebrate its 20th anniversary at the General Assembly on November 26, 2023 in Stade, another milestone in the history of the CU.