Jobs with a future Fascinated by e-mobility

Mechatronics engineer Mathias Döring develops bespoke electric motors.

Mathias Döring is working on the future of the automobile. “I simply cannot imagine how we could meet CO₂ targets without the widespread use of electric motors,” he says. The 31-year-old specialist completed his Engineering IT degree back in 2008 – a combination of electronics, mechanical engineering and computer science – and was immediately recruited by ZF in Schweinfurt. Having spent a number of internships there, he already knew the company. And he knew what they were working on at the plant – and was very interested.

Okay, so the name of his department sounds a bit cumbersome: “Electric Motor Design, Systems Development”. The team’s actual work – on optimized combinations of software, control systems, power electronics, electric motors and batteries – is much more exciting. But for outsiders, a single word is enough to convey the true reasons for Döring’s fascination in this work: electromobility.

Ever more sophisticated propulsion systems

Does the real thing match up to Döring’s simulation once it’s on the test bench? Deviations are rare, says the engineer proudly.

The auto industry’s requirements for future propulsion systems are becoming increasingly sophisticated – and complex. If the company doesn’t have the right motor to meet a customer’s specific needs, then the inquiry is forwarded to ZF experts like Mathias Döring.

The mechatronics engineer starts by finding out whether any preparatory work has already been done, so “whether we already have a suitable stator lamination, that is, a geometric motor design”. If that’s not the case, development must start from scratch, meaning the computers in his department are soon sizzling. “In actual fact, I sit in front of my computer all day, running one simulation after another,” says Döring. Test-bench work is also dominated by computers. Almost all communications with other ZF experts take place virtually – he regularly confers with power electronics specialists in Auerbach and Friedrichshafen.

Video: For Mathias Döring, developing electric motors is his dream job. Here he tells us exactly what he does.

High tension on the test bench!

Modelling is an important part of the development work. “That was already a major topic while I was still a student,” says Döring: “mapping and simulating technical systems and transfer functions as models.” When designing a motor, Döring needs three to four weeks of concentrated work in front of his screen to take the design from initial concept to final mapping. “Mapping motor characteristics, simulating cycles – without powerful computer workstations I can’t imagine how we’d do our work,” he says. Older colleagues have told him how, in the days before widespread computer use, they had to rely on gut instinct and years of experience, all carefully recorded and archived in countless ring binders.

Once the modelling phase has been completed, it’s time for the Design/Engineering specialists to get involved. In total, from receipt of order to finished prototype, it takes at least nine months to develop a new electric motor. Eleven specialists work in the team, most of them the same age as Döring. They all get excited when the prototype motor finally makes it onto the test bench and they start measuring its performance figures. Will it deliver what the customer wants? As a rule, yes, says Döring with the pride of a true engineer: “It’s very rare for test-bench results to deviate from our simulations.”

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