My central concern is to awaken and strengthen the fascination for technology in young people.

Patronage member: Barbara Frei

Interview with Barbara Frei, EVP Industrial Automation at Schneider Electric

Engineers make an important contribution to the challenges of our time -- and it's very exciting when we tell it like it is. (Image above: Barbara Frei)

The answers from Barbara Frei, Executive Vice President Industrial Automation, Schneider Electric:

When and in what context did you first hear about Engineers' Day (then Engineers' Day)?

I first heard about it through Daniel Löhr. That was in the fall of 2019.

You have made yourself prominently available as a patron member. Why are you involved in this event?

Engineers make an important contribution to the challenges of our time -- and it's very exciting when we tell it like it is. It is important to me that we awaken and strengthen young people's fascination for technology. Being part of the solution on a larger scale means: having an influence and driving developments forward. This is exactly what we do in mechanical engineering, electrical and process engineering, robotics and as civil or industrial engineers. Making visible these many facets that the title "engineer" encompasses is also an important mission of Engineer's Day!

What goal or goals would you highlight as the most important priority in terms of your involvement in Engineers' Day or everyday life?

Visibility and dialogue. The career fields of engineers are very diverse. As diverse as the talent we need: The creative ones who create something new and solve problems. Those who like to design and want to understand every detail. And also those who enjoy analyzing processes and making them more efficient. I think we really need to tell more stories that make our professions and their connection to creativity, problem solving and efficiency more tangible. That's another reason I welcome Engineer's Day!

Why do you think engineers and their achievements are under-appreciated in everyday life, and what can engineers do about it?

Sometimes I think there's a stigma attached to the title "engineer" - it might sound a bit old-fashioned. Just not as cool as other professions. Is there a series with a female engineer who saves the world? "Q" from the James Bond movies comes to mind, though. He heads the fictional research and development department of MI6, and interestingly enough -- as the younger Q in the recent films -- is an excellent programmer and computer expert. I'm sure he's an engineer!

If you had one wish to be able to influence the promotion of young talent even more to whom would it go and what would that wish be?

My fascination with the subject of energy efficiency was actually sparked at school - and this interest later led me to study mechanical engineering. In this respect, I would like us to start promoting young talent much earlier: The challenges of our time - think of climate change - can be frightening for young people, technical innovations incomprehensible. My wish is that fascination with technology is awakened as early as possible, strengthened and developed in a stable manner until they choose a career.

Do you have another wish in connection with Engineers' Day?

I would like to see a great openness to the ways of thinking, experiences and talents of the younger generation. At universities and especially in companies.  

Which future challenge(s) do you see as the most significant, for which we urgently need more engineers?

Global warming, climate change and achieving CO2 neutrality are essential issues of our time. They play an overriding role in the political, social and corporate context. In particular, the high and in part inefficient energy consumption and CO2 emissions in the areas of industry, buildings and mobility present us with major challenges. To master them, we need well-trained engineers.

Thank you very much for this interview.

Further information about Schneider Electric: www.se.com


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