Interview with Prof. Dr.-Ing. Stephan Tremmel
What are your hobbies?
We engineers are always said to have only technology in mind. For me, culture, art – especially music and theater – as well as cooking are added to the mix. During the Corona pandemic, the first two hobbies unfortunately came a bit short. But I’m cooking even more passionately.
Where do you work and what’s your position?
I am Chair Professor of Engineering Design at University of Bayreuth, Germany.
How did you end up in the field of tribology?
Probably like most tribologists more by accident. I first came into contact with tribology as part of a student thesis on PVD coatings. Later, I got involved in rolling bearings and drive technology, where are a lot of tribological issues as well. Step by step, I realized how important tribology is in our world. To come back to my hobbies: Why does the scenery elevator squeak in the theater? Why does the string instrument sound? Why does the kitchen knife become blunt? It’s all tribology! – Maybe I always have technology in my head after all…
Do you have any favorite anecdote about the broad field of tribology?
I spontaneously remember a funny quote from an exam candidate. However, the pun only works in German: “Reibung und Verschleiß hängen gerne miteinander ab…“. Or maybe this one: Many years ago, one of my co-workers had a hard discussion with a student about how to properly calibrate the force on a tribometer. The student insisted on his opinion and so we let him do. After analyzing the measurement results, we were very impressed by the negative coefficients of friction and the young man was at his wits’ end. You can see, practice makes perfect!
If you had one wish with the “Young Tribologists”, what would you wish for?
I wish that the Young Tribologists continue to be so enthusiastic in advertising the fascination of tribology.
Which trends would you see in the field of tribology, especially which applications do you think would gain increasing importance in the future?
I am sure that the simulation of friction and wear as well as machine learning will become considerably more important. This enables reliable prediction of the operating behavior of all types of technical systems.
What do you think are the three most relevant competences for somebody working in the field of tribology?
Tribology is incredibly complex. You know the famous quote by Wolfgang Pauli: “The volume of the solid was created by God, but its surface was made by the devil.”? So, in my opinion, the three most important competencies are: an interdisciplinary mindset, the ability to meticulously discover relationships – and perseverance!