Alumni Portrait: Dr.-Ing. Martin Frönd - The Troubleshooter

2020-09-28 The engineer was the first doctoral student at Leuphana to graduate with the newly introduced degree of Dr.-Ing. During his doctorate, he developed an innovative manufacturing process in the field of 3D printing to produce metallic structures.

Martin Frönd is thus the first doctoral student at Leuphana to receive the Dr.-Ing. degree in engineering. ©Leuphana
Martin Frönd is thus the first doctoral student at Leuphana to receive the Dr.-Ing. degree in engineering.

Even when he was still at school, Martin Frönd knew how beneficial technical understanding is: the engineer grew up in Lower Saxony's Wendland region. Whenever his moped was broken, he had to fix it - or walk. "I would often repair it together with my father," the 29-year-old recalls. It was this kind of sense of achievement, of solving problems in an application-oriented manner, which shaped his choice of career: "In physics and mathematics, there is always only one solution behind an equation. Clear answers suit me." In 2011 he therefore applied to study engineering sciences at Leuphana. The programme fulfilled his expectations, while also being challenging: "But I enjoyed the content so much that I passed the exams quite well," remembers Martin Frönd. Back then, the student did not yet see himself in research: "Good preparation for employment in an industrial production company was important to me. Since I believe that this also includes a strong awareness of the sustainable design of successful business processes, I chose business studies as a minor".

His plans to enter industry quickly changed for the time being when he took up his subsequent Master's programme in "Management and Engineering": Dr.-Ing. Benjamin Klusemann, Professor of Local Engineering, in particular Process Simulation and holder of a shared professorship with the Helmholtz Centre Geesthacht (HZG), had just been appointed to Leuphana. Martin Frönd was extremely interested in his lecture: "Professor Klusemann went very deeply into the technical background, but was able to convey it very clearly". The student asked whether he could write his Master's thesis with the scientist. Benjamin Klusemann agreed, provided the student's module grade was good enough - it was. Benjamin Klusemann is also head of department at the Institute for Materials Research at the HZG, where he invited Martin Frönd for an interview for an experimental thesis. "Cooperation with the HZG is a great asset to Leuphana's research activities. I was able to work there independently with an industrial high-power laser during my master's thesis, and I was also able to examine the processed titanium components in very well-equipped laboratories. Laser beam welding is a common procedure in modern manufacturing technology, as it is a fast and effective process that can be easily automated. However, high residual stress values and component deformations often occur during the laser welding process, and these should be experimentally investigated and reduced as part of my master's thesis," explains Martin Frönd.

In his doctoral thesis he dealt with laser material processing of aluminium. "A material that is of great industrial interest, but also poses major processing challenges," Martin Frönd describes. "The research question of my doctoral thesis was motivated by the fact that although laser-based 3D printing of aluminium seemed very attractive from an industrial point of view, this material has an immense laser beam reflection of more than 95 percent. This meant that laser-based 3D printing of large aluminium structures was hardly feasible, either technically or economically". It was a problem that the young scientist solved in an application-oriented way in his doctoral thesis, as a result of which he received research prizes for two of his publications from Leuphana University. "At the beginning of the doctorate, a joke prevailed among the doctoral students: For every letter of the Dr.-Ing. you need one year. But the supervision was excellent and the support from family, partner and friends as well, so that I was able to complete my doctorate much earlier," reflects the former research assistant gratefully. He published several scientific articles and submitted his dissertation after just less than three years. Martin Frönd is thus the first doctoral student at Leuphana to graduate with a Dr.-Ing. in engineering sciences. The title is only awarded in Germany and is regarded worldwide as a trademark for German engineering. Martin Frönd is proud of his Dr.-Ing. degree: "We are engineers. That may also be mentioned in the title."

The job of his dreams followed swiftly: "Today, I work as deputy quality manager for an internationally established tapered roller bearing manufacturer. The transition to the industry was smooth and I enjoy the daily tasks immensely. Everything I learned in my studies and doctorate comes together here: With my team, I analyse different problems every day and develop effective technical solutions. In addition, at some points interdisciplinary skills are required to evaluate existing structures and adapt them if necessary. Especially when working in science, I have learned to think innovatively and to abandon the status quo when it is no longer sufficient. The management studies at Leuphana have also given me a very good foundation for dealing with strategic issues," Martin Frönd describes.