It was mid of March and it had just snowed the week before when I arrived in a small german town called Oberkochen. It is nicely located within a valley surrounded by hills filled with trees and little river emerging from the rocks just some walking minutes to the south of the neighborhood. As I have studied in Jena, which is the birthplace of the company Zeiss, I do notice a certain ressemblance and one may imagine that the young Carl Zeiss maybe hiked through the small village of Oberkochen during his journeyman years before starting his little optical workshop in 1846 which later became one of the largest optical device manufacturer in the world.
So it certainly was the beginning of an interesting period within my PhD as I was visiting our industrial partner, the Carl Zeiss Meditec AG, at their headquarters for roughly three months. During this time I had the opportunity to work in the Department of Advanced Development to develop a first prototype of our newest approach to image 5-ALA induced protoporphyrin IX for neurosurgical guidance. Even though, I had already arrived with a plan in my mind, I was gratefull for the team spirit and support I was given by the staff. It helped me to fine-tune my system and stay focussed to achieve the best possible measurments. I also enjoyed to get in contact with other students working on their bachelor and master thesis and it sometimes felt like being in university-kind of environment. However, I was also able to follow the daily life in the medical device industry where not only scientific and technical but also clinical, regulatory and producibility aspects decide over the development of an idea or prototype to a product. It is this interdisciplinary approach and balancing of the requirements and needs between project leaders, developers, product and regulatory managers which I found fascinating and taught me that it is one step to publish a new scientific method, but it is a series of step till this may be part of a final product.
Interestingly, the young Carl Zeiss also visited Vienna in 1843 to work in the Mecca of mechanical engineering that the city was known for at the time and attend courses in mechanics. As I am finishing writing this post, sitting in my office back in Vienna, I do feel humble to have unconsciously followed his footsteps.
In this sense, I thank everyone involved for my interesting secondment in Oberkochen.