„The tension around the energy and mobility transition is also a core topic at ruhrvalley, which we are working on with all our resources.“

Interview with Professor Dr. Haydar Mecit, Endowed Professorship Stadtwerke Herne AG

For more than 14 years, Professor Dr. Haydar Mecit has been working on the topics of electromobility and infrastructures. Since 2019 he has held the professorship endowed by Stadtwerke Herne AG in the field of urban energy and mobility systems. In an interview with the ruhrvalley Management Office (MMO) he talks about future challenges in this area and about working in the transdisciplinary research and innovation network ruhrvalley.

ruhrvalley MMO: Please give us a brief outline of the path that brought you to ruhrvalley!

Mecit: I studied Media Informatics at the Westphalian University of Applied Sciences, back then a new programme, and at the end of my studies, I was working at the Fraunhofer Institute for Intelligent Analysis and Information Systems in Sankt Augustin. Around this time, I went to the USA for an internship for one semester. With my degree in informatics, a job advertisement for a new centre for innovation from thyssenkrupp Automotive AG caught my eye. As trainee for innovation management, I dealt mainly with the automotive branch as well as with mobility and transport infrastructures as a whole. During this time, I spent a few months in Japan to learn more about the Japanese automotive and robotic innovations and their research landscape. Until 2017, I went through several stations at thyssenkrupp, changing among topics such as research and development in the automotive and industrial sectors, corporate foresight and corporate strategy, and product and marketing strategy.

Professor Dr. Haydar Mecit

From the end of 2010 until beginning of 2013, I took advantage of a company scholarship to take a sabbatical for my doctoral studies at Duisburg-Essen University. I wrote my dissertation at the Faculty for Engineering and was mentored in an interdisciplinary fashion by the chairs of economic and organisational psychology, and production technologies and product development. At the time I also took over some courses in industrial engineering at Münster University of Applied Sciences. From 2013 to 2017 I worked on my dissertation as well as on my job, and in 2018, I added a third “scientific” child to my progeny called “Debiasing decision-making behaviour in technology industries, with electromobility as a case example.”

My last job positions were Senior Expert R&D E-Mobility and Manager Sales International E-Mobility at innogy in Essen and Dortmund.

ruhrvalley MMO: You have been working for a long time in the field of urban energy and e-mobility. What is the thing you find most appealing?

Mecit: As in my other jobs, I have always been especially interested in electromobility and the transformation of the energy sector it requires. It is not just about electric cars, but all sorts of vehicles, all the way down to micromobility, for example, e-bicycles end e-scooters. Electrification and the potential of batteries and electric motors are changing what we knew about mobility. Apart from that, renewable energies such as wind or solar are changing the whole energy sector. The energy grid as we know it is also going to change thanks to new energy storage systems and digital control methods. For those reasons, I am passionate about research and development projects, as well as international partnerships in the areas of e-mobility, smart grids and charging infrastructure, and also the development of new products and services for future business models involving smart mobility, smart energy and smart cities based on IT platforms, sensors, mobile devices and apps.

ruhrvalley MMO: What does your typical workday at ruhrvalley look like?

Mecit: Besides teaching in the area of new energy and mobility systems for urban spaces at Bochum University of Applied Sciences, I am often in the city of Herne meeting different project partners. They include the Stadtwerke Herne AG, the Herne public transport company HCR GmbH, Herne’s business development agency, Herne City Hall and units of the municipal administration. We discuss about ongoing and new projects within the context of the endowed professorship or ruhrvalley. My core areas in this regard anre research and development projects in the area of smart city, where I especially deal with new, digital, interconnected systems for new energy supply and mobility concepts. An example of this would be the use of photovoltaic systems in combination with stationary batteries for storage and transfer to, for example, private households including electric cars.

ruhrvalley MMO: What makes ruhrvalley so especial for your work?

Mecit: The ruhrvalley Management Office supports me with advice and assistance in things related to research grant applications. Furthermore, they organise meetings with other scientists from our partner universities as well as especial events, such as the ruhrvalley Convention. All these activities help shape the interdisciplinary research work at ruhrvalley in a sustainable way and they are a great help for my colleagues and me in the research network. The central location in Herne, between Gelsenkirchen, Bochum and Dortmund is extremely fortunate, and for that, we are very grateful.

ruhrvalley MMO: Where do you see the biggest challenges for urban energy and mobility and how can they be solved?

Mecit: The electrification and digitalisation of the mobility sector runs parallel to an upheaval in the energy sector, and in light of the intense discussions about climate change, it is not only going to be the global concerns and established tech giants calling the shots on these topics, but also the start-ups. Some of them, for example, have been initiated by university graduates and been spun-off from the universities themselves.

The tension around the so-called energy and mobility transition is also a core topic at Bochum University of Applied Sciences and ruhrvalley, which we are working on with all our resources. In my area of expertise, we are pressing ahead with the development and testing of new, integrated and sustainable solutions, based mostly on digitalisation and interconnection, which use data from the most diverse sensors and emitters. In the process, we pursue the common objectives of resource conservation, CO2 and emissions reduction, and climate protections using new, urban energy and mobility systems. This can be realised when R&D projects are carried out for real life needs, and with the participation of all concerned sectors and actors in urban areas. In this context, the so-called smart-city solutions are also a topic, and in this my focus lies on the topics of smart mobility and smart energy. My students alike to say, that the word “smart” can be understood as “digitalised and interconnected.”

In this context, I see as a vital task the study of the effects of new integration possibilities, defined by smart city hardware and software solutions in combination with IT platforms and ecosystems as well as mobile applications. In the process, I not only want to observe new technologies for sustainable and low-emissions mobility, but also study their use and effects in real life, together with project partners at Bochum University of Applied Sciences and ruhrvalley. This is a critical step in order to tackle the challenges that lie before us. In the course of this, I consider the interdisciplinary research network at ruhrvalley to be a decisive advantage and I am definitely looking forward to the cooperation in the next years.