OECHSLER cooperates with the Ansbach University of Applied Sciences

OECHSLER joined forces with the Ansbach University of Applied Sciences 18 months ago. Their latest joint project is OECHSLER's elective module "Medical device development according to the stage-gate process" at Ansbach University of Applied Sciences. Prof. Dr. Roland Schnurpfeil, Head of the Biomedical Engineering (BMT) degree program, tells us more about the past and current cooperation with OECHSLER and the vision that both partners share.

Prof. Schnurpfeil let's start where it all began. When exactly did OECHSLER and Ansbach University of Applied Sciences decide to enter a partnership?

Well, it started by chance in spring 2022, when I received a call from OECHSLER's Vice President Sales Healthcare, Felix Hess. One of my young students had completed an internship in sales and Mr. Hess wanted to know to what extent a thesis in this area would be possible. As my research interests in the medical technology field primarily lie in all topics relating to marketing, product management and sales, I naturally accepted immediately. Further phone calls and video conferences followed, and we realized that there was even more potential for both sides. In June 2022, we finally had our first "project meeting" with a larger group of people at OECHSLER. Since then, they have been able to supervise several bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in various departments at OECHSLER. Our first major joint project was the organization of a project semester as part of the master's degree program "International Product and Service Management". In the summer semester of 2022, 35 students from 16 nations worked in different groups to develop a medical product with the lowest possible CO2 footprint. As you can see, our partnership has quickly gained momentum and you are probably wondering what advantages Ansbach University and my course of study in particular will derive from it.

Indeed, what motivated you to enter into a collaboration with OECHSLER and the other way around?

Well, our Biomedical Engineering degree program was the first in Bavaria and is still one of the most innovative to this day. We can only achieve this if we constantly work on optimizing the course and the curriculum as well as adapting it to the requirements of society and, in particular, regional industry. With OECHSLER we have gained a globally renowned and innovative partner in the field of polymer technology, which has also become significantly more important in medical technology. And what can we offer? Young specialists who not only have a broad education in the field of medical technology, but also in project and quality management, product management and, last but not least, regulatory affairs.

We have just talked about the fact that OECHSLER and the Ansbach University of Applied Sciences have been working together for one and a half years. What does the current collaboration look like?

After the exciting project semester in the summer, we have now reached the "day-to-day operations" phase. We are supervising several final theses at bachelor's and master’s level, some students are doing their practical semester at OECHSLER, and I am at the company every two weeks or so for a coordination meeting. But there are already ideas for further activities!

Not to forget that OECHSLER is currently offering the new elective module "Medical device development according to the stage-gate procedure" at Ansbach University of Applied Sciences, how did this come about?

(laughs) At a meeting, I cheekily asked whether OECHSLER would be interested in a permanent presence at the university. The easiest way would be to set up an elective module. And since I had already been involved in the introduction of a stage-gate process at my last company, where I worked before joining Ansbach University, the topic was quickly identified. But then it was time to prepare - that took us more than four months. And as we are a state university, our project also had to be approved by the faculty council in order to be included in the curriculum. That was mainly my part.

What advantages do you see in the collaboration for both sides, especially with regard to offering such an elective module for your students?

After more than ten years at Ansbach University, I have noticed that young people often know what they want to do later in their lives, but not how and especially not where. As part of our cooperation, OECHSLER AG can present itself as an attractive and modern employer. We provide access to potential future specialists who are trained according to the latest science and technology and who are up to date with international standards. We want to constantly improve and develop our study program. Of course, it is ideal to have industry partners who offer students internships and dissertations. But if this partner is also one of the most innovative in the industry and is directly on site, the benefits are greatest for both sides. And with our new elective module, we give our students deep practical insights into the modern industrial environment even before the internship.

If you look back at what we have achieved so far, you have to admit that we have come a long way in a very short space of time. But of course, there are already other ongoing projects. For example, students have already registered for next year's elective course. What we have not yet tackled is the discussion of joint applied research projects, but here too I see potential in all degree courses in our Faculty of Engineering.

Prof. Dr. Roland Schnurpfeil
Head of the Biomedical Engineering (BMT) degree program

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