Professor Karl Reinisch


Prof. Karl Reinisch taught and researched at the Technical University of Ilmenau from 1959 to 1986. He established the Institute of Control Engineering, later Automatic Control Systems, and headed it until 1986. In 1968 he founded the Section for Technical and Biomedical Cybernetics and was its first director until 1971.

He was one of the leading scientists of the GDR and is regarded as the founder of a highly esteemed systems engineering "school of control engineering". Karl Reinisch was particularly inspired by the development of methods of modelling and optimisation for holistic system design. Under his leadership, strategies for hierarchical and multi-criteria optimization could be developed and applied with remarkable success, especially for the management of water management systems and for climate control in greenhouses.

His diversity of ideas and his courage to "touch new problems" in the sense of Norbert Wiener, the father of cybernetics, have helped our institute to achieve national and international recognition.

Farewell to Professor Karl Reinisch


The TU Ilmenau mourns the death of Prof. em. Dr.-Ing. habil. Dr. E.h. Karl Reinisch, who died on 24 January 2007 at the age of 85 after a long and serious illness. The members of the Technical University and especially the Faculty of Computer Science and Automation will keep a dignified memory of him.

With Prof. em. Dr.-Ing. habil. Dr. E.h. Karl Reinisch, an outstanding scientist and university lecturer has passed away. Professional competence and humanity were characteristic of Karl Reinisch, a prominent scientist from Ilmenau with charisma. On this occasion, we feel the need to remember his work and achievements at the Technical University of Ilmenau.

He studied electrical engineering at the newly opened Dresden University of Technology and met people who had a strong influence on his own life: e.g. the famous Barkhausen, to whom he owed the fascination that a remarkable university teacher can convey. In 1953, another well-known Dresden teacher, Prof. Mierdel, advised him to study the regulatory sciences. This resulted in the first dissertation in the field of control engineering in the former GDR, which Karl Reinisch defended in 1957 with the topic "Zur Strukturoptimierung linearer stetiger Regelkreise" (For structural optimization of linear continuous control loops) under Prof. Kindler. Three years later he followed a call to Ilmenau. On the occasion of his 80th birthday, Karl Reinisch wrote the following in a personal paper in memory of his time in Ilmenau: "The university management at that time (Rector Prof. Stamm) and the Faculty of Low Current Engineering gave me the opportunity to develop the new field of control engineering (which, as a closed theory, had essentially only emerged during the war) in teaching and research according to my ideas from 1960 onwards. The first employees were hardly prepared for this field, but were efficient and highly motivated. The beginning was a wonderful pioneering period.

Despite his great interest in basic research, he was also interested in practice-oriented training. In 1965, for example, he and his employees completed their first industrial internship as part of a diploma course of study at the Schwedt oil processing plant, which was later made compulsory in the curriculum of the entire electrical engineering department. Karl Reinisch used the opportunities offered by the 1968 university reform with foresight to merge the four, in part newly profiled institutes: Control Engineering, Mechanical Computing, General and Optical Metrology, and Electromedical and Radiological Engineering of various faculties into the Section for Technical and Biomedical Cybernetics (TBK). It was considered a novelty for universities at that time that an organisational structural unit had been created in which the systems sciences, which were also forming internationally, could develop. He was the first director of this TBK section for three years. By the way, after the strong expansion of computer science, this idea also characterizes today's Faculty of Computer Science and Automation.

A main focus of the work of his Institute of Automatic Control in the 1970s and 1980s, of which he was head until his retirement in 1986, was the optimal management of complex processes in decentralized, especially hierarchical structures with applications in water management and agriculture. Through this work he achieved international recognition, which was expressed, among other things, by the fact that Prof. Reinisch was appointed to responsible positions in the IFAC (International Federation of Automatic Control), which he held for more than 15 years. Thus he received the assignment to organize the IFAC symposium "Theory and Application of Complex Control Systems" in 1989 with his colleagues.

But what you can't capture with numbers, impressive as they are, is what we particularly appreciate in our former boss and colleague, and why we feel committed to him and his work: Karl Reinisch, the idea giver, stands for a "School of Technical Cybernetics/Systems Engineering" in teaching and research alike. Particularly for control processes in water management and plant growth, holistic system solutions that include the inner dynamics have been developed and successfully applied. Subjects such as data and process analysis, modelling, simulation of dynamic systems, parameter and structural optimisation have shaped the system-oriented education. For this he and his team also received the highest state awards.

With his retirement, Prof. Reinisch was awarded the title of "Outstanding University Lecturer". At the end of 1989 Karl Reinisch was again in demand when it came to internal evaluation and structural transformations. In the period from 1990 to 1992, as a member of two expert commissions and as a representative of the Technical University of Ilmenau in the state structural commission, he was able to contribute to the fact that new development opportunities were offered to today's Technical University, but also that historically grown strengths could be preserved. He continued to give lectures in our Institute for Automation and Systems Engineering until 1996.

We, the professors and staff of the institute have learned a lot from our teacher, Prof. Karl Reinisch, and we are also proud to have written the history of his and our institute in his spirit.