Honor for the founder of the "School of Control Engineering" Prof. Karl Reinisch

August 21, 2021 marked the 100th anniversary of the birth of Prof. em. Dr.-Ing. habil. Dr. E.h. Karl Reinisch for the 100th time. To mark this occasion, the Department of Computer Science and Automation (IA) invited guests to an honorary event on August 22 to commemorate the founder of the internationally renowned "Control Engineering School" and thus a key co-founder of today's faculty.

Professor Karl Reinisch

For the honorary event for Professor Reinisch, companions, former students and current professors and staff of the Department IA came together in the Helmholtz Auditorium of the TU Ilmenau.

After the welcome by the current President of TU Ilmenau, Professor Kai-Uwe Sattler, Professor Horst Puta, who had taken over the leadership of the research group "System Optimization" from Prof. Reinisch in 1986, paid tribute to Prof. Reinisch's pioneering achievements and high merits in the development of research and teaching in the field of automation and systems engineering.

After World War II, Karl Reinisch had studied electrical engineering at the then TU Dresden, where in 1953 his teacher, Prof. Georg Mierdel, had encouraged him to work in the then new field of control science. Karl Reinisch wrote the first dissertation in the field of control engineering in the former GDR.

Future-oriented system approach

In 1960, he was appointed to the then Hochschule für Elektrotechnik Ilmenau, where he established the Institute of Control Engineering, expanded it to the Institute of Automatic Control Systems and headed it until his retirement in 1986. From the beginning, Karl Reinisch was concerned with linking control engineering with modeling and optimization to the holistic control design of technical cybernetics. From this future-oriented approach, strategies for hierarchical and multi-objective optimization, especially for the management of water management systems and for the climate control of greenhouses, were developed and applied with remarkable success under his leadership. Teaching and research in this field was consolidated with the professorship "Dynamics and Simulation of Ecological Systems", to which Professor Horst Puta was appointed in 1992 at the newly founded Department of Computer Science and Automation.

Architect of the present Faculty of Computer Science and Automation

Prof. Reinisch also used his farsightedness in the university reform of 1968, in the course of which he merged the four, partially newly profiled institutes of Control Engineering, Computer Engineering, General and Optical Measurement Engineering, and Electromedical and Radiological Engineering of various faculties to form the Section for Technical and Biomedical Cybernetics (TBK). He thus created an organisational structural unit in which the systems sciences, which were also forming internationally, could develop. Even today, the ideas of that time are reflected in the structure of the Department IA and its study programmes with the Institutes of Automation and Systems Engineering, Biomedical Engineering and Cybernetics and in the links with the Computer Science Institutes.

Responsibility in the renewal process

As an outstanding scientific personality and due to his personal integrity, Professor Reinisch was again in demand when it came to the internal evaluation and structural transformations of the TH Ilmenau after the political change. From 1990 to 1992, as a member of two expert commissions and as a representative of the TH Ilmenau in the State Structure Commission, he contributed to the fact that new development possibilities were offered to the present Technical University, but also that historically grown strengths were preserved. After a strong expansion of the Computer Science Department, Karl Reinisch's ideas also shaped today's Faculty of Computer Science and Automation. He continued to lecture at the Institute of Automation and Systems Engineering until 1996. On January 24, 2007 Karl Reinisch passed away at the age of 85.

Bridge builder across borders

His daughter Dr. Andrea Trabert, a graduate of the Ilmenau Technical University, described Karl Reinisch's work from his family's point of view:

His heartfelt concern has always been to build bridges across all scientific, political and religious boundaries and to conduct an interdisciplinary dialogue in order to provide an ethical framework for research and to contribute to an understanding that ensures peace.

The lecture program was rounded off by the committed lecture of Dr. Rüdiger Franke, Team Leader Process Optimization Technology of ABB AG, Power Technology Systems Mannheim, on the highly topical subject: "Model-based control of present and future energy systems". Rüdiger Franke had already turned to the Ilmenau Cybernetics School as a student of electrical engineering and after his excellent graduation completed his doctorate under Professor Horst Puta.

The honorary event ended with a round of talks in the foyer of the Zuse building, now the main building of Faculty IA, in which the participants exchanged views on their life paths, experiences and current developments in teaching and research in the field of automation and systems engineering.

Impressions from the ceremony