Wiedeking: “Interest in the sciences has to be awakened early on”233 Ferry Porsche Prizewinners receive their awards in the Weissach Development Center
Stuttgart. Yesterday evening, Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG, Stuttgart, and the Baden-Württemberg Ministry for Culture, Youth and Sport honored the 233 winners of the Ferry Porsche Prize 2007 at the Weissach Development Center. This prize is awarded to the top school leavers in mathematics and physics/technology at the general and vocational high schools. With this prize, the Stuttgart sports car manufacturer and the Ministry for Culture want to make their contribution towards increasing the appeal of scientific and technical subjects at high schools in the state of Baden-Württemberg.
In his speech Dr. Wendelin Wiedeking, President and CEO of Porsche AG, emphasized that there was an urgent need to boost the numbers of highly qualified younger generation engineers in Germany, if this high tech location, which is among the foremost in the world both in the automotive industry and in other sectors, is to be prevented from getting out of touch in the near future. “We have to stimulate our children’s interest in scientific problems at pre-school age. We need science education that is practically oriented, colorful and exciting – why not from kindergarten onwards? ”, said the Porsche manager and referred to a survey carried out at Bielefeld University, in which every fourth scientist questioned stated that his or her interest in the subject had already been awaked in early childhood.
The ongoing shortage of engineers in Germany, said Wiedeking, was becoming an increasingly great barrier to innovation, particularly for small and medium sized firms. In Baden-Württemberg alone, he continued, there is a shortfall of 15,000 engineers. In many enterprises, lucrative ordersare being lost to competitors in other countries, due to the lack of qualified personnel. “And this despite the fact that Germany has excellent universities which produce first class engineers and even Nobel Prize Winners”, the Porsche Head stated.
Baden-Württemberg’s Minister of Culture, Helmut Rau, also underlined the importance of the sciences for the competitiveness of German industry. “We need qualified, motivated engineers and scientists who will secure the future of our country with their ideas and inventions”, the Minister of Culture emphasized. The foundations for this are laid in the schools, said Rau, and referred to the introduction of a new subject “Science and Technology” (NwT) in the high schools, which has further strengthened the position of the sciences. “The purpose of NwT is to give children an appetite for research and discovery by plenty of experiments and a consistent ‘applied’ orientation. By making the lessons exciting, we want to awaken young people’s enthusiasm for studying science or engineering at university,” the Minister said.
The Ferry Porsche Prize, named for the Porsche-Sportwagen company founder who died in 1998, has been awarded annually since 2001. This year, too, Dr. Wolfgang Porsche, Ferry Porsche’s youngest son and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Porsche Automobil Holding SE, spoke personally to the prizewinners. He reminded them of the founding of the engineering office in 1931 by his grandfather Ferdinand Porsche in Stuttgart, where in the 1930s he designed – alongside the Auto Union racing cars – the VW “Beetle”, perhaps the most famous automobile in the world.
It was Wolfgang’s father Ferry who first built a sports car. This was the Type 356 in 1948, a sports car which officially bore the name of Porsche. With the serial production of these vehicles, Ferry Porsche laid the foundation for the sports car factory of today. “Right up to his death in 1998, my father exerted a decisive influence on the success of the enterprise – first as owner, managing director and head developer, then as Chairman of the Supervisory Board, and later as an experienced advisor”, said Dr. Porsche, paying tribute to the life’s work of his father.
Once again, the highlight of the festivities in Weissach was the awarding of ten scholarships for traineeships abroad. The lucky winners are Tobias Beer (Friedrich-Schiller-Gymnasium Pfullingen), Maria Bruno (Rechberg-Gymnasium Donzdorf), Tobias Fissler (Friedrich-List-
Gymnasium Asperg), Sandra Hub (Hohenlohe-Gymnasium Öhringen), André Junker (Hebel-Gymnasium Schwetzingen), Merlin Morlock (Friedrich-Eugens-Gymnasium Stuttgart), Jens-Uwe Reitinger (Staufer-Gymnasium Pfullendorf), Lorenz Schmidt (Gymnasium Ebingen Albstadt), Steffen Strebel (Justinus-Kerner-Gymnasium Weinsberg) und Florian Weiser (Wilhelmi-Gymnasium Sinsheim). The winners have the chance to join one of the sports car manufacturer’s sales subsidiaries abroad for a four-week internship in the summer of 2008.