Viessmann Techathon 2018

What happens when a team of engineering students is given a 3 day challenge by Viessmann to solve a real world product need?

Viessmann prototyping staff and students discuss their ideas in the lab

Exciting new ideas to spark product innovation at Viessmann. 

The Viessmann Techathon 2018 was recently held over a 3 day period (Friday through Sunday) at the corporate headquarters in Allendorf, Germany. The “techathon” was created by Viessmann as an incubator event to tap the creativity and ingenuity of engineering and design students from local universities in Germany with the challenge of a real world product need and opportunity to tap the resources of Viessmann.

Multi-disciplinary departments that included R&D USA, Innovation Management Team and the Viessmann Prototyping Lab partnered to host the event for 23 students from nearby German universities. The students were grouped into 3 teams and competed to win prizes totalling 5,000€. The challenge was to create a product that makes the installation of a German boiler in a North American home faster, easier and less complicated while improving the energy efficiency and comfort for the homeowner. 

Lukas Loidol of Viessmann R&D USA explains the product development process to the student participants

Starting on Friday afternoon, the students met their teammates and were introduced to a typical North American (Viessmann) heating system. The challenge was explained as well as some requirements that their design had to fulfill. For the remainder of the night, the students worked within their team to develop a concept that they could build in the Prototype Lab with the assistance of the prototyping staff. When the sun rose on Saturday morning, the lab lit up with a flurry of activity. Sparks flew as ideas materialized into the first glimpse of the creative minds of the three teams. By the end of the day, three very distinct concepts and prototypes started to emerge, but there was still a mountain of work left to complete. Fortunately, much of the software and control development continued into the night as the students transitioned back to the Viessmann Academy Guesthouse. There, into the wee hours of the morning, the teams theorized, debated and solidified the software and functional foundation for their prototypes.

Sunday morning was period of inspired focus and dedication. Teams went right to work on completing their designs; even walking past the food truck serving breakfast. Facing a noon deadline, teammates pushed each other to finish while the staff of the prototype lab shared their expertise and energy alongside the students. Even the apprenticeship program participated, lending their electrical and electronics expertise to support the teams. At one point, there were employees from four separate departments within Viessmann all working and collaborating seamlessly to support the creativity expressed by the students in their concepts.

By the end of Sunday, all three teams presented extremely strong and unique concepts displayed in their prototypes. While in every competition, there can only be one winner; in the Viessmann Techathon 2018 there were no losers. The winning team demonstrated a well organized, well thought out, creative and functional prototype and took home 3,000€ as the first prize reward.

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