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Interview: Katrin Friedl

08/19/2019 |

Katrin Friedl works at the Institute of Electrical Power Systems and is a lecturer in the degree programme Electrical Engineering. She feels equally at home behind a computer, in the lab or directly on site of an electrical system.

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Please describe your field of work in a few sentences.

Katrin Friedl: I deal with questions of how electrical systems affect their environment. I am interested in the effects of earthing systems and the electric and magnetic fields of overhead lines or electrical substations, as well as the protective measures in low-voltage systems that protect people from dangerous electric current.

In your opinion, what makes electrical engineering special, and what excites you in your field of work?

Katrin Friedl: Electrical engineering combines much that fascinates me. We work on computer simulations, think up theoretical models, conduct tests in the laboratory and work directly in the systems. I find it very impressive to stand in front of a transformer or other large device in a substation, which ultimately works smoothly because many people have been thinking about how they can keep on improving the system. Due to technical progress, there are always new challenges for us, such as those of volatile wind or solar power plants. They always provide new challenges in grid operation, which we meet with our ideas.

What do you want to convey to your students?

Katrin Friedl: For me, it is important to impart basic knowledge and to teach independent thinking. Basically, my students should learn to come up with complex solutions themselves. In my opinion, this is a priceless skill for their future professional life.

In which specific areas are your former students working today?

Katrin Friedl: Graduates who specialise in electrical power systems and grids now work for energy supply companies, government agencies, engineering firms, equipment manufacturers or non-university research institutes such as the Austrian Institute of Technology – AIT. Some of them also start an academic career in research and teaching at the university.

How did you first come into contact with TU Graz?

Katrin Friedl: My first time was during my diploma programme at the TU Vienna, as part of a course on high-voltage engineering, because the laboratory in Vienna was not available. After graduation, I went to work in the industry dealing with overhead lines and network planning. After this, I wanted to do more specialised work professionally, and was at a convenient point for this in my private life. One thing led to another and I started as a doctoral candidate and university assistant at TU Graz. Following on from this, I worked for Austrian Power Grid AG and became Managing Director of the Elektroschutz Foundation (ESF Vienna), which aims to make the use of electricity even safer with the help of science. Since the beginning of 2019, I have a tenure track position at TU Graz.

What do you like most about TU Graz and Graz?

Katrin Friedl: The university environment is very special from my perspective: I get to interact with young people and can teach them something, while most of my work back when I was still working in the industry involved mainly technical and organisational tasks. I like to do research and teaching and to immerse myself in topics, and there is simply more time to do things at university than there is in industry. At TU Graz, I feel a great working atmosphere and sense of community. We all want to do well in both research and teaching here, so we all pull together. You can sense this physically at TU Graz – I feel really comfortable here. And Graz is a great city to live in, especially as a family.

How do you spend your time outside of classes?

Katrin Friedl: That time belongs to my husband and my two children. Together, we enjoy the leisure opportunities and the quality of life in Graz. And if I have time, I do sports and meet with friends.

Information

Studying electrical engineering at TU Graz:
Bachelor’s Degree Programme Electrical Engineering
Bachelor’s Degree Programme Electrical Engineering and Audio Engineering

More about research and teaching at the Institute of Electrical Power Systems.

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Advice and tips for the start of studies (in German)
Living and studying in Graz
Booklet for new students