10 years of the Knowledge Factory

“NaWi – geht das?” (“Hey! How does that work?”) encourages schoolchildren to experiment and try things out. Voith supports schools at its various locations by providing teaching materials.


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10 years of the Knowledge Factory

Schoolchildren tackle the subject of energy with “Power4School.” A wind turbine was created at the Voith Training Center at headquarters in Heidenheim as part of the project.


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10 years of the Knowledge Factory

Dedicated active and retired Voith employees do their bit in the Knowledge Factory projects and, for example, train teachers in how to use the teaching materials.


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Companies, members of the scientific community, educational establishments and political institutions pursue a common goal with the Knowledge Factory: to enhance Germany’s future viability as a place to do business.

Many happy returns! – Voith congratulates the Knowledge Factory on its 10th birthday

Exactly ten years ago, Voith and eight other committed companies got together to found the registered association “Wissensfabrik – Unternehmen für Deutschland e.V.” (Knowledge Factory – Companies for Germany). The common objective was to enhance Germany’s future viability as a place to do business and to kindle a passion for technology and science among children and youngsters.

A success story with 120 members

We now know that January 26, 2005, marked a milestone. The Knowledge Factory is a success story: the network now comprises around 120 members. 180 start-ups have been assisted, 12,000 teachers trained and some 700,000 children reached thanks to numerous well-designed projects for schoolchildren, students and young entrepreneurs over the past ten years. “I’ve supervised and coordinated the Knowledge Factory project at Voith since the time preparations were underway to found it, so I’m especially delighted at the exceptionally positive progress the initiative has made. In the Knowledge Factory, companies like Voith, the scientific community, educational establishments and political institutions pull together and jointly develop approaches to solutions – with the common goal of making the next generation and so Germany fit to tackle global competition,” says Klaus-Günther Strack, Head of Corporate Development at Voith.

Further information on the knowledge factory

10 years of the Knowledge Factory – 10 years of commitment to education

“Voith is proud to be a co-founder and active partner of the Knowledge Factory and so be able to give a strong helping hand to make sure Germany remains a center of knowledge in the future. I’m delighted that many Voith employees devote their time and effort in a wide range of different projects so that the objective of the Knowledge Factory can be achieved. A big thank-you to everyone involved! We at Voith congratulate the Knowledge Factory on its anniversary and hope the initiative continues to have at least as much success in the coming years!”

Dr. Hubert Lienhard, President and CEO of Voith GmbH & Co. KGaA

Children experimenting with the “NaWi – geht das?” kit.

Two pillars: education and entrepreneurship

Education and entrepreneurship are the two pillars underpinning the Knowledge Factory, in which a total of more than ten projects are offered. One example is “NaWi – geht das?” (“Hey! How does that work?”), one of the first-ever Knowledge Factory projects. For this program, the association developed kits full of a large number of experiments that enable primary school children to experience, explore and grasp scientific and technical interrelationships.

Every schoolchild knows “NaWi – geht das?”

From developing new projects, communicating them to schools and other target groups to implementation of them – Voith has played an active part since the Knowledge Factory was founded. If you look at the company’s headquarters in Heidenheim and the surrounding region, you’ll hardly find any school kid who hasn’t experimented or built things with the Knowledge Factory’s “NaWi – geht das?” or the “KiTec” kit. And that is mainly down to the contribution made by Voith together with voluntary helpers. Up to now, the company has provided teaching materials as part of 28 education partnerships and trained over 200 teachers in how to use the Knowledge Factory projects. However, Voith is also strongly committed to promoting education outside Heidenheim and has held Knowledge Factory projects at other company locations in Germany, such as Crailsheim, Ravensburg and Krefeld.

The “NaWi – geht das?” kit – a treasure trove of exciting experiments that convey the fundamentals of science in a playful way.
Before the Knowledge Factory projects are integrated in lessons, teachers are first trained in how to use the materials.

Learning from your elders

Unlike the school projects in the field of education, the “entrepreneurship” segment is aimed at people who start up their own business and enrich the German economy with their clever business ideas. Experienced managers from Voith act as mentors. They are sparring partners for young entrepreneurs, who often have good business ideas, but no experience in building and managing a successful enterprise. The mentors are on hand to help them with valuable advice, often over a period of several months.

Things get technical with KiTec: Schoolchildren hammer and file away, as well as build things.

Projects in tune with the times

“As the Head of Training, I experience every day how youngsters make the transition from school to work and it’s not easy for many of them. The Knowledge Factory plugs a gap here by giving children a basic understanding of technology. That’s why I’ve played an active part in the Knowledge Factory for ten years, acting as a mediator between schools and the association and helping to develop new education projects.”

Erwin Krajewski, Head of Training at Voith

Schoolchildren constructed a wind turbine at the Voith Training Center in Heidenheim as part of Power4School.

One of the latest Knowledge Factory projects to be implemented is Power4School. With Power4School, the initiative takes up the forward-looking subject of energy and gives schoolchildren a basic understanding of it.

Erwin Krajewski, Head of Training at Voith, played a major part in developing the project – and Power4School was put into practice at the Werkgymnasium in Heidenheim in cooperation with Voith.

3 questions for …

One of the first schools to integrate Knowledge Factory projects in its lessons as part of an education partnership with Voith is the Bergschule in Heidenheim. Sabine Palinkas, principal of the primary school in Heidenheim, talks about her experience with the Knowledge Factory:

Why do you stage Knowledge Factory projects at your school?

Ms. Palinkas: The projects enable schoolchildren to explore, discover and experiment freely in the classroom. In our “People, Nature and Culture” lessons, for example, third graders sawed out Santa Claus figures and made rod puppets using their own imagination.

How do the projects go down with the children?

Ms. Palinkas: The children are always enthusiastic when they can do practical work with their own hands and using their own ideas. They go about their assignments with great resolve.

How important is support from companies like Voith?

Ms. Palinkas: Under the education partnership, Voith has provided us with material kits and training for teachers and we still receive free replacement material. Contact with industry is also important so as to direct attention to the requirements of working life at an early stage.

Commitment to the next generation

Voith supports various other education projects apart from the Knowledge Factory. One example of its longstanding commitment is the Business@School project of the Boston Consulting Group. Since 2003, volunteers from Voith have familiarized more than 500 schoolchildren with business challenges and concepts as part of the project.