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Follow-up report on the symposium: »What we need to know about the smart city«

HFT Stuttgart students inquire career paths to a new job profile with industry experts

»Smart City« is novel and the efforts to digitize are contested. There is no precise job description for smart city experts. Developing the »smart city« is a collaborative, multi-disciplinary task. How to steer their efforts and contribute meaningfully was the topic of a full-day symposium at HFT Stuttgart with six experts from three countries.

»Smart City« is the intention to make cities and regions more sustainable and liveable through smart digitization of processes, entrepreneurship, and social inclusion. Digitization of cities and regions is represented as a subfield in a wide variety of disciplines. This diversity of topics is also reflected in the curriculum of the international master programme Smart City Solutions, which is being taught at HFT Stuttgart since 2019. Students of the programme discuss and analyse solutions for buildings, neighbourhoods and cities and propose them for case studies. Of interest are technical but also entrepreneurial and organizational solutions that prevent or mitigate climate change and increase the quality of life for all. The focus is on cities worldwide. Topics are transportation and energy, urban development and planning, governance and finance, construction and architecture as well as data platforms. For the sake of a breadth of content, the curriculum has be taught in a cursory manner over its three-semester duration. With the master thesis, students focus on and deepen one of the eight smart city fields and explore its interfaces.

During their studies, students repeatedly ask the following questions: Which subject area suits me? How can I position myself with this topic on the job market? What fields of employment exist and what do delivery scopes look like? Who are potential employers? The question of all questions: How can I contribute to making cities more sustainable and liveable?

With the symposium, the Master Programme Smart City Solutions was able to offer an overarching format to all students from HFT Stuttgart in which they could inquire the variety of answers that does justice to the multidisciplinary nature of the topic within a single day. Six experts from six subject areas and three countries answered their questions:

  • Prof. (em) Roland Dieterle, Founder and Principal of spacial solutions, emeritus professor and founder of the Master Programme Smart City Solutions, Munich
  • Dr. Sebastian Seelig, Partner / Cities Consulting, Büro Happold, Berlin
  • Ana Ruiz Bowen, Programme Director, Master Smart & Resilient Cities, Junia HEI Lille, France
  • Mag. Andrea Geyer-Scholz, Principal at Smart Cities Consulting (Regional Innovation Frameworks on Climate Change and Decarbonization Tools and Services), Vienna, Austria
  • Max Rudolph M.Sc., Co-Founder of Form Follows You - Smart City & Urban Tech, Berlin
  • Marcel Özer M.Sc., Head of EPEA Real Estate and Expert for Cradle2Cradle in building and construction, Stuttgart

During two preparatory meetings, students collected their questions in advance and clustered them into twelve topics. In addition to questions on the value of certain skills on the job market and on paths to self-employment, topics of concern were technology integration and how to tap into the new smart city market. Stakeholder management, leadership and communication were of particular interest to students as well. Among the sustainability topics, paths to achieving circular economy, dealing with architectural and spatial scales, and synergies between Smart City topic areas were on the cards. Comparatively little was asked about new trends, ethical aspects of collecting and analysing citizen data, e.g. in digital twins of cities and neighbourhoods.

The feedback from students and experts was overwhelmingly positive and it was suggested to repeat the same format next semester.

The Symposium »What we need to know about the smart city« held on November 25, 2022 was conceptualised as a one-time event of the HFT Stuttgart under the direction of the Vice-President (Study and Teaching) Prof. Dr.-Ing. Lutz Gaspers and SkiLL, designed and supervised by Prof. Dr. Iris Belle. The symposium was funded by the Federal State of Baden-Württemberg, MWK (Ministry of Science, Research and Art) within the programme to mitigate learning gaps originating from the pandemic.

Publish date: 13. December 2022