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Ernst-Blickle Award 2023 presented to Prof. Dr. Hermann J. Stadtfeld

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May 23,2024


Prof. Dr. Hermann J. Stadtfeld, vice president of the Gleason Corporation in Rochester, New York, has been presented with the Ernst-Blickle Award 2023 in recognition of his outstanding achievements relating to research into bevel gear technologies, the application of these technologies, and the design of drive systems. Presented every two years, this award comes with prize money of 100,000 euros, making it one of the biggest and most prestigious awards worldwide. At the joint award ceremony, 17 carefully selected university graduates from Germany, Austria, and Switzerland also received Graduate Awards in recognition of their excellent bachelor's and master's theses. Graduate Awards are presented each year by the SEW Eurodrive Foundation and are each worth 2,500 euros.

In presenting the Ernst-Blickle Award to Prof. Stadtfeld, the SEW Eurodrive Foundation of SEW Eurodrive – the global market leader in drive and automation technology headquartered in Bruchsal–is honoring a man who has not only been responsible for pioneering developments in drive technology but whose work also benefits society. Prof. Stadtfeld was born in 1951 in Manderscheid, a small town in the southern Eifel mountains in the Rhineland-Palatinate region of Germany. He also grew up there, starting off his school years in the town's elementary school. He began his career with a toolmaker's apprenticeship at Zahnradfabrik Friedrichshafen (ZF) in Schwäbisch Gmünd. He also continued working toward his high school graduation certificate at night school. He then went on to study mechanical engineering, first in Dortmund and later at RWTH Aachen University.

In his award speech, Prof. Fritz Klocke, deputy chairman of the SEW Eurodrive Foundation board, spoke about this award winner's remarkable career, the key milestones in his research activity, and his services to society. As Prof. Klocke pointed out, it is no easy task to summarize Prof. Stadtfeld's achievements, which include more than 60 inventions that have been registered for patents.

Prof. Stadtfeld's fundamental inventions and research results have revolutionized the manufacture of bevel and helical gear units and are still used in the industry on a daily basis – including in the cutting-edge production workshops at SEW Eurodrive. "Thanks to Prof. Stadtfeld, today's bevel gears deliver 5 to 10 percent better efficiency and a power density that is around 30 percent higher compared to 20 years ago," pointed out Prof. Klocke in his award speech. He paid tribute not only to the inventions themselves but also to how Prof. Stadtfeld enables both the world of drive technology and society to benefit from his work. Thanks to his many publications, both the specialist sector and industrial companies all over the world can reap the rewards of his work. He successfully achieves the difficult task of sharing complex specialist knowledge in a clear, easy-to-understand way. "As a passionate university lecturer, he has passed on his enthusiasm for mechanical engineering to many young people, and has helped and supported them in their education," said Prof. Klocke. Here, he particularly addressed his remarks to the young people from Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, who were also being presented with awards at the ceremony. In total, 17 university graduates received Graduate Awards from the SEW Eurodrive Foundation in recognition of their outstanding academic performance and degree theses. Each award comes with prize money of 2,500 euros.

The guests at the award ceremony learned more about Prof. Stadtfeld from Prof. Klocke's speech–for example, the fact that his love of technology started in his very early childhood and that he delighted his classmates with his experiments from a very young age. The audience also heard how, in his limited and precious free time, Prof. Stadtfeld turns his technical aptitude and skills to re-storing vintage cars and pursuing creative woodworking projects.

"I've always wanted to know exactly how something works and all the details of how things are interlinked. I kept on working at it, learning and studying, until I had solved the problem and had a crystal-clear understanding of how everything is interlinked." This is apparently how Prof. Stadtfeld himself described his love of both pure research and applied science. He certainly does not believe in working in isolation, as another of his many quotes makes abundantly clear: "People who work alone get backed up; people who collaborate multiply themselves!"

After being presented with the prize by Jürgen Blickle, chairman of the SEW Eurodrive Foundation and managing partner of SEW-Eurodrive, Prof. Stadtfeld made it very clear in his speech of thanks that he was highly honored to have received the award. Given the previous winners of this award from the SEW Eurodrive Foundation, who include what he described as the "crème de la crème of gearing technology experts in the Western world", he said that, as the 21st winner of the Ernst-Blickle Award , he felt as though he had been admitted to the "hall of fame". The 1997 award winner, Prof. Manfred Weck, who passed away in 2023, had a huge influence on him as his PhD supervisor. He also has a personal connection with the 2006 award winner, Prof. Bernd-Robert Höhn, whose father was a primary school teacher in Manderscheid, the town where Prof. Stadtfeld grew up.

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