How ETH doctoral student Christian Hirt wants to reduce training costs in the machine industry.
Would you say you are a good teacher?
You should ask the students whose Bachelor’s and Master’s theses I supervised as a doctoral student at the ETH Institute of Machine Tools and Manufacturing. But yes, I think teaching suits me.
With your project from the Business Concept course, you are no longer teaching students but apprentices and qualified professionals. How did that come about?
I was looking for a practical topic for my doctoral thesis. I wanted to solve a problem that was really affecting the manufacturing industry, and I discovered the enormous sums that companies spend on training apprentices and employees – for example, when installing new equipment. Together with Swissmem (the Swiss Association of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering Industries), we made estimates and came up with almost half a billion francs for the Swiss machinery industry alone. With our virtual reality platform, we are aiming for savings of 10 percent.
What does the platform do?
It allows users to learn and practice operating a machine on their own, with VR headsets.
Concerning your business model, who do you have in mind as customers?
Not the companies that buy and use the machines, but the manufacturers themselves. We want to help them reduce the operating costs of their products. So we map the machines in virtual space and embed them in our learning platform. We then grant the machine manufacturer a license to use the platform, which can be made available to customers as a cost-saving add-on.