Rosenheim. How do you get from the milling machine to the wireless network of the future? Katharina Vodermaier (21) brings both together in her job. The industrial mechanic from Chiemgau works at Ericsson (formerly Kathrein) in the field of cell phone antennas. She recently completed her training in the company and started as a development specialist at the Rosenheim plant.
“An exciting place of work,” says the young woman, who as a laboratory mechanic now deals with cell phone antennas – the former core business of the family company Kathrein, which the Swedish network supplier Ericsson acquired in 2019.
Antennas for the new 5G cellular network are being developed at the site. Data rushes through the ether at lightning speed. This not only brings record speeds for private downloads, it also enables data to be exchanged in real time – a crucial prerequisite for autonomous driving and networked factories!
She makes experiments and makes boxes for the roofs
Vodermaier is working on the new technology and contributing her knowledge of working with metal. For example, she manufactures supports for antennas. The finished boxes will later be mounted outside on the roofs. Inside is difficult technology: radio antennas (small, silver panes), system technology, data interfaces, cooling and not to forget the power connection. It is important to make good use of the narrow space.
Vodermaier’s tasks are varied. It mills, turns, takes measurements and evaluates them on the computer. The specialist is in the middle of the job and cannot even believe that the stressful examination period with a double degree is over. In addition to training in the metalworking profession, she passed her technical diploma – the Bad Aibling vocational school recently started offering this model.
You also need fast internet to learn
The final spurt fell in the middle of the corona lockdown. Once again it became clear how important digital communication is: for virtual learning you need fast internet.
Vodermaier decided to take up a technical career just before graduating from school. She attended a girls’ secondary school and actually wanted to be a kindergarten teacher. “But during the internship at the daycare center, I noticed that I didn’t really care,” she says. An alternative was found on the school bulletin board. The Kathrein company offered taster internships for the girls there. Direct hit! Vodermaier liked the company so much that she applied for a training position.
“I was always good at the natural sciences,” she notes, “the boys in the vocational school quickly noticed that we girls could do something.” They knew materials science and hardening processes from their chemistry class, and heat from physics. Speed calculations were also no problem. “I was well prepared through practical experience and the additional lessons in the company.” Only reading technical drawings was not easy for her at the beginning. But over time you get a glimpse of it: “Especially when you manufacture workpieces with your own hands.”
Vodermaier would like more girls in the metalworking profession. “Mixed teams are more relaxed,” she says. The group agrees and promotes diversity. In Germany, Ericsson employs around 2,700 people at twelve locations, including around 1,000 in research and development. Almost a third of the trainees in Rosenheim are female.
How did you get into your job?
Basically, I had something completely different in mind. But trying it out doesn’t hurt, for example with an internship. I can highly recommend this.
What do you like most?
You can do a lot with a metal profession. When it comes to the machines after the first year of apprenticeship, things get really interesting.
What is important?
You need skilled hands, an understanding of technology and a good spatial sense. But you can train that.