Competence and Research Centers

  The Rogowski Institute © RWTH Aachen

Competence and Research Centers combine specific research skills and activities of various RWTH institutions.


In contrast to the work communities, the Competence Centers at RWTH collaborate with a limited number of institutes, focusing on research with the goal of creating a more efficient connection between the institutions’ research activities.

The Competence Centers are not all structured the same way. However, an arrangement is typically made by the involved institutes, in which the goals and structure of the cooperation are determined. The duration of the Competence Centers is unlimited.


RWTH Aachen Competence and Research Centers

AKM – Aachen Competence Center for Medical Technology

Through a variety of activities, the AKM association supports the development of medical technology in the Aachen region. It promotes the transfer of information through events and networking, facilitates partnerships, and supports young researchers and the exploration of new technologies. Members of varying disciplines evaluate current research projects, which in turn generates new impulses and identifies possible fields of application for research results that had previously not been considered.

AKWG - Aachen Competence Center for the History of Science

At a technical university, the examination of the historical dimensions of science is an indispensable addition to contact shaped by science and technology. The AKWG combines expertise in the history of science at RWTH Aachen to promote interdisciplinary exchange for socially relevant research processes. In general, objects from the history of science, medicine, engineering, and science are at the focus. Cultural, social, economic, and the political contexts of science make it possible to describe the place of science in the respective society. Furthermore, science can then be experienced as a productive addition to the environment.

APC – Aachen Polymer Chain

Polymer materials are the foundation for new technologies and innovative products.  Exploiting the potential of these materials by developing new products is a part of global competition.  Through their close cooperation, natural scientists and engineers cover the entire spectrum between fundamental research and applied research.  As a powerful partner, APC assumes research and development tasks in collaboration with industries responsible for creating and processing plastics.

AZL – Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production

In lightweight design and production research, it is no longer sufficient to investigate the individual manufacturing processes in isolation. The main objective of the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production is to transform lightweight design processes and optimize them for production. This goal, which is implemented in cooperation with other projects conducted in the field of lightweight construction, requires intense interdisciplinary collaboration between the material sciences and production technology. Several institutes on the University’s Melaten Campus provide the competencies necessary to  investigate the entire value chain. On site, more than 700 scientists are conducting research on production technologies as well as lightweight materials and applications. 

BioSC – Bioeconomy Science Center

Following an integrative strategy, the Bioeconomy Science Center (BioSC) conducts research for a sustainable bioeconomy. Since its foundation in 2010, it pools the expertise of the research and educational institutions RWTH Aachen, the University of Bonn, Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf, and Forschungszentrum Jülich. Currently, 54 research institutes contribute to the Center. 

The BioSC integrates all disciplines and branches of research that may contribute to the sustainable provision of biomass, bio-based products, and processes in the bioeconomy value network.

Interdisciplinary research is conducted on a host of bioeconomic topics, including the following:

  • Sustainable production of plant-based biomass taking into account the diverse, interacting paths of its utilization while safeguarding the environmental resources soil and water
  • Molecular and microbial transformation of bio-based resources into valuable materials
  • Chemical engineering technologies for the transformation of bio-based resources in integrated processes
  • Analysis and evaluation of economic preconditions for and societal effects of a bio-based economy

CCC – Computational Chemistry Coalition

“Computational chemistry” refers to solving chemical problems using mathematical, numerical, and theoretical tools and methods.  RWTH’s Computational Chemistry Coalition is a multidisciplinary group of independent researchers.  The coalition consists of multiple work groups that actively contribute to solving chemical problems with computer supported methods.  With its expertise, the coalition supports both research inside and outside of the university and is involved in improving the mathematical and theoretical skills of RWTH’s chemistry students.

CCE – Center for Circular Economy

The Center for Circular Economy (CCE) bundles the expertise of all faculties of RWTH Aachen University on sustainable circular economy. Trans- and interdisciplinary methods are developed for the process optimisation of the three main areas of the CCE: sustainable product design during production, business models during product use and material recovery during product recycling. The development of these methods is carried out through the interdisciplinary cooperation of a wide range of institutes, some of which look at different stages of the life cycle or the same stages in different sectors. The different technical backgrounds of the institutes thereby enable the development of a comprehensive understanding of Circular Economy and thus abstraction from the individual application.

CMT – Center for Molecular Transformations

The Center for Molecular Transformations (CMT) provides its members with a platform within which they can develop and coordinate their interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research interests. The CMT serves to network the disciplines within RWTH Aachen University as well as with external research institutions, industrial partners, project sponsors, and funding agencies.

The thematic focus is on the research areas of chemistry, biology, biotechnology, process engineering, and related disciplines with the aim of understanding, predicting, controlling, and technically implementing molecular transformations.

The close connection with the profile area Molecular Science and Engineering (MSE), the networking with the profile area Energy, Chemical and Process Engineering (ECPE), and the collaboration with other complementary disciplines offer great potential for future-oriented research projects.

CSHS – Center for Sustainable Hydrogen Systems

The aim of the Center for Sustainable Hydrogen Systems is to bundle and strengthen hydrogen system research at RWTH Aachen University.

The Center for Sustainable Hydrogen Systems, CSHS for short, is the central point of contact for all issues relating to hydrogen research at RWTH Aachen University. The center bundles expertise in the strategic topic of hydrogen and creates a common interface that encompasses both the faculties and the transverse profile areas. Only through the close coordination and cooperation of the various faculties is sustainable research possible on a holistic approach from the production of hydrogen to its storage and distribution and its use in industry, be it chemical or energetic in the private sector and in mobility.

CWE – Center for Wind and Earthquake Engineering

The Center for Wind and Earthquake Engineering (CWE) combines and guides the interdisciplinary teaching and research activities at the RWTH Aachen University in the fields of Wind and Earthquake Engineering. Through the involved institutes the CWE offers an excellent and longstanding expertise in structural dynamics and runs comprehensive efficient and highly specialised testing facilities.

FEMU – Forschungszentrum für Elektro-Magnetische Umweltverträglichkeit

Humans are inevitably exposed to low and high frequency technical fields of different kinds in their homes and workplaces. FEMU is a department of RWTH Aachen University Hospital that conducts interdisciplinary research on biological and medical effects of magnetic fields and waves on humans, animals, and plants.  It collaborates with various RWTH Aachen faculties and external organizations and focuses on the following questions in research: how do electromagnetic fields affect organisms, implants, and technical aids? Are there thresholds for interaction in humans (co-factors: age, health status, etc) depending on the type of field and period of exposure? What diagnostic and therapeutic procedures are at the basics of electromagnetic interaction?

HCIC – Human-Computer Interaction Center

The Human-Computer Interaction Center (HCI Center, or HCIC for short) is a central institute of RWTH Aachen University. It integrates an interdisciplinary group of researchers that look at Human-Computer Interaction, Usability, Risk Communication and Technology Acceptance from different perspectives. We conduct academic and industry-funded research and development.

I3AC – Interdisciplinary Imaging & Vision Institute Aachen

The competence center concentrates on computer vision and imaging research and development – a key technology forming the basis for numerous innovative technological developments and applications. Since research in the area of “imaging & vision” is conducted in many disciplines with varying methods and approaches, the center aims to create a holistic network of the individuals and their activities in the various fields to optimize the exchange between them. This field of research combines elements from imaging, signal and information processing, artificial intelligence, and actuator engineering. i3ac is a coalition of eleven institutes from RWTH Aachen, the Aachen University of Applied Sciences, and Forschungszentrum Jülich.

IZKF Aachen – Aachen Interdisciplinary Center for Clinical Research

The task and goal of the IZKF Aachen is to strengthen the translational medical research stemming from its basic research and clinic. The IZKF at UKA considers itself a development and strategy program of the RWTH Faculty of Medicine. By supporting first class research projects, it strives to greatly improve chances for fundraising high amounts of external funding.  In addition to funding research projects, the IZKF supports young researchers and offers use of equipment and expertise in its Core Facilities for research. Thus, for example, the Core Facility “Brain Imaging” at the IZKF Aachen is a central institution for the conception, implementation, and evaluation of fMRT- and PET studies within the University Hospital.

JRC-COMBINE – Joint Research Center for Computational Biomedicine

Computational Biomedicine is a key technology for better healthcare, agriculture and biotechnology. In particular, computational models linking bench and bedside are essential for the development of safe, efficient, and personalized therapies of complex diseases. To realize the full potential of computational biomedicine, these models must address the  complexity of medicine, integrating mechanistic aspects with big data analysis.

At the interdisciplinary Joint Research Center for Computational Biomedicine (JRC-COMBINE), a joint venture of RWTH Aachen University, RWTH Aachen University Hospital, and the Bayer AG we combine advanced modeling technologies and systems biology approaches with expertise from industry and academia to provide benefit for clinics, industry and society at large.

AI Center – Center for Artificial Intelligence

The RWTH Center for Artificial Intelligence has been founded with the goal to strengthen and to focus the research activities in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning at RWTH Aachen University.

Both basic research on AI methods and  the close integration of application disciplines should contribute to establishing RWTH as one of the leading university locations for AI research in Germany.

MARC – Magnetic Resonance Center

The Magnetic Resonance Center at the Institute for Technical and Macromolecular Chemistry (ITMC) exploits the full potential of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) technology. The equipment serves high-resolution NMR spectroscopy, NMR imaging of soft matter, and the study of the effects of chemical processes in chemical, biological, and medical engineering. One integral part of MARC is the division for mobile low-field NMR for nondestructive testing and chemical analyses at the site of interest. The unique equipment and expertise is applied to a variet of interdisciplinary research projects within ITMC, RWTH Aachen University, international cooperative projects, and industrial collaborations.

NeuroSys Future Cluster

The NeuroSys Future Cluster is part of the Clusters4Future initiative funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). The vision of this emerging technologies research cluster is to develop innovative hardware for applications in artificial intelligence (AI) and to establish the Aachen region as a world leader in this field.

PROTECA – Production Technology Aachen

PROTECA combines research and expertise from the field of production technology with the goal of increasing Aachen's attraction as site for research and thus prepare the foundation for new settlements in the field of production technology: Expertise in production technology planning and organization, the manufacturing process and necessary machines, and quality management will all be in one location.  A focus is being placed on the developed of high-tech products.


The NanoClub networks the interdisciplinary research activities at RWTH in the fild of nano science and technology. It also acts as a platform for activities at the local, national, and European level. Focus is placed on molecular and complex systems, nanoanalytics and nanomechanics, nanoelectronics and integration, information technology, quantum information, and medical research. In medical research, the focus is particularly concentrated on diagnosis through the use of nanoparticles and ion channels.

SignGes – Competence Center for Sign Language and Gesture

For more than 20 years now the SignGes-Team of the Faculty of Humanities at RWTH Aachen has carried out research in the field of sign language. The research group consists of members who are hearing impaired as well as people who are not. It thereby contributes significantly to the inclusion of persons with a hearing impairment.

The following topics constitute the main areas of research and teaching:

  • Sign language and culture of the Deaf
  • Accessible communication, education and didactics
  • Vocational rehabilitation and media literacy
  • Linguistics and cognitive semiotics
  • Co-speech gesture
  • Multimodal interaction
  • 3D Motion-Capture technology

Compressors for Aircraft Engines (Verdichter für Flugtriebwerke)

Due to the constantly increasig volume of traffic in commercial aviation, more development is needed in the creation of efficient engines.  RWTH Aachen and Germany's largest manufacturer of aircraft engines, MTU Aero Engines, are cooperating together in the competence center Compressors for Aircraft Engines.  In the center, collaboration is being intensified in the research and development of the design, construction, and manufacture of the next generation of aircraft engines.  The goal is to improve the engines' security, efficiency, weight, use, exhaust gas and acoustic emissions, manufacture and maintance costs,  among others. The collaboration ensures that young researchers gain application-oriented training and education and strengthens the university's teaching.

ZMB – Center for Metallic Design

RWTH Aachen has powerful institutes that deal with steel research and application in various fields. The ZMB brings together expertise from the fields of construction engineering, metallurgical engineering, automotive engineering, welding and joining technology, steel and light metal construction, and materials science. This combination offers the possibility to present close process chains in close cooperations, beginning from the choice of material up to the finished product.

Hydrogen Future Cluster

Hydrogen as an energy carrier offers the possibility of establishing a local and global CO2-neutral energy economy. The Hydrogen Future Cluster is pooling existing expertise in hydrogen technologies in and around Aachen from various stakeholders in industry, science, and society. The entire hydrogen life cycle – from production to storage and distribution to use – is being considered.