Astronaut Thomas Reiter Receives Aachen Engineering Award

Astronaut in space Copyright: © NASA

350 – that’s the number of days he spent in space. More than any other European astronaut. He was the first German who accomplished an extravehicular activity in space in 1995, as part of Mission Euromir 95. Later he was also on board the International Space Station ISS. On Friday, September 9, 2016, Thomas Reiter will be honored with the Aachen Engineering Award by RWTH and the City of Aachen during a ceremony in Aachen's city hall. Then, on Saturday, September 10, 2016, he will give the keynote address at the University’s graduation celebration – in front of approximately 5,000 participants. "More than almost any other German engineer, Thomas Reiter symbolizes the departure to new, distant worlds … the adventure of research!” said Ernst Schmachtenberg, rector of RWTH Aachen.

  Astronauting writing something Copyright: © NASA

The Aachen Engineering Award is an honor jointly awarded by RWTH and the City of Aachen – with the kind support of Sparkasse Aachen as the primary sponsor and the Association of German Engineers VDI, which endows the award. The award is annually presented to an individual who has made a significant contribution to the positive perception or further development of engineering with their life’s work. "On the one hand it's about engineering impulses for technology and the economy, but on the other hand it's also about the recipient's personality and his work for our society. When engineers move the world – which is our natural assumption here in Aachen –, then awarding the astronaut and engineering Thomas Reiter is certainly hitting the nail on the head," explains Aachen's lord mayor, Marcel Philipp.


This is the third time the Aachen ENgineering Award will be awarded. The first recipient was Professor Berthold Leibinger, partner at TRUMPF GmbH + Co. KG. This past year Professor Franz Pischinger, founder of the Aachen FEV Motorentechnik GmbH. Reiter, born May 23, 1958, in Frankfurt am Main, actually quit being an astronaut in October 2007, but continued to signifcantly drive space travel. He worked at the German Aerospace Center, DLR for short, before later serving as director of human spaceflight and operations at the ESA. Since the beginning of 2016, he has been back at the ESA in Dortmund, serving as a coordinator in the ISS program and advisor to the director general.

Partners of the Engineering Award

Sparkasse Aachen

Sparkasse Aachen is once again the sponsor of the Engineering Award, honoring innovative performance in engineering. With its sponsorship it simultaneously promotes a special honor with an effect that spreads beyond the region and Aachen's profile as an economic and scientific region.


With more than 155,000 members the Society of German Engineers VDI is the largest technical and scientific association in Germany. For over 160 years it has provided important stimuli for new technologies and technical solutions, for better quality of life, a better environment, and more prosperity. The VDI is the donor of the sculpture by artist Mariana Castillo Deball, which the award recipient receives.

Source: Press and Communications