TUM Emeritus of Excellence Kurt Antreich

“I was one of the youngest and at the same time the boss”

As a child TUM Alumni Kurt Antreich had to flee from his Bohemian homelands. That he was able to gain his university-entrance diploma (Abitur) was not a matter of course. Later he conducted internationally renowned research on the field of Information Technology at TUM.

After their expulsion from Bohemia Kurt Antreich’s family found a new home in the Upper Palatinate. Kurt Antreich was 12 years old back then. Especially his wise grandmother tried to broaden the rather mediocre education Kurt Antreich received in the wartime village primary school. She had him taught by a famous mathematician, who had also fled. At a college of education, which had been remodelled to a secondary school, Kurt Antreich was eventually able to do his Abitur. “I was so happy to being able to do the Abitur at all”, he remembers today. The mathematician, who had become his mentor, advised him to study something solid that related to his talent for mathematics. Subsequently Kurt Antreich went to Munich and studied Electrical Engineering at TUM.

Restricted by the corporate corset

Upon earning his diploma in Electrical Engineering from TUM in 1959, 25-year-old Kurt Antreich joined AEG-Telefunken near Stuttgart as a design engineer. Quickly, he was promoted Laboratory Manager, Head of Department, and finally Director of the Advanced Development Department. “I was the boss and at the same time the youngest amongst the Head of Departments assigned to me” Kurt Antreich looks back on his meteoric career. At the same time it was a challenging time in his life. The permanent time constraints and pressure to perform in the company that was in constant competition with Siemens, the numerous hours of overtime, and the arduous work of employee motivation had drained him. And even though he proudly looks back on his achievements of that time, Kurt Antreich still remembers how restricted he felt in the corporation.

At the university you have a lot more freedom than in the industry.

As opposed to the ‘so-called free economy’, for Kurt Antreich the truly free people were the university lecturers: “They got to choose what they wanted to do research in. At the university you have a lot more freedom than in the industry.” He painfully experienced that during the teaching assignments at the Universities of Karlsruhe and Stuttgart he had while working for AEG-Telefunken. Here, he frequently managed to recruit the best students for the corporation in Stuttgart. However, after sixteen years he himself was extremely relieved to make the change to TUM in 1975. As a full professor he was called to build up the newly established Chair of Electronic Design Automation at the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Freedom and pioneering spirit at the university

At TUM Kurt Antreich was finally able to choose the focal points of his research himself. This freedom gave him wings to achieve scientifically challenging and at the same time economically relevant pioneer work. He was able to do that not least because of his extensive third-party fundraising. Especially Kurt Antreich’s research in developing modern CAD-tools and in the area of automated analogue circuit design contributed to the chair’s international recognition. In the eighties Kurt Antreich and his research group managed to develop a CAD-tool that was able to solve complex layout problems.This work has inspired numerous research efforts, amongst them important projects at the University of California in Berkeley. And also the algorithms for design automation of integrated systems developed by him and his team can be found in the design tools of current CAD-suppliers and in-house tools of major semiconductor manufacturers alike.

For many decades, and despite particularly strong international competition, Kurt Antreich has been instrumental in defining the technical and academic development of his field from the very beginning. In collaboration with TUM doctorate students a start-up for the production and worldwide distribution of software tools for the design of analogue components was created based on his research. Together with his successor at TUM and another colleague Kurt Antreich is still working there in an advisory role. As a TUM Emeritus of Excellence he remains to be a mentor to gifted students despite his old age. “This special title means a lot to me and tells me that my university was pleased with my work in teaching and research.”