In a relaxed atmosphere: Farewell to Professor Thomas Pretz

  Pictures of Prof. Pretz Copyright: Department of Processing and Recycling

In a relaxed atmosphere: Farewell to Professor Thomas Pretz

On the occasion of his retirement from active employment on January 31st, 2020, Thomas Pretz, Head of the Department of Processing and Recycling, invited colleagues, employees and former co-workers to Aachen to his former workplace on January 17th. Over 100 participants accepted his invitation to the RWTH to discuss the past and future in a relaxed atmosphere.

Clearly future-oriented was the colloquium with which the celebration in the Ford Hall of the Super C began, themed "Processing and recycling - tasks for tomorrow and the day after tomorrow". Four former assistants, who did their doctorate degree under Thomas Pretz, as well as a close companion from his own time as an assistant under Professor Dr.-Ing. Heinz Hoberg, formed the framework with the following topics, which were at times presented tongue in cheek:

  • Dr.-Ing. Rudolf Diegel: Recycling of mineral waste
  • Prof. Dr.-Ing. Gilian Gerke: A different approach to plastic recycling - horror or challenge?
  • Dr.-Ing. Oliver Pickhard: Processing and recycling - tasks for tomorrow and the day after tomorrow
  • Dr.-Ing. Nico Schmalbein: Waste processing technology
  • Dr.-Ing. Mattias von Harten: Recycling 4.0

The colloquium was moderated by the host. With future perspectives in mind, the challenges for recyclers are changing but overall they will not be less demanding, said Pretz. He pointed out that each time period has its own specific challenges: While in the early days of waste management the development and design of technical processes was the main focus of activities, around 30 years ago the establishment of markets for secondary raw materials became the main issue. Nowadays, due to the awareness of finite raw material resources and increasing environmental pollution, resource aspects play an important role, which leads to a change in objectives and perspectives. In the future, great attention will be paid to closing material cycles and evaluating processes and process chains according to sustainability assessments. This will naturally lead to changes in the framework conditions for technology and waste management and thus also for the education of academics in the field of waste management.

The celebration continued on the premises of the Department of Processing and Recycling (I.A.R.) with drinks and canapés. For some of the guests this was a chance to see their laboratories and offices again after many years. The guests casually chatted until late in the evening/early morning.

The performances of the TEER and I.A.R. employees were very well received by the audience and the host.

With vocal guidance from Margret Joannidis the TEER choir sparked real waves of excitement with the melody of "Mein kleiner grüner Kaktus" (My little green cactus) and the lyrical adaptation to waste-related challenges for FRE colleagues - especially those related to odour.

The afterwards presented recollections of former I.A.R. research assistants of their time at the department as well as of memorable statements and anecdotes of their PhD supervisor were both touching and delightful. Karoline Raulf and Adele Clausen optimally prepared the digital data sets and the current I.A.R. staff linked them together by means of a background story.

On January 31st, Professor Dr.-Ing Thomas Pretz officially resigns from his position as head of the Department of Processing. After more than 22 years as professor at the I.A.R., the acquisition of a large number of national and international research and service projects, as an expert and consultant on questions regarding waste and processing technology, a new chapter in his life is about to begin, which he can now approach more self-determinedly than before with his wife at his places of residence in Brittany and Aachen.

We, the staff of the I.A.R. wish him and his wife all the best. We do, however, also assume that he will not sidestep any processing-related challenges in the future.

We are excited.

On behalf of the I.A.R.: Alexander Feil

  Pictures of Prof. Pretz Copyright: Department of Processing and Recycling