In conversation with Carola Hilbert, who is working to create a DLR visitor centre in Adlershof: The head of the sites in the DLR Eastern region wants to make research more accessible to the public

26. February 2020

In conversation with Carola Hilbert, who is working to create a DLR visitor centre in Adlershof

The head of the sites in the DLR Eastern region wants to make research more accessible to the public

Carola Hilbert © WISTA Management GmbH

Carola Hilbert © WISTA Management GmbH

Flying across the Red Planet, driving a robotaxi, or travelling in high-tech trains. Carola Hilbert is fascinated by all these things. They are also simply parts of her everyday life. She became the head of the sites in the German Aerospace Centre’s (DLR) Eastern region. Hilbert wants to share her fascination with the DLR’s research with the general public. Her vision is to create a DLR visitor centre in Adlershof. This will enable everyone to come in close contact with far-away planets and galaxies, novel mobility solutions, and space technologies for daily use outside events like the Long Night of the Sciences or the DLR_School_Lab. As she tells us in the following interview, Carola Hilbert does not believe in idle hands. With her on board, we look forward to seeing where the DLR is headed.

Adlershof Journal: The DLR is a fixture in Adlershof. What about its roots?

Carola Hilbert: Our roots go back into the last century. The German Research Institute for Aviation (Deutsche Versuchsanstalt für Luftfahrt, DVL) was founded on 20 April 1912 in Adlershof. It has been home to space research since 1967 as part of the Interkosmos programme and, since 1981, at the Institute for Cosmological Research of the East German Academy of the Sciences, which was integrated into the DLR in 1992.

When was your first contact with Adlershof?

I started working here in the administration of the Institute for Cosmological Research in 1986. When the Berlin Wall came down, I made a seamless transition into the DLR. The site itself, on the other hand, has undergone radical changes. I am frequently amazed at how many new things have been created and are still created to this day.

You became the head of the DLR’s Eastern region last summer. How much ground does this cover?

In addition to the Institutes for Planetary Research, Transport Research, Transportation Systems, and Optical Sensor Systems, there are DLR sites in Neustrelitz, Dresden, Jena, Cottbus, and Zittau. We currently have over 1,000 employees. And we are continuing to grow.

Is the DLR planning to build in Adlershof?

Plans for moving the DLR’s Institute of Propulsion Technology to Adlershof, which is currently based at Technical University Berlin, have been around for a long time. However, the Adlershof site is bursting at the seams. We have already rented rooms in Rudower Chaussee 7 for the Institute of Transport Research and talks for building an additional building in Adlershof are underway. After that, there might be a possibility of realising my dream of a visitor centre.

Are there any details?

I stepped up to make the DLR more accessible to the public. In Adlershof, I could imagine a place much like the Life Science Learning Lab in Berlin-Buch. We currently have the DLR_School_Lab and a showroom. However, these can only increase the visibility to a fraction of the DLR’s research. That is why a visitor centre is my vision.

Is your career a model career at the DLR?

The DLR has made balancing career and family a priority. I am no exception. Three out of four DLR institutes in Adlershof are headed by women. Promoting women is very important to me. I like to pass on my own experience to the next generation through mentoring and talent promotion programmes.

What do you do in your spare time?

I love to spend time in nature. Walking in the woods, hiking, and working in my garden are great ways to balance working in administration. Spare time to me also means spending time with my family.

Who do you look up to?

I have an admiration for Michelle Obama, the former First Lady of the United States.

When did you last try something new?

My resolution for 2020 is: putting my phone away more often and talking to people in person instead. Although I don’t always succeed, I now have a heightened awareness of it.

 

Interview by Sylvia Nitschke for Adlershof Journal

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