Prof. Galek, can I begin by asking where your passion for electronics and electrical engineering comes from? Does it go back to your childhood?
Yes, we were that kind of family. My father was a mechanical engineer and we had our own workshop at home. Anything that broke – typewriter, TV, whatever – was taken apart and repaired. Later on, I fixed computer stuff as well. I remember one monitor that I repaired with a soldering iron and then insulated using sticky tape and an envelope. That allowed me to get a few more years out of it.
“I strongly believe that power electronics have an important part to play in finding a greener alternative for aviation.“
And how did you end up working in the field of electrical energy conversion, distribution, and storage?
Originally, the area in which I did my initial studies, Embedded Software Design, had very little to do with the work I’m involved in today. However, my career first began to show where it was headed when I worked in the central research department at Siemens while I was still a student. There, the main focus was on researching and developing power converters. As this is a very diverse area, there were many opportunities for me to apply what I had learned so far in my studies. But in all the research and development work I’ve ever done, it was always important for me to create things that performed a very clear function – that actually did something.
I can imagine. Did you have any ties with aviation back then?
Yes, interestingly enough, I did. Even though that was 20 years ago, the electrification of aviation was already an important area of focus at that time. In fact, many of our research projects were actually centered on electrified aviation.
As an expert, what impact do you think electric drive systems will have on aviation? What will be the greatest challenge here?
I strongly believe that power electronics have an important part to play in finding a greener alternative for aviation. The technology we are developing is essential to improving the global carbon footprint. The greatest challenges will be related to electrical energy storage – the same problems that are associated with the energy transition in general. This is what severely limits the usability of electric aircraft today.