The initial goal of the UMIC cluster was to enable future Ultra High-Speed Mobile Information and Communication, with the main vision of broadband wireless internet access at reasonable access costs triggering the next wave of economic and innovation growth. Today it is indeed the low cost access, predominantly in the form of flat data rates, which drives the exponentially increasing mobile Internet access. This has led to a strong cost pressure on operators and equipment providers. Researching technologies that address these problems has thus been the right approach. Over time mobile internet access grew rapidly. UMIC reacted to this with a shift in the focus to Universal Mobile Access to Information and Communication, thus putting more emphasis on the user perspective with technologies supporting universal mobile access.
A major differentiator of the research centre to competitors and the usual chair based systems in faculties is its ability to closely collaborate, addressing particular problem domains on a broader scale. In UMIC three interdisciplinary flagship projects emerged over the course of the collaboration: LocalizeMe, addressing application topics, Cognitive Radios and Networks, addressing flexible and efficient use of the wireless communication resources, and Nucleus, addressing platforms and design methodology for flexible (mobile) terminals. Research in the UMIC centre produced substantial scientific results documented by, e.g. more than 1,000 peer-reviewed journal and conference papers, by extensive technology transfer to industry partners and via start-up companies and by one Leibniz Prize and three ERC Grants received during the UMIC funding period.
Further, the UMIC research cluster has led to cultural and structural changes in the involved departments of RWTH Aachen University. Most notably, it has successfully introduced a structured career path for junior researchers based on Junior Professor positions (assistant professorship). Out of 6 established junior professorships 3 have got tenure in Aachen, 2 in other international top universities, and one more is still in the tenure track. This shows the high quality of the candidates the UMIC was able to attract. UMIC gender equality promotion activities contributed significantly to a development where both Computer Science and Electrical Engineering departments increased the percentage of female researchers in post study career stages (i.e. Doctoral degrees and Professors) to a balance with the percentage of female students. Last but not least UMIC has been intellectual home for 176 doctoral researcher of which 97 have already successfully defended their doctoral thesis work.
The UMIC research centre building, the new research groups and the five labs with state-of-the-art equipment teams established through UMIC funding are the basis of sustained UMIC research. Moreover, UMIC research is a key component of the strategy of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) profile area of RWTH Aachen University.
UMIC Video (german version) here