Mourning for Prof Dr Karl-Hans Laermann

04.07.2024|12:17 Uhr

The University of Wuppertal mourns the loss of Professor Emeritus Karl-Hans Laermann. The former Federal Minister of Education died on 26 June 2024 at the age of 94. Laermann was one of the first professors in the field of civil engineering to be appointed to the comprehensive university, which was founded in 1972.

Photo Michael Mutzberg

Prof. Dr.-Ing., Dr.-Ing. E.H., Dr. h. c. mult. Karl-Hans Laermann held the professorship for Structural Analysis, headed the Laboratory for Experimental Stress Analysis and Measurement Technology and trained numerous civil engineers. His colleagues and students not only appreciated his outstanding expertise, but also his pleasant personality and his great, constructive commitment to the faculty and the university. Even after his retirement in 1995, he remained present and highly valued.

Prof Laermann's academic career began with a degree in civil engineering at RWTH Aachen University. As a graduate engineer, he worked for several construction companies before gaining his doctorate in 1963. In 1966, he habilitated with a thesis on "Stress-optical methods for solving elasticity theory problems in civil engineering". In 1971 he was appointed Scientific Councillor and Professor in Aachen and in 1974 Professor of Structural Analysis in Wuppertal.

Prof. Laermann has received several awards for his significant contributions to science, including honorary doctorates from Košice University of Technology, Tianjin University, Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg and Prague University of Technology. The European Association for Experimental Mechanics honoured his contributions to experimental mechanics with the "Award of merit". He was also elected as a "Corresponding Member" of the Class of Physical Sciences of the "Accademia delle Scienze dell'Istituto di Bologna"; its members also include Albert Einstein, Marie Curie and Luigi Galvani. In 1996, the President of the Bundestag, Rita Süssmuth, awarded him the Grand Cross of Merit with Star.

Prof Laermann also rendered outstanding services to science policy. For 24 years, from 1974 to 1998, he was part of the FDP parliamentary group in the Bundestag, where he was involved in research and technology issues and as a member of the Committee on Education, Science and Research. In 1994, he served in Helmut Kohl's cabinet as Federal Minister of Education and Science. Karl-Hans Laermann's life was characterised by science and politics, and he left his mark on politics and science.

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