20th February 2017

Humans of SKODA: Tomáš Pačák, first PhD. student at ŠKODA AUTO

Success of the ŠKODA brand is only possible thanks to the thousands of employees who strive to do their best every single day. However, if we wanted to introduce each one of them in a separate interview about their day at work, it would take us about one hundred years. Nevertheless, it would be a pity not to share a few stories. That is why we selected several personalities across company areas and positions and we now bring you the opportunity to get to know them.

How did you get the idea to apply for the ŠKODA AUTO Doctoral programme? How long have you been here?

Before the end of my M.A. study I was offered the opportunity to enrol in the PhD. programme at the Department of mechanical engineering technology at the CTU in Prague. At first I wasn‘t really thinking about continuing my studies, but the offer included cooperation with ŠKODA AUTO as part of the newly opened Doctoral programme. Since cooperation with a company of this significance means a lot in the mechanical engineering field and working for ŠKODA AUTO was one of my personal goals, the decision was a fast and easy one. After three years in the Doctoral programme I definitely do not regret the decision.

In what ways have the Doctoral programme helped you in your personal development?

The PhD. study in combination with ŠKODA AUTO’s Doctoral programme have been instrumental in my development. I think that if I had started a regular job right after my M.A. graduation, my personal development would have been much slower. The programme has allowed me to experience various situations, like participating on various events as an active presenter or lecturer, quite rarely in Czech actually. These included the annual meeting of doctor’s degree students from around the Group at the PRO.MOTION event in Wolfsburg or presentation of a project and topic of dissertation thesis at Volkswagen in Hannover and Osnabrück. While at university I was always nervous when giving a presentation, today I can get up in front of a group of people and give a presentation without any trouble even in a foreign language. In terms of time, the programme was very flexible and I could modify attendance according to my needs. I would usually spend three days a week at the uni in Prague and two days in Mladá Boleslav. Moreover, I got lucky, because my work at the department and the topic of my dissertation thesis were closely related.

Tell us about the focus and goals of your thesis in detail please.

My thesis is concerned with metal part pressing process, more specifically bodywork parts. In the bodywork parts pressing process defects arise that lead to geometric instability of the shape, the so called material spring-back. This is an undesirable change of shape. The goal of the dissertation thesis is designing methodology which will lead to improving the pressing process and removing the defects.

What was the response to the dissertation thesis on the academic ground?

Eventually positive, but there were even more reactions from ŠKODA AUTO and the VW in general, since the thesis was presented at Group meetings and conferences. The topic of the thesis is concerned with a hot topic which also our colleagues from Audi, Volkswagen and elsewhere around the world try to deal with. The topic of material spring-back is highly sought-after in practice.

Has your dissertation thesis somehow contributed to the operation of the Press tool design department at ŠKODA AUTO?

Undoubtedly. The main outcome of the thesis is methodology which describes how to approach the issue in question. Nowadays, numerical simulations are commonly used, but in the case of material spring-back it is still unclear how the numerical simulations should be adjusted and which tools should be used for analyzing the problem. Major contribution in this respect is made by the unified methodology of spring-back analysis and compensation.

What does your common day at work looks like at ŠKODA AUTO?

My day at work starts very early because I commute to Mladá Boleslav from Prague. The first thing I do in the morning is switch on my PC and then I sort out daily issues. For example, last summer we were finishing a very interesting project of press tool production for the new Audi A3. During the day I mainly work with two programmes, CATIA for 3D designs and AutoForm for virtual simulation of the pressing process. A very common activity is also presenting individual parts of projects at team meetings or to the management. Since my job is not very demanding in terms of physical activity, I try to do sports after work to make the day more balanced, I usually go for a run or do kickbox. 

You have been working for ŠKODA full-time since July. Did you stay at the department where you worked during the Doctoral programme? Was it a clear choice for you?

 Working for another department was out of the question due to several reasons at once. Most importantly, I gradually became familiar and gained experience during the preceding doctoral internship already. As a result, getting hired full-time was completely stress-free, since the change was not that big. I was able to join the work process practically from day one. Another reason was the friendly environment and a great group of people who support each other. In particular, both my managers Pavel Umáčený and Petr Chaloupecký are always willing to help me with anything, both study and work related issues.

What motivates you at work?

At work I am definitely most motivated when I enjoy the work itself, and also when my job has some purpose. Fortunately, both of these criteria have been fulfilled, I can see the results of our department’s work everywhere around us on a daily basis in the models produced by the Group. At the same time I am motivated by the opportunity of further development, both professional and personal.

What was your dream job when you were little?

As a boy, a hockey-player who started out at the age of six, my dream job was quite straightforward. I wanted to make my living playing ice-hockey for Montreal Canadians next to the famous forward Saku Koivu.

Which animal comes to your mind when I say ŠKODA AUTO?

A hare! Who has not been to the Mladá Boleslav plant will not believe that there are hundreds of small or big hares running around. The plant is their home and not even the loud logistic operations disturb them. It is always kind of uplifting to be walking home from work and see a hare hopping across the road.

 

Do you want to find out more about the ŠKODA AUTO Doctor’s programme? Visit Students programmes section Students – Doctoral programs.