Skip to main content

Communications and Marketing | Alumni Office

Alumni Key Visual 1920x1080px

Johannes Steinhaus, Materials Engineering

From university to industry - and back to university for his doctorate: Johannes Steinhaus' research passion is polymer materials; for his doctorate, he researched plastic dental fillings. He is also a kickboxer - is there perhaps a connection?
Portrait Johannes Steinhaus (DE)

Update: Johannes Steinhaus was appointed Professor at the Department of Natural Sciences on 1 October 2020.

We normally think of researchers as ageing, more or less well-dressed personalities who like to get lost in technical jargon and details. An alumnus of Hochschule Bonn-Rhein-Sieg proves that there is another way. He appears almost casual when you meet him on the street - jeans, shirt not quite buttoned up, a relaxed gait and an open-minded, friendly grin on his face, in which a teasing little lower lip beard stands out. You would never think you were looking at a researcher. Johannes Steinhaus appears even-tempered, almost carefree.

However, Steinhaus is actually researching light-curing, plastic-based dental fillings in an annexe of Hochschule Bonn-Rhein-Sieg in Rheinbach. He laid the foundation for this by studying materials engineering at H-BRS. "It all started with my degree dissertation. I was already doing research in this area back then," says Steinhaus. Gestures are not his thing when he talks. You almost get the impression that he simply doesn't need them. With precise and understandable formulations, he also manages to make the main features of his work comprehensible to laypeople. After completing his degree, Steinhaus went out into the world of business, and it initially looked as though he was going to give up research. "I worked as a sales engineer in Dortmund and Bonn for a few years." However, just three years later, he was drawn back to his roots at H-BRS.

tree_treffen_geilen_reith_asteroth_steinhaus_sta_20160218_foto_s._flessing_teasercut.jpg (DE)

Over the years, Steinhaus had always kept in touch with his old university, and the pleasant working environment with good facilities and a friendly atmosphere lured him back. "I really enjoyed working as a sales engineer. However, over time it simply became too commercial for me, and the connection to plastics also faded more and more into the background," explains Steinhaus. "In industry, solutions are required within a very short space of time. But I sometimes need time to find the best solution to a problem - I have that time in research."

ced-iadr-tagung_vortrag_dr._steinhaus_201510_foto_t._haenel.jpg (DE)

As if on cue, the opportunity to work in research at his old university in Rheinbach presented itself. 250,000 euros in research funding over four years was available for research into thermosets. Thermosets? "These are simply hardenable plastics," Steinhaus reveals with a wink. "They are used everywhere today: in aeroplanes, cars, safety helmets - and in dental fillings. We now also carry out contract research for industry at H-BRS. The income from this sector is even enough to pay two additional employees."

In addition to research and his work as Managing Director of the research institute TREE, the University Institute for Technology, Resource and Energy-efficient Engineering, Steinhaus also looks after the next generation of students. In the fourth and fifth semesters, he gives lectures on "Thermal analysis methods for plastics" and supervises exercises and practicals in the field of "Polymers and composites". When asked which work - in the research lab or in the lecture theatre - appeals to him more, Steinhaus has to think long and hard - he seems torn. "It really is 50:50. Research is great because you can uncover secrets." Publishing these research findings and receiving positive feedback from respected scientists is the reward for the hard work. But the job as a lecturer is also very fulfilling: "It's a bit like teaching children to walk." As a lecturer, he also bears a great deal of responsibility for the future of the students: "I shape their lives to a certain extent. If I do it well, I'm doing them a big favour."

If you look at the sparkle in Steinhaus' eyes when he talks about his experiences with the students, you get the impression that he is perhaps particularly enthusiastic about teaching: "I'm always impressed by the performance of some young students," he enthuses. "Before you know it, they are at eye level and go out into the industry as confident, educated individuals. That makes me really proud." Just like having your own children.

The dental researcher appropriately finds a balance from work in kickboxing. And? Has he ever knocked someone's tooth out to preserve his guild? "No," laughs Steinhaus. "I really only do it for physical exercise - I don't even compete." Nevertheless, this original pastime with friends has grown into a club with over 100 members, which he played a key role in founding. Here, too, Steinhaus is expanding the circle to which he passes on his expertise.

Text: Maximilian Dittler

Maximilian Dittler is studying technical journalism at H-BRS. He wrote this portrait as part of an alumni project on the Technical Journalism degree programme in the winter semester of 2015/2016.

Do you still have questions?

bwh_fuer_web.jpg (DE)

Barbara Wieners-Horst

Referentin Alumni-Management


Sankt Augustin


E 238


Grantham-Allee 20

53757, Sankt Augustin


+49 2241 865 9603