Conceptual Modeling in an Age of Uncertainty: Cluster Researchers at 40th ER-Conference


The two Cluster researchers Niklas Schäfer from the Chair of Production Systems at WZL and Dr. Judith Michael from the Chair of Software Engineering participated in the International Conference on Conceptual Modeling on October 18-21, 2021 with a scientific contribution on the topic of conceptual modeling and the digital shadow. The ER-Conference as the most important academic discussion space and meeting place in the field, had dedicated itself to the motto "Conceptual Modeling in the Age of Uncertainty" in 2021. The conference was held online, after a short-term change of its initially planned concept in physical form, and took place for the 40th time. Next year's ER Conference is scheduled to be held in Hyderabad, India, as well in October.


Dr. Michael, what impressions did you personally take away from the conference?

It was great to meet up with international colleagues again and to discuss exciting topics. The ER community is very open and communicative. I have known many of my colleagues there for many years and I am looking forward to meeting them again at the conference.

  Portrait Dr. Judith Michael Copyright: © Source: Kathrin Richter (GI)

How can you briefly break down your presentation topic and what is its relevance for the scientific community? How is your research topic embedded in the complex of IoP?

We presented our scientific contribution on conceptual modeling of digital shadows, which was developed within the IoP framework. The team of authors is composed of different chairs (list of authors) who have worked together on this topic in Workstream A.II. Digital shadows form an important basis for obtaining the data relevant to the production and its context at the necessary granularity and at the appropriate level of aggregation. The conceptual model provides a basis to capture the necessary information in a structured way for a specific purpose such as reducing scrap or optimizing the resources used, and further down the line, for example, to facilitate code generation or sharing across application domains. We presented the conceptual model and a detailed explanation of all concepts as well as showed a practical example from injection molding. This is just one of the use cases from WS-A.II. Explanation of more use cases in publications is still to come in the future.


How do you evaluate the implementation of such an online format in Corona times?

The organizers of online conferences try to make the best of it. The presentations were divided into thematic sessions. In the platform used, it was also possible to communicate directly with others via chat, and in the breaks it was possible to talk spontaneously for a few minutes with a randomly selected person. However, scientific discourse in larger groups online is still a challenge. The time difference makes discussions with participants from the US/Canada, Europe, and Australia/New Zealand at the same time impossible. And it's hard to keep your schedule free for online conferences: unlike physical conferences, you're more tempted to take on the odd appointment.

What aspect of physical conferences do you miss the most?

The personal exchange with colleagues, which takes place in particular away from the technical presentations during the breaks or in the evening program. This is often when new ideas are developed or new collaborations are started. But we hope that this will be possible again in 2022.