Matthias attended Truro School for one term as part of the German student programme allowing him to put the English learned at school into practical daily use. Matthias recalls how at the time it was rather a shock as he shared a four-bed room with three fellow students, although he remembers them all being great company. Nowadays of course, times have changed and boarders have separate rooms rather than sharing.
He has many fond memories of his time spent at Truro:
“The School had many great facilities and equipment and I was a big fan of the metalwork department and especially Mr Crawford (TS 1983 – 2003), with all his projects, from steam trains to furniture.”
His spell at Truro School was the longest that Matthias had been away from home and he believes that the time spent in Cornwall and the encouragement received from the school inspired and nurtured his interest in trying new things and discovering new places.
“I remember that the School drove curiosity in a very positive way. Support was always there, encouraging us to explore new ideas and places, with Biology field trips, outdoor excursions and sport. I discovered the coastal path around Cornwall and every weekend I would go to new places, wherever public transport would take me: Falmouth, Boscastle and Tintagel – some could be a little challenging with limited bus and train services and no schedules available on the internet, like nowadays.”
After his time at Truro School, Matthias returned to Hanover to complete his ‘Abitur’ (German equivalent of A-levels). He then studied Engineering and Economics in Hanover, Munich and Paris, graduating with two Masters degrees. He continued to travel to many countries for work including South Africa, the US, Australia (including a long drive through the Outback) and even worked as a dive instructor in the Caribbean for a while. He completed a PhD in Engineering Design at Technical University Munich, with a co-supervisor in Cambridge where he spent quite some time, happy to be back in the UK again.
His career has been similarly varied – after completing his PhD he worked for a major vehicle manufacturer, first as an Vehicle Architect. He later ran IT projects and today is Senior Vice President in charge of product strategy and product management at MAN Truck & Bus SE.
“My work focuses on future technologies such as autonomous driving and zero emission drive trains, to make the company future ready for these megatrends.”
Matthias also works ‘as a side-line’ as a lecturer at various universities in Germany, Austria and the US! And if that’s not enough he has also started a small business designing and selling model boat kits: www.microboathobby.com and hopes to devote more time to this business in the future.
Today, Matthias lives in downtown Munich with his Canadian-born wife Monica who he met in dramatic circumstances: “We were on a plane from Miami to Lima, and the plane caught fire mid-air, forcing an emergency landing in Ecuador (no casualties - well done by the pilots at the time - just a rough landing with lots of smoke in the cabin). A forced landing in a small town where most of the hotels were mostly booked meant all people on the plane who were travelling alone were asked to share rooms so that everybody got a bed – and that’s how we met!”
Beyond academia and work, Matthias, unsurprisingly, still loves travel and the outdoors and hopes to return to the coastal path sometime soon. He also wants to progress from small-scale models to working on a larger, life-size project, perhaps restoring a historic car or boat!
Matthias is still in touch with friends made during his time in Cornwall: “Some of my closest friends today date back to Truro School, and we talk often, especially Caroline Fedder and Alexander Wolff (both CO95).”
And Cornwall occupies a special place in his heart: “I still love Cornwall and I have returned many times, in fact often yearly for a holiday and more great hikes and I often pay a visit to the School. I really enjoy a Cornish Cream Tea and I have even found a place in Munich that serves a version.”
We wish Matthias luck and very much look forward to welcoming him to Truro School again on his next visit to beautiful Cornwall where no doubt he will be able to enjoy another ‘proper’ Cornish Cream Tea!