In recognition of his extraordinary achievements in the fields of textile mechanical engineering, textile technology as well as textile chemistry and surface modification of textile semi-finished products, Prof. Paul Kiekens was awarded the title of Doctor honoris causa (Dr.-Ing. h.c.) on April 5, 2023. He has implemented a unique platform by founding a European research network for universities specialized in textile teaching and research.
Kiekens was a university professor at Ghent University, Belgium, for almost 35 years and thus responsible for textile-oriented education and research. Intensive interaction with European business and science was always particularly important to him.
Immediately after the fall of the Berlin Wall, he opened the way for international cooperation in teaching and research in the field of textile mechanical engineering, textile technologies, and textile chemistry for the only Eastern European university research institution with a textile orientation, the ITM (formerly ITB) at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering of TU Dresden, and provided great and uncomplicated support. A close, lasting and intensive relationship developed, which had a trend-setting influence on the scientific career of Kiekens. This was reflected above all in the expert advice given for major projects.
As early as the 1990s, Kiekens had the vision of creating a European network for universities in textile teaching and research. In 1994, the Association of Universities for Textiles (AUTEX) was founded with the aim of establishing teaching and research in the field of textile technology at an internationally respected level through joint concepts. Due to the prevailing cooperation at that time between Kiekens and Prof. Peter Offermann, the TU Dresden, represented by the Institute of Textile Machinery and High Performance Material Technology (ITM), has been a full member and decisively integrated in the network since its foundation on July 1, 1994. Thus Kiekens has significantly promoted the international cooperation of the TU Dresden, Faculty of Mechanical Engineering with international university textile research institutions.
Kiekens was executive coordinator of AUTEX until his retirement. The internationally renowned symposium takes place annually as a part of AUTEX.