Elena Burdiel – An international innovation artist with a passion for music and the Nuremberg metropolitan region

December 14, 2020

When Elena Burdiel talks about her work in the Audio Coding & Multimedia Software group at the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS in Erlangen, you immediately notice her enthusiasm and how her eyes light up. It quickly becomes clear that her world revolves (almost) entirely around music and sound. But delving a little deeper reveals that the 29-year-old has many exciting qualities that make her a unique “innovation artist” in the Nuremberg metropolitan region.

Born and raised in Madrid, this amateur musician decided early on that she wanted to turn her passion into her profession. After graduating from high school, Elena attended the Technical University of Madrid, where she received her Bachelor’s in Telecommunication Engineering majoring in sound and image. In December 2014, she joined the Audio and Media Technologies division at Fraunhofer IIS – the ideal place to combine her passion with a career. For over 30 years, the division has been shaping the global standards and technologies used by the audio and film industries. Starting with the creation of mp3 and continuing with the co-development of AAC, almost all electronic communication devices on the market today are equipped with systems and technologies born in Erlangen.

Study or work? - Elena succeeds in both

After some time Elena decided to expand her academic qualifications by embarking on a Master’s in Communications and Multimedia Engineering at the Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg. Her job at Fraunhofer IIS afforded her the flexibility to work while studying part-time. With her Master’s now under her belt, she is still working in the Audio Coding & Multimedia Software group, where she and her colleagues are focusing on developing MPEG-H 3D Audio further. Offering a realistic immersive sound experience, this innovation allows consumers to choose between different audio presets or to adjust the dialogue volume to their own personal preferences. Whether the application is home cinema, smartphones or VR headsets, MPEG-H 3D Audio always delivers the best sound experience possible.

Working in one of the four groups of the Audio department’s at Fraunhofer IIS, Elena’s main focus is on the MPEG-H 3D Audio encoder. The aim is to achieve the best audio reproduction quality possible and to ensure that MPEG-H 3D Audio works perfectly in any situation. Elena spends most of her time at work wearing headphones plugged into a computer, testing and perfecting the encoder. But this still leaves room to work with student interns, which she also very much enjoys. “This is very important to me and I enjoy having contact with students. Fraunhofer IIS is the perfect environment for them – we combine their creativity with our technical expertise,” Elena says.

Bamberg is so nice and cozy

The young Spanish engineer feels very much at home in the Nuremberg metropolitan region. She admits that after the vastness of Madrid, living in Bamberg took some getting used to. But she quickly became very fond of this cozy town in Franconia and loves that she can go jogging in green spaces located almost at her doorstep. And regardless of whether Elena is in the Fichtel Mountains, where she ran a half marathon, or in downtown Nuremberg, she always finds “plenty of interesting things. I’m very attached to this part of the country, and feel at home here.”

When she moved there, Elena was “surprised at how many people in the region play an instrument or are involved in music.” She was delighted, too, as she herself plays several instruments, including bass, guitar and ukulele, either solo or in a band. With such a passion for music, she could not be better suited to working at Fraunhofer IIS, where she especially values the friendly working environment and the support of her colleagues.

Whether she’s participating in projects like the 2018 European Athletics Championships in Berlin or the Eurovision Song Contest – Elena helped ensure viewers of both had the best possible home sound experience – or just having a regular workday at the institute, music and sound remain her passions. This is also reflected in her Master’s thesis being nominated for a prize for women innovators in media technology awarded by German broadcasters ARD and ZDF (ARD/ZDF Förderpreis Frauen + Medientechnologie 2019).

Elena Burdiel – a woman who in countless ways exemplifies the innovation art typical of the Nuremberg metropolitan region.


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