BARKA The Department of Sustainable Tourism and Regional Development (STRD) of GUtech has announced today morning the upcoming Oman Tourism Forum (OTF), to be held on Wednesday 26 February from 9am-4pm at GUtech in Halban.
OTF will be held for the first time and inaugurated under the auspices of H.E. the Undersecretary of the Ministry Tourism. The one-day Oman Tourism Forum will invite stakeholders from the private and public sector. “Oman Tourism Forum is a very special event for our university. Our STRD students had the idea to realize this Forum,” said Dr. Juergen Werner, Deputy-Rector for Academic Affairs at GUtech.
The forum is also held to mark the celebrations of the Arab Tourism Day on the 25 February – commemorating the birth date of the Arab Traveler Ibn Battuta and aiming to create more awareness about the rich Arab history in travel and hospitality. The Arab Tourism Day was launched last year in initiative of the Arab Tourism Organization.
Prof. Dr. Heba Aziz, Head of the STRD Department at GUtech and President of OTF introduced the Forum to the media: “Our aim is to establish a platform for a fruitful discussion amongst all stakeholders on the role this strategic sector for socio-economic development of Oman. The tourism industry benefits the entire economy and different sectors such as the food industry, transportation and others,” she said while adding: “The students were very convincing in attracting important stakeholders to support their initiative. They also designed the logo of the Forum and came up with the different themes, and identified measures in which their event could benefit the local community,” said Prof. Heba.
OTF has been organized by eight 4th year STRD students as part of their event management course. “We contacted the public and private sector and fundraized for the Forum. During our studies we have a number of different subjects including event management course, which is part of our 4th year study-programme,” said Ala Al Habsi, GUtech STRD student. For her and her study-colleagues creating awareness is the main goal. “We wish to create more awareness about tourism studies and the tourism industry in Oman. Here at GUtech a few students are currently studying tourism. Tourism needs all different stakeholders, not only the Ministry of Tourism,” said Ala. The students came-up with the idea to design special conference bags working with a small women group in Sifah. The bags are made of traditional Omani textiles and will be distributed on the day of the conference.
The Oman Tourism Forum (OTF) is open to all interested individuals and organisations and revolves around three main themes: visions and strategies, tourism operations, projects and enterprises and research and innovations. Papers presented will cover the Oman tourism strategy by the ministry of tourism; the main tourism indicators presented by the National Center for Statistics and Information, the reality of tourism employment by the ministry of manpower.
In addition the forum will also include a session on the most recent tourism research conducted in Oman: A study on “The experiences and expectations of Omani tourism students” will be presented as well research on “Tourism careers: perception and expectations of Omani tourism students” and the Oman Tourist Atlas will be presented. In the opening session Nabil Al Busaidy, adventurer and traveller, who was the first Arab and Omani to climb Mount Everest and to row the Atlantic, will give a motivational speech entitled “Discover the journey”.
The STRD Department is grateful for the generous support of The Research Council (TRC), Ithraa (previously, the Public Authority for Investment Promotion and Export Development), Omran, the National Ferry Company, Naseej Oman and Al Roya publishing. This diverse range of sponsors is only reflective of all the sectors that the tourism industry can impact.
Registration is free of charge, for further details please visit the website www.gutech.edu.om or please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
To enhance geometrical thinking, students of GUtech have built a large paper tetrahedron (pyramid shape) in the amphitheater of the university within the past weeks. Around 60 students of the Foundation Year and the Bachelor of Science programs as well as staff members participated in this special mathematical activity that may best be illustrated by one composed of many, in Latin “e pluribus unum”.
“With this special class we would like to introduce a new way of geometrical thinking. It is new to most students and has not been taught earlier at high school,” said Professor Dr. Florian Rupp of the Department of Mathematics and Science at GUtech who initiated the activity. The about two meter high tetrahedron sponge, called fractal, was constructed of 1012 small tetrahedrons. “These fractals are similar to what we see in our everyday lives, for example in rivers, mountains, cauliflowers but as well in rocks,” said Professor Florian. A fractal is a geometric object which is constructed from a “simple” initial shape and arranged to form self-similar patterns across different scales and with fractal dimensions. To most of the students this task was new. “We are studying in the Foundation Year, Applied Geosciences. I think these fractals are similar to the fractals we see in rocks and minerals,” said Fatma Al Farsi, GUtech student.
Many students think that geometry can only be taught in class and on the white board, which becomes very boring after some time. “We would like to enhance their spatial thinking and encourage them to think in a playful and easy way, so that they also forget that they are doing geometry,” said Prof. Florian Rupp who recently joined the Department of Mathematics and Science. He previously worked at the renowned Technical University of Munich (Germany). The head of the Department of Mathematics and Science strongly supported this new and very smart way of teaching: “It brings the most effective recent discoveries of teaching to Oman,” said Prof. Dr. Bernhard Heim, Dean of Science. The GUtech students were surprised that high advanced mathematics can be so exciting and applied, they are looking forward to more mathematics classes.
GUtech held the Second Graduation Ceremony at its campus in Halban on Sunday 29 December evening.
H.E. Maitha Al Mahrooqiyah, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Tourism, H.E. Abdullah Salim Al Salmi, member of the board of Governors at GUtech, H.E. Mr. Abdulla Nasser Al Rahbi, Ambassador at the Permanent Mission of the Sultanate of Oman to the United Nations Office and other international organizations in Geneva, H.E. Hans-Christian Freiherr von Reibnitz, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to the Sultanate, Mr Ahmed Saleh Al Marhoon, Director General of the Muscat Securities Market, members of the Majlis Al Shura and other dignitaries attended the ceremony in the open-air amphitheater of the GUtech campus.
A total of 46 Bachelor of Science students graduated in Urban Planning and Architectural Design, Applied Geosciences and Computer Sciences this summer. The large majority has already found positions in the private and public sector in Oman and some of them are pursuing their master’s degree abroad, e.g. in Germany or in the UK. “Studying at GUtech is not an easy task, but one that is ultimately worth the time, hard work and effort you have put into your studies. We are immensely proud of your achievements, and wish you the success you deserve,” said Professor Dr. Michael Modigell, Rector of GUtech. The Rector further stressed: “You are prepared to find positions where you are able to enjoy your work and where can contribute to the welfare of the Omani society.”
Dr. Hussain Al Salmi, Vice-Rector for Administration and Finance, mentioned in his speech that most of the graduates have witnessed the early days of GUtech - the GUtech beach campus in Al Athaiba, the relocation to the airport campus and now the final campus in Halban. Although the Halban Campus has received several architectural awards recently he stressed, that the building is not as important as the students and their knowledge acquired. “Education is the passport to the future, and not to the good life only but to change the world to be better,” said Dr. Hussain Al Salmi.
MUSCAT A team of GUtech students, graduates and professors of the Department of Urban Planning and Architectural Design, have designed and planned a pioneering energy-efficient prototype for a residential Ecohouse villa. The start of the construction of the GUtech EcoHaus has been celebrated at the GUtech campus in Halban on Wednesday, 9 October, under the auspices of H.E. Sheikh Abdullah Salim Al Salmi, member of the Board of Governors and the Board of Directors of GUtech and H.E. Hans-Christian Freiherr von Reibnitz, German Ambassador to the Sultanate. About one hundred guests, GUtech students, staff, representatives of companies that donate materials and services as well as members of the construction sector community attended the celebration.
"Saving energy is an issue all around the world. Eco houses have become a standard in Germany now. And today we can witness the construction of the first of its kind being built in Oman. The project links German expertise and Omani building traditions, it brings local products to the forefront as well as German and European companies showing their innovations." said H.E. Freiherr von Reibnitz, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to the Sultanate of Oman.
The design is based on a student project, and was carried out to professional level with the help of professors, graduates, consultants, and companies. "The EcoHaus project shows GUtech`s idea of a university. We always want to find links between teaching, research, and making, and here is an excellent example for such a project." said Prof. Modigell, Rector of GUtech.
The EcoHouse uses different strategies to reduce the demand for energy, to generate its own electricity supply, and to further reduce the embedded energy in materials, water, and planting. This set of strategies, which can be transferred to any other project in Oman, consists of: compact volume, optimal orientation, natural ventilation, protective envelope, thermal zoning, radiant cooling, recovered energy, efficient appliances, solar power, recyclable materials, natural water treatment, and native plants.
"After a year of planning, it is great to now see the building growing day by day. This progress of the site is a common achievement by everyone involved: consultants, companies, contractor, craftsmen, The Research Council, GUtech, and of course our students. Only through having all these parties on board we can make the project work." said Assoc. Prof. Nikolaus Knebel, team leader of the EcoHaus project at GUtech. "The project is on schedule, and even though the project involves trying out new ways of building, we are optimistic to finish the building in time, because we have established a good working relation between the contractor, Rownak al A`asma, GUtech staff and students, and companies which are donating material for the project," said Daniel Jung of New Innovative Technologies and construction manager for the EcoHaus.
"We were part of the student group that did the initial design for the EcoHaus in the class of Assoc. Prof. Martin Werminghausen. Since then we could experience at first-hand the planning and construction progress. Throughout the last semester break we did an internship with the team, and also have regular site visits to learn from the project happening on our campus." says Amna al Shaji, BSc-Student in Urban Planning and Architectural Design . "Since last year the two of us are working full-time on the EcoHaus. We develop the design further, plan details, manage budgets, organize materials, and present the project at many occasions around Oman. It is a great opportunity and we are given a lot of responsibility. Working on the EcoHaus project is a great start into our professional careers." said Rumana al Othmani and Rowa el Zain, graduates from GUtech`s Urban Planning and Architectural Design programme.
The project leading to this result has received Project Grant Funding from the Research Council of the Sultanate of Oman. It further has received generous support from companies giving material donations, and their services: Saif Engineering Consultancy, Bauer Nimr, Rehau, Mywindows, Caparol. Hoehler & Partner, National Company for Natural Decore Stone LLC, Amiantit, Oman Concrete Products LLC, ReadyMixMuscat, BASF, DOKA, GulfPerlite, Conlux, ADGS, Oman Cables, New Innovative Technologies, Rownak al A`asma. "Only with companies developing and offering new products, and presenting them to the market, there will be progress in the building culture, and quality of architecture. We are grateful to the companies that sponsor us and the EcoHaus is a good platform to present innovative products to the construction sector. This is dearly needed," said Assoc. Prof. Nikolaus Knebel.
During the two earthquakes that occurred recently in the region of Balochistan in Pakistan, a rather unusual phenomenon occurred - an island was created. “This is not unusual and happened in the past as well,“ said Professor Dr. Goesta Hoffmann of the Department of Applied Geosciences at GUtech, who is currently conducting scientific research on the coastal evolution in Oman and has published his findings in several scientific papers in various journals. Prof. Goesta further explained: “There is scientific evidence, that as a consequence of an earthquake in India and Pakistan in December 1945, three islands off the coast of Pakistan, in Gwadar, appeared. However, that time the island disappeared soon after they were created. It only took a couple of weeks for the waves to wash away the fine-grained material. Similar to last week’s earthquakes, in 1945 gas eruptions close to the islands were noticed. Two more islands appeared in the Ormara west bay. The islands were up to 30 m high and 2.5 km long,” said Prof. Goesta.
According to Prof. Dr. Wiekert Visser, Head of Petroleum Geosciences at GUtech, the creation of the new island off the Baluchistan coast signifies a fault movement in the sea, which has already happened many times in the past million years. “The new island in front of the Balushi coast turns-out to be a mud volcano emanating methane. This explains the large uplift and the slow movement. However, to further comment on that movement, we need further scientific data,” he said.
The earthquakes can be explained by the movement of the continents. Earthquakes may occur in the region surrounding the Arabian Peninsula since the plate is moving relatively to Africa and Asia. “The Arabian Plate is surrounded by spreading and subduction zones, in the Red Sea and along the Zagros mountains respectively. Earthquakes always begin at a place within Earth where rocks move against other rocks along a fault. The place with the largest movement along the fault is called the epicenter,” said Prof. Wiekert. A fault is a surface along which rocks have broken and then moved further on. There they produce seismic waves. The earthquake epicenter is usually within the Earth’s mantle and crust.
Plates carry continental and/or oceanic crust with them. The movement of these plates is known as plate tectonics. The earth has 15 different plates, and the Arabian plate is one of them. Continents have been on the move all the time. “When continents move, they cause all kind of stresses,” said Prof. Wiekert. “An average plate moves around 5 centimeters per year. The earth consisted of one super continent only 250 million years ago. This “Pangea” continent fell apart into the plates carrying our current multitude of continents. Projections are that we will have one single continent again after another 200 million years,” said Prof. Wiekert. Within the past 60 million years India together with Pakistan and Bangladesh has been moving about 5000 km northward, towards Asia, creating the Himalayan mountains. “Mountains are made when continents collide,” said Prof. Wiekert.
In the 1960s geologists created the scientific concept of plate movements. Preceding this German meteorologist Alfred Wegener already proposed continental drift, but his ideas were not accepted at that time.
If you have further questions, please contact Prof. Wiekert Visser: email@example.com or Prof. Goesta Hoffmann: firstname.lastname@example.org
© GUtech/Manuela Gutberlet
MUSCAT The city of Shanghai has honoured Professor Dr. Rudolf Fleischer with a Magnolia Silver Award for his contributions to the city’s development and exchange with foreign countries in September.
Prof. Fleischer is Head of the Department of Computer Science and Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science at the German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) and is still affiliated with Fudan University in Shanghai where he had worked for seven years prior to joining GUtech in 2011. Prof. Fleischer is an expert in Algorithms. “I am honoured to receive this prestigious award. Shanghai is a very dynamic and innovative city with many excellent universities, Fudan University is ranked no. 3 in China,” said Prof. Fleischer.
“Shanghai has become one of the places in the country with the highest number of foreign nationals and the most active international exchange,” said Li Mingjun, Secretary-General of the Shanghai Municipal Foreign Affairs Office, in his introduction.
A total of 53 foreigners of 17 different countries working in science and technology, education, economy, trade and finance received a 2013 Shanghai Magnolia Silver Award, among them top-managers of German international companies such as Thyssen Krupp, Siemens, Bayer and Boehringer Ingelheim. Silver award winners are eligible to receive a Magnolia Gold Award in the future. “The wisdom and hard work of our international friends have contributed to the sustained growth, and their contribution and friendship shall always be remembered by the people of Shanghai,” said Li Mingjun.
© GUtech/Manuela Gutberlet
Caption: Prof. Dr. Rudolf Fleischer received the Magnolia Silver Award of the city of Shanghai last Tuesday
GUtech has started its academic year with an Orientation Day in English for students new to GUtech, entering the Academic Foundation Programme or the Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Engineering programmes end of September. The Deputy-Rector for Academic Affairs, Dr. Juergen Werner welcomed the seventh batch of GUtech students in English, Arabic and German. “I have the pleasure to welcome you at our university and to our GUtech family. Studying at our university, you made a good choice for quality higher education. GUtech is affiliated with one of the leading universities in Europe, RWTH Aachen University, an affiliation which guarantees high standard university education. In the coming years GUtech will be a part of your life and very challenging for you. We expect you to work hard and study well for a bright future of yourselves and your country,” said Dr. Juergen.
The induction day is an introduction to the new study environment. Ghaida Al Qatan and Salama Al Salumi are new students at GUtech, they both received a scholarship from Salalah Methanol to study BEng in Environmental Engineering. “I like Mathematics and am concerned about the environment,” said Ghaida, who is convinced that she will learn a lot at GUtech. “GUtech is one of the best universities in Oman,” she said.
The full-day GUtech orientation day continued with presentations of senior students about academic life and student life at GUtech. Senior Computer Science student Taha Al Qasmi spoke about the importance of team work: “We should support each other during our studies. Together we achieve more,” he said. The introduction to Academic Life was followed by a guided tour around the university campus. Senior GUtech students showed the new students the IT laboratories, the design studios, the sports hall, the canteen, the accomodation and the GUtech library in the upper floor. In the afternoon the students received more information on the Student Council, student activities such as trips, charity events etc. as well as further information on studying the German language and trips to Germany.
GUtech has an active student body with many activities such as a chess club, participation in the cancer walkathon, the National Day Celebrations and the Muscat Youth Summit. Furthermore, a GUtech Student Council is elected every year which includes student representatives of each study-programme.
GUtech is affiliated with RWTH Aachen University, one of the leading Universities of Technology in Europe. For many years employers in Germany have been ranking RWTH Aachen University as the best university in Germany. GUtech offers an Intensive English Programme, a Foundation Programme and Bachelor of Science programmes in Applied Geosciences, Applied IT, Urban Planning and Architectural Design as well as Bachelor of Engineering programmes in Mechanical Engineering, Process Engineering and Environmental Engineering as well as a MSc programme in Petroleum Geoscience. All Bachelor of Science programmes are internationally accredited. The language of tuition at GUtech is English.
© GUtech/Manuela Gutberlet
The Deputy-Rector for Academic Affairs, Dr. Juergen Werner welcomed the seventh batch of GUtech students in English, Arabic and German.
GUtech senior students introduced the new students to the university
The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) has awarded 15 Omani and international students of GUtech with three week study-scholarships for RWTH Aachen University in Germany. RWTH Aachen University is GUtech’s German parent-university. The Omani and international students and two GUtech staff members will travel to Germany next Sunday. In the mornings they will study German at RWTH Aachen’s Language Centre and in the afternoons they will participate in a cultural programme that includes excursions with German students to neighbouring countries the Netherlands and Belgium and to other German cities like Cologne and Düsseldorf as well as an Omani evening will be included in the programme.
The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) is one of the world’s largest and most respected intermediary organizations in the field of academic exchange. Every year the organization sponsors about 60,000 foreign and German academics.
The 15 GUtech students were chosen out of a large number of applicants of different study-programmes. They had to apply with a letter of motivation that was followed by an interview. “We want the students to be Ambassadors of our university when they travel to Germany,” said Dr. Jurgen Werner, Deputy Rector for Academic Affairs at GUtech. For many students this is their first trip to Germany. The study-trip will help the students to get to know more about life in Germany, experience the classroom situation in GUtech’s German parent-university and to learn more about their department at RWTH Aachen University.
GUtech promotes study and research exchange with RWTH Aachen University and other universities in Europe. Most of the GUtech students travel to Germany or to another European country at least once during their studies. GUtech offers German as an elective in the Foundation Year and as a mandatory course for all BSc or BEng students in their first 2 years.
RWTH Aachen University is located in the centre of the city of Aachen, close to Cologne and Düsseldorf. The university is one of the leading Universities of Technology in Europe and renown for Engineering and IT. Currently about 35,000 students are enrolled at RWTH Aachen University.
RWTH Aachen University – Main Building. RWTH Aachen University is GUtech’s German parent-university. From next week onwards, a group of 15 GUtech students will attend a three weeks language and culture course at the university.
Students and staff members of the GUtech were awarded for their sports achievements and their volunteer engagement in the university’s sports and recreation progamme. “We have awarded the GUtech male football team for their achievements in the latest Interuniversity Futsal Tournaments and the GUtech female basketball team, who achieved the 3rd place in the SQU basketball tournament this semester. On the tournament the team succeeded a historical win against the SQU basketball team,” said Gunhild Pfaff, Sports Officer at GUtech.
“With our sports activities on campus, we want to create awareness about the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle. Sports are an integral part of our lives. In order to excel in the studies and at work, it is imperative to exercise on a regular basis. At the same time, we wish to thank all our volunteer staff and students who share their skills and promote a healthy lifestyle,” said Professor Dr. Michael Modigell, Rector of GUtech.
A total of 14 staff and students have been engaged as trainers, sports coordinators or club presidents in the GUtech sports and recreation programme. Thanks to a number of staff and students volunteers, GUtech has offered more than 15 sports, fitness and recreational activities on a regular weekly basis, such as football, basketball, Zumba, aerobics, functional training, walking and hiking in the last year. In addition, GUtech offers a number of weekend activities, organized in cooperation with different private organizations, such as Oman Sail for sailing courses and Muscat Diving and Adventure for outdoor climbing and canyoning. “We wish to encourage more and more students in the coming semester to join our sports activities, so that we can elaborate our different sports programs and participate again in upcoming inter-university tournaments and competitions,” said Gunhild.
A group of 3rd year students in Applied Geosciences went together with two of their Geosciences professors for training to Spain and France for two weeks. The Department of Applied Geosciences of GUtech has been successfully conducting the excursion for the third year.
The GUtech students and their professors stayed for ten days in Aliaga, a small village in the Aragon province in the center of Spain. “The students had to make a small geological map of a part of the area. They worked all day in groups of two, walking in the mountains, the forest and having their lunch outside,” said Professor Dr. Bas den Brok, Head of the Department of Applied Geosciences at GUtech.
The area is very famous among geologists and a good location for preparing Bachelor students for their future careers in geosciences. “This is one of the best places in Europe to teach students. Many universities around the world are conducting the mapping courses there,” said Professor Dr. Celine Ducassou, Assistant Professor at the Department of Applied Geosciences of GUtech.
"We want to prepare students for an MSc in Geosciences abroad in Europe and USA. This means that they need to learn and understand what it means to work outside in a cold climate - in the rain, cold wind blowing in your face and in a completely different environment with people that do not speak English and where it is difficult or even impossible to find halal meat and a mosque nearby,” said Professor Bas.
The students stayed in different locations, in small and simple old-style European apartments or cheap hotels or a camping place with only basic bathroom facilities. “The students also had to cook for themselves. They need to see how all this works. They need to understand what kind of work-outfit they need to wear in order to be able to work in the mountains in Europe, which includes to find out what are suitable mountain boots or backpack, and how to keep your fingers warm. We had the luck that new snow fell during our stay. For some students this was the first time to experience snow, they had to walk and work in the snow. Some of the students compared their stay with a marine training camp." said Prof. Bas.
The group also went for a field-excursion to the French Pyrenees and stayed in Bagneres de Luchon and in Cap de Creus in Catalonia. “We showed the students geological features that you cannot see in Oman and are very spectacular for that area, like the shear zones, refolded folds and granites,” said Prof. Celine.
Before flying back to Muscat, the Geosciences group visited Barcelona. The students had planned the visit of the city during a project management course at GUtech. "That was their free day. But whereas we had hoped the students would have visited the University of Barcelona and the many interesting cultural and historical sites, they preferred to visit Camp Nou, the FC Barcelona football stadium and then went shopping", added Prof. Bas and smiled.
© GUtech/ Manuela Gutberlet
GUtech has recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with 57 universities around the world to create the World Forum of Universities of Resources on Sustainability (WFURS). In the Sultanate and around the world the growing population, globalization and industrialization along with a steady improvement of the living standards have dramatically increased the demand in natural resources. “All member universities consider it necessary that knowledge about sustainable mining should be propagated, provided on a global scale, harmonized and networked. Through the MoU GUtech and all other universities will be part of a permanent international platform in mining sciences and work together for a sustainable future in the mining sector,“ said Professor Dr. Burkhard Rauhut, Rector of GUtech.
The Sultanate of Oman is rich in raw materials. “Copper, chromite, manganese, gypsum, limestone for cement and ornamental stones, like marble are amongst the most important raw materials in Oman. They are extracted all over Oman,” said Professor Dr. Bas den Brok, Head of the Department of Applied Geosciences at GUtech. "The Bachelor students in Applied Geosciences learn about mineral exploration, about how to find new mineral resources, but also about environmental issues and environmental damages caused by mining. The mineral and mining sector in Oman has a great future. Underground mining will become increasingly important. For sustainable, environmental-friendly mining highly qualified mining engineers will be needed in the near future”, said Professor Bas.
Nowadays the mining industry faces many challenges, not only in securing additional raw material supplies to satisfy the growing demand, but also to ensure that this is done in an economically priced, environmentally friendly and safe manner. “Environmental sustainability in mining also means that the local people living around the mines should profit from the mining activity next door, for example by the creation of new jobs and new industries working with the raw materials, like making gypsum plates and bricks next to the gypsum mines,” said Professor Bas.
The Department of Applied Geosciences is currently carrying out a research study on chromite mining in Oman. “The question of sustainability is best pursued through a comprehensive and multifaceted approach. The economic integrity of a mining development is best ensured through the full utilisation of the product value chain. Primary and secondary exploits that are processed obtain higher prices on the market and can also generate new niche industries,” said Mishal Al Riyami, Mining Engineer and Scientific Researcher at GUtech. “In our current research we propose excavation strategies as well as build geo-terrestrial models. We combine them with best practices to insure greatest cost-effectiveness whilst minimising the environmental impact,” said Mishal Al Riyami.
According to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry in Oman around 34 companies were engaged in the exploration and development of Oman`s natural mineral resources in 2011. The number includes several companies that operate quarries and crushers catering primarily to the construction industry.
At GUtech the students are educated according to international standards of sustainability. “It is important that our students learn sustainable practices as some of our graduates will work in the mining sector,” said Professor said Professor Dr. Goesta Hoffmann, Associate Professor of the Department of Applied Geosciences at GUtech. As a result of the MoU the signing universities of the WFURS will form working groups and promote cooperation between the universities and thus further develop the sustainability concept in cooperation with the private and government sector. Ends
© GUtech/Manuela Gutberlet
Gabbro quarry near Sohar – © GUtech –Dep. Of Applied Geosciences
Marble Quarry in Northern Oman –© GUtech – Dep. Of Applied Geosciences
Four students of the Department of Applied Geosciences of GUtech recently conducted internships at the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research in Leipzig and at the University of Erlangen. The internships - for two months - were arranged by GUtech in cooperation with the two Research Institutions. “Both institutions are excellent research institutes. We are very happy that four of our BSc students got the opportunities to do internships there to gain valuable experiences for their future,” said Prof. Dr. Michaela Bernecker, Associate Professor at the Department of Applied Geosciences of GUtech.
The Carbonate Laboratory of the University of Erlangen is one of the internship locations. The research laboratory is internationally renown for its large so-called thin-section collection. “After a short introduction, we prepared over 30 thin-sections,” said Yasmeen Al-Shaqsi, 6th semester Applied Geosciences (AGEO) who conducted the internship along with her study-colleague Maha Al-Rawahi, AGEO 8th semester.
During their two months stay at the University of Erlangen they worked with different nationalities and on different sedimentological projects. “We worked on small projects that were related to different geological ages: the Holocene, Middle Devonian and Silurian. In the mornings we usually went to the laboratory where we were given our tasks for the day, then we worked on the task and tried to finish them by the end of the day,” said Yasmeen. “I was working in an enjoyable environment. There were three PhD students from Germany, Poland and Czech Republic. My job was to prepare for them thin sections or to pick some fossils under the microscope,” said Maha. Beside their work at the research laboratory they also had the opportunity to discover other places. “After seven weeks of internship went on a four-days field trip to the Czech Republic, around the capital Prague. There we visited geological outcrops that were in a way related to some of the work we did on the small projects and we got to visit Prague city and learn about some of its history,” said Yasmeen.
Zeena Al-Namaani and Areej Al-Ghaithy, both 6th semester AGEO students conducted their internships at the German Research Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) in Leipzig.
“Our internship was about infiltration in wadi channels. I was working on the initial condition of the water table and the soil moisture in so-called homogeneous and heterogeneous materials. At the beginning I started my internship with reading a lot of research papers about infiltration, groundwater recharge and effects of wadi floods. Then I worked on models using (Hydrus 1D) software,” said Zeena Al-Namaani.
Zeena’s study-colleague Areej Al-Ghaithi said: “I have also tried my own research related to the setting of the wadis in Oman (specifically Wadi Al Khoudh in Muscat). I also went on a field-trip to place some tracers into a river which I found quite fascinating. This internship was a preparation for what is to come next in my bachelor thesis as this is the field I plan to write my bachelor thesis,” said Areej, who would like to come back to Germany and persue her Master’s there. “I must say it is quite flexible and really good. During my internship I was able to interact with different professors and students. It was multicultural,” said Areej who enjoyed the overall responsibilities given to her. “The environment gave me a sense of independence and responsibility. Everybody was responsible to the tasks they were given, but we could help each other,” she said.
All four GUtech students enjoyed their research stay in Germany. “I love the life in Germany. I would never choose another place to continue my master studies and my PhD - inshallah. Germany is a very nice country. I do miss home but regardless, every time I come here I like it even more,” said Areej while remembering that it was difficult for her to understand why she had to study German in the beginning of her studies: “I used to complain to why we would have to learn German but now I understand. I am actually practicing my German with friends that I have made here. I am also able to communicate when I want something in a store, a supermarket or in a restaurant. My German has improved and I am able to practice my language skills every time I visit Germany,” she said.
The Geosciences students admit that the opportunity of conducting an internship abroad and at a renown research institute has shaped their personalities. “I believe this internship has helped me grow as an individual. It helped me become more responsible and independent. I have also learnt how I have to behave during the work-field and how different it is from when you are studying at university or at school. I also think that whoever has a chance to do their internships abroad should be encouraged to do it, because I find it quite different to when you are in Oman and staying in your "comfort zone", concluded Areej.
Areej in the office of the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research in Leipzig, she is measuring on the computer the depth of the soil layer from the top of the ground surface
Zeena Al Namaani in the office of the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research in Leipzig, reading research papers
Maha and Yasmeen during their work in the carbonate laboratory of the university of Erlangen
Yasmeen during her work at the carbonate laboratory of the University of Erlangen
With increased internet usage, cyber security is becoming more important for everyone, since many people are not aware of it. “There are three types of malware: viruses, worms and Trojan horses. But internet security is not only about protecting your machine from malware, hackers can also sniff your data, which means that the hackers can listen to your communication with another machine. Other attacks include spoofing, mapping, and hijacking,” said Dr. Nabil Sahli, Associate Professor at the Department of Applied Information Technology at the German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech), where he is currently teaching a course on Secure Distributed Systems and other subjects.
A survey by the Ponemon Institute conducted last year among companies in the US suggests that more than half of the respondents (59 percent) had two or more security breaches in the past twelve months, and ten percent did not know. Ninety percent of the organizations in the study had at least one attack. The study was conducted to determine what IT and IT security practitioners in the US think about how well their organizations are responding to threats against network security. A total of 583 IT and IT security practitioners in the US participated, more than half (51 percent) were employed by organizations with more than 5,000 employees. The results of the survey suggest that most organizations experience regular hacking attacks. The financial consequences can be severe. When asked to consider the costs of the security breaches, 41 percent of respondents estimated them at $500,000 or more.
Some cyber attacks are detrimental to the computer services and entire businesses. "Some hackers may take control of your and many other machines to conduct a Denial of Service attack –which makes the target computers unavailable for normal business- against high-profile web servers such as banks and credit card gateways,” said Dr. Nabil. A virus mainly attacks the software of a single computer. “You may activate a virus when you open an email with a suspicious attached file. A virus may also attack your hardware, but these attacks are rare. A worm is like a virus but more devastating as it is self-activating and self-duplicating,” said Dr. Nabil. Another kind of attack is a so-called spyware attack. “Some web companies are sending programs to spy on their users. A spyware will collect data about you but will not harm you,” said Dr. Nabil.
“Up-to-date anti-virus software and anti-spy software can prevent most cyber attacks. Firewalls, which can be software or hardware based, are used to secure but also to control internet access. Firewalls may be used by parents and companies to prevent their kids or employees from accessing certain websites, for example,” said Dr. Nabil. According to a recently published survey, malware is more and more spreading through social networks such as facebook and twitter.
To increase overall IT security, internet behavior is important. “You need to regularly install and update the latest anti-virus programs and you should also choose a “strong” password and not use short or easy ones such as your wife’s name.” The expert advises: “As we are all inter-connected, you have to be careful to prevent any cyber attacks, but it also depends on the behavior of the community you are linked to. Your friends may unknowingly spread a virus, worm or spyware to your computer or mobile phone,” said Dr. Nabil.
© GUtech/Manuela Gutberlet
Caption: Dr. Nabil Sahli, Associate Professor at the Department of Applied IT