Save Water – The World Water Day celebrated at GUtech

HALBAN According to the motto “Save Water for Future Generations” the World Water Day was celebrated at GUtech under the auspices of H.E. Ali bin Mohammed Al Abri, Undersecretary at the Ministry of Regional Municipalities and Water Resources. Dr. Hussain Al Salmi, Deputy-Rector for Administration and Finances at GUtech addressed the audience in his welcome speech, while pointing out the importance of water for our lives and for the economy of the country. Therefore, it is important to use water wisely and to save if for future generations. GUtech has initiated various awareness campaigns and research projects to generate more knowledge about saving water. GUtech’s Department of Applied Geosciences recently signed an agreement with Wageningen University in the Netherlands to conduct joint research on harvesting rainwater while preventing flash floods in Oman. In order to mitigate climate change in the region, the project may be extended to reforestation and future agriculture projects.

The World Water Day event at GUtech was accompanied by an exhibition including various private companies and government institutions dealing with water. Water optimizing equipment, an art and photography exhibition and school and university students’ projects were displayed.

According to the Public Authority for Electricity and Water who was among the exhibitors at GUtech, the water production in Oman rose by around 6 % to more than 300 million m3 in 2015 compared to the previous year. Around 80 % of the water produced in the country comes from desalination plants in Al Gubrah, Barka, Sohar and Sur. In addition, there are small desalination plants in eight governorates. Around 20% of the water comes from wells in rural areas in the Interior of the country. Currently, there is no surface water in Oman. However, work is underway to bring water supplies from the Wadi Dayqah Dam to the capital area.

Megalodon team prepares for Shell eco-marathon

SINGAPORE The Megalodon team from GUtech is preparing their car named ‘Diesel Meister’ for the Shell eco-marathon Asia 2017 at the Changi Exhibition Center in Singapore. A seven-member student team participates in the diesel category. GUtech participates for the third time in the Eco-marathon. For the first time Al Shifa Al Hadi, an Omani female Computer Science student will drive the eco-car. On Saturday the Megalodon team successfully passed the inspections.

Last year, after passing all technical checks the students drove a specific fuel consumption of 0.6 l per 100 km.

Smart Cities: Facing Future Challenges

BARKA More and more people live in cities worldwide. However, geographical space, food and energy are limited. According to latest research, by 2050 around 9 billion people will live on our planet. Researchers suggest that we would need 6 more planets if we continue with the current lifestyle. How will future cities look like? What are the challenges for so-called smart cities?

On this topic The German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) recently conducted a morning event for a group of students from the French School Muscat. “Generating energy from nature to reduce the CO2 emissions and reducing energy consumption will be important issues for future cities,” said Dr. Oualid Ben Ali, Head of the Training and Smart Solutions Center at GUtech and president of FutureCitiesCouncil.org. He has been researching the topic for many years. During his talk to the students, he referred to smart cities with zero CO2 emissions like Masdar City in Abu Dhabi. Dr Oualid suggested that smart cities will offer many opportunities for new jobs that do not exist today and that students should be open and prepared for these challenges.

”Smart or future cities are expected to host revolutionary solutions for daily life challenges, including health, education, logistics, social problems, and transportation. To address these challenges, the so called ‘Internet of Things’ is attracting increasing attention for its promising capabilities to collect, process, and share data about a wide range of objects and events in timely fashion.” said Dr. Nafaa Jabeur, Head of the Computer Science Department at GUtech. Dr. Nafaa presented a newly developed smart car based on a mobile app and Arduino hardware. He also showed to the students how such tools could be used to create simple and efficient customized solutions to control house appliances.

Towards the end of the morning session, the Urban Planning Department of GUtech asked the students to draw their ideas about future cities, which included ideas on introducing solar and water energy, green houses and more public transportation (pictured).

As part of GUtech’s community engagement, the university offers regular talks on various topics to schools.

Geoscientists sign agreement on Water Research with Dutch University

BARKA The German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) has signed a Letter of Intent on conducting joint research projects in the field of water scarcity with Wageningen University in the Netherlands this week. The signing ceremony was joined by H.E. Barbara Joziasse, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Oman and a delegation of Dutch water experts. The joint agreement was initiated and signed by the Netherlands Oman Foundation of Amsterdam.

The main objective of the agreement is to research practical methods for harvesting rainwater while preventing flash floods in Oman. In future, the project may be extended to reforestation and further agriculture projects, which help mitigate the effects of climate change in the Sultanate of Oman. Wageningen University has been successfully working on various water scarcity projects in Kenya, Mali and Vietnam. “Working with Wageningen University provides us with state-of-the art practical and experimental experience. We can easily introduce the techniques applied in other countries here in Oman and therefore improve our water management capabilities. The overall goal is to slow the rainwater on its way to the sea and to give it some time to filter into the ground,” said Prof. Dr. Ekkehard Holzbrecher, Hydrogeologist at GUtech, Department of Applied Geosciences (AGEO).

“We are thrilled to be part of this partnership. Even though it does not rain in Oman, when it rains it pours. With this project we would like to show that every raindrop counts. Every drop of rain that ends up in the sea and has not been harvested is a wasted drop,” said Dr. Philippe Ker Rault of the Environmental Research Team Water and Food at Wageningen University.

“This cooperation means that the Sultanate creates more capacity and knowledge to harvest rainwater more effectively. The research will add directly to the flash flood prevention and to higher levels of sub soil water reserve depletion. It is then possible to stop desertification and re-cultivate large areas with existing rainfall,” said Peter van Ees, Chairman of the Netherlands Oman Foundation. He added that corporations in Oman and the Netherlands will be given opportunities to financially endorse the project and use their support to their corporate social responsibility.

Eco-marathon car sent to Singapore

The eco-friendly car developed for the Shell Eco-marathon by a team of eight GUtech students was flown to Singapore recently. The team of Engineering and Computer Science students have placed the car inside a special wooden box including some padding. For the third time GUtech will participate in this global competition. The GUtech team will travel to Singapore along with their professors this week. The team is excited to be part of the big event. They have conducted a test drive last week on campus.

For the first time a female student will drive the car. “I was very interested participating in the competition. I was responsible for the software automatic programming of the car.” Said Shifa Al Hadi, 4th year student in Computer Science. The computer programme will improve the car’s efficiency and reduce fuel consumption. “It will mainly focus on sensing and reporting car-related parameters to the driver.” Said Dr. Emmanouil Bouzakis, who has been advising the team on Engineering issues throughout their project. Mr Ali Alhumairi, lecturer at the Computer Science Department at GUtech actively advised Al Shifa about programming and the electronics hardware. The seven team members are very thankful to all their sponsors and supporters throughout the past months. Shell Development Oman, Oman Air, Oman Cables, Europoles Middle East, Engineering Village, Turbo Team and GUtech.

The GUtech ‘Megalodon team’ consists of the following members:

Mohamed Salman (team leader)

Al Shifa Al-Hadi (driver)

Arjawan Al-Hajri

Tejas Janardhan

Adhir Kallingapuram

Navaneeth Sadasivan

Yousef Dak Al Bab

Ayman El Yatmi

Students receive German language certificates from the Goethe Institut

A group of GUtech 15 students has successfully passed the German language certificate, Language Exam A1 of the Goethe Institut, the German Language and Culture Centre. Studying German is part of the curricula at GUtech. “The certificate is the first internationally recognized German language certificate that has been issued by the Goethe Institut,” said Andrea Cornelissen, German lecturer at GUtech and representative of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) in Oman. Students study the language for three semesters. However, the language of tuition at GUtech is English.

GUtech is planning to conduct the German exam on a regular basis. The 90 minutes exam evaluates the speaking, writing and listening skills of students. Some students had the chance to practice their language skills in Germany. “We travelled to Germany last summer to attend the German language course at RWTH Aachen University. We learnt a lot by communicating with other students during sightseeing trips or during the Omani Night that was organized by us on campus,” said Marwa Al Mahrooqi, 3rd year Process Engineering student and Abir Al Ansari, 3rd year Computer Science student. Both wish to persue their further studies in Germany. “I would like to reach a higher level of German and continue my studies or conduct an internship in Germany,” said Marwa. Although English is widely used in international companies and at universities, it is an asset to speak and communicate in German on a daily basis.

GUtech fosters exchange between Germany and Oman, especially through its German partner-university RWTH Aachen University. Each year a large number of GUtech students from various departments participate in language courses, laboratory courses or field-excursions to Germany that usually include RWTH Aachen University. 103,5 million people are German-native speakers in Europe. It is one of the most important languages worldwide and the most spoken language within the European Union. German is the official language in Germany, Switzerland and Austria.

GUtech students finalize their car for the Shell Eco-marathon

BARKA The GUtech team Magalodon is currently preparing for the Asia Shell Eco-marathon to take place between 16-19 March in Singapore. A GUtech team comprising of six Engineering students and one Computer Science student will participate for the third time in the Asian competition that was held in Manila (Philippines) in the last two years. Their newly developed car will to be shipped to Singapore in a few days. Their challenge will be to drive the longest distance while using only 1 l of diesel. The GUtech team will compete in the category prototype diesel, against more than 100 other student teams. There are just a few days left for the training of the conditions. Prior to their departure, the team members and their advising Engineering professor had time to speak about their preparations and the special driving strategy.

“Compared to the past two years many features were improved. The new car is around 30 per cent lighter and it has a transparent cover, which facilitates the driving,” said Mohamed Salman, the team leader. The material of the body and chassis is aluminium and carbon fibre. The students hope that their ideas and inventions can contribute to building lighter and eco-friendlier cars in future.

For the first time an Omani female GUtech student, Al Shifa Al Hadi, will drive the GUtech eco-car. Al Shifa who has been studying Computer Sciences at GUtech has developed a special software that controls the motor and the friction, which are crucial for saving fuel. “Low friction bearings need to be employed. To save fuel during the competition the driver will need to be well-informed, applying the correct driving method where no unnecessary braking or acceleration should be involved. Moreover, the type of petrol is important,” said Dr. Emmanouil Bouzakis of the Department of Engineering at GUtech. Bouzakis advised the team during their preparation for the Eco-Marathon. “Generally diesel is much more efficient than gasoline, but it is causing harmful fine particulate matter emissions,” he said.

Last year, after passing all the technical checks and improving the different features the GUtech students team drove a specific fuel consumption of 0.6 l per 100 km. Around 100 teams participated in the Shell Eco-marathon in previous years, but many failed the inspection tests and therefore were not accepted for the race.

The GUtech Eco-marathon team is sponsored by Oman Air, Oman Cables and Europoles Middle East. Shell Oman and GUtech are also extensively supporting the team.

Why Pursue Graduate Studies? – A Panel Discussion held at GUtech

BARKA Pursuant to the success of its programme of Student Awards for the Advancement of Post-Graduate Education in Oman, Occidental Oman continues its series of Student Seminars to better align the industry needs and the academia on post graduate studies. To answer the question “Why Pursue Graduate Studies?” the first student seminar with speakers from the energy industry, academia and the government took place on 21 February at the German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech).

Prominent key speakers were Steve Kelly, President and General Manager of Oxy Oman, Prof. Dr. Michael Modigell, Rector of GUtech, Dr. Saif A. Al-Hiddabi, Assistant Secretary General for Programs & Scientific Research at The Research Council (TRC) as well as Dr. Fatima Al Hajri, Director of the Graduate Survey at the Ministry of Higher Education, and Maher Al Wahaibi of be’ah, energy company. The panel discussion was moderated by Dyala Sabbagh, Chief Operating Officer of Gulf Intelligence. All panellists brought forward their experience-based knowledge in their respective fields.

“Undergraduate studies give you a solid basis for the job,” said Steve Kelly of Oxy Oman. He stressed that Oxy Oman focuses on training graduates on the job and moulding them according to their industry needs. On the other hand, Prof. Dr. Ing. Michael Modigell mentioned that GUtech educates students to become flexible, independent graduates, who can apply research methods, who know how to tackle problems and how to solve them. To get training on the job all GUtech students have to conduct at least three months internships during their studies. Dr. Saif Al Haddabi stressed that the idea of life-long learning is necessary for creating a knowledge-based economy in Oman, and which links the industry, academia and the government. Dr. Fatima Al Hajri mentioned that the labor market in Oman currently requires mainly Diploma or Bachelor degree holders. Therefore, a phenomenon of ‘over-education’ has been created in some fields in the past years.

This afternoon seminar served as an ideal dialogue platform where students, professors, and representatives from the oil and gas industry and the government met to discuss different opportunities and challenges related to post graduate studies and their subsequent career options for students in Oman and in the region. The next student-centred panel discussion will be held at Sultan Qaboos University in the coming months.

A Young Innovator talk for Generation Z held at the British School Muscat

MUSCAT During an inspiring, motivational talk held at the British School Muscat yesterday Assoc. Professor Basel Dayyani, Department of Computer Science at the Germany University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) encouraged the young school students to think as inventors, creating ideas from an early age onwards, while helping to solve everyday problems. Computer Science is not only about programming but about “how to think” about problems our world is facing, said Prof. Basel Dayyani, during an afternoon talk entitled “The Young Innovator”.

Inventions could be “anything that makes you more comfortable in everyday life. Anything that brings comfort and is easy to use,” he said. “Once you like doing something it becomes fun and you can achieve many things. For example, I love to code with artificial intelligence,” he said. Currently Prof. Basel is involved in many projects such as programming software for Machine Learning as well as for the financial and health sector, e.g. for cancer detection. Professor Basel stressed that technology has become the second nature of the Generation Z, those born after 1997. At the same time it is important to play games, to do sports and to read in order to enhance the production of neurones in our brains and therefore to enhance imagination. “When children play with toys it is not a waste of time.”

Prof Basel Dayyani graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder from the Center of Astrodynamics Research. He is a former NASA scientist. He has worked on mapping the gravity field of Earth at NASA. He also worked in Silicon Valley/ California (USA) and he has over 30 years of experience in the software industry in different engineering fields, working for IBM, Microsoft, Parametric Technology, Synopsys and Unisys. During the talk Prof. Basel showed a short video about the NASA Mars exploration that started in the 1980s; Prof. Basel was part of the initial team that started its research about Mars already around 30 years back.

Looking back on his own work and career path, he had some strong and clear messages for the young innovators in the classroom. To achieve certain goals, patience, hard work and failures are essential. “To train for the World Cup you have to train hard,” he said while adding that failures are important for the entire learning process. “You will fail many times, but the tenth time you will succeed – do not give up. You learn from your failures. Keep on going until you find the solution,” he said, encouraging the students to pursue their ideas.

Prof. Basel Dayyani is teaching Software Engineering and programming at GUtech. The BSc in Computer Sciences at GUtech is a four year programme with a major in Computer Science and a minor in Information Systems.

 

Oman Geological Field Guide launched

Under the auspices of H.E. Ahmed bin Naser Al Mahrizi, Minister of Tourism, the Field Guide to the Geology of Northeastern Oman was officially launched during the Annual General Meeting of the Geological Society of Oman (GSO), held at the Crown Plaza Hotel yesterday. The publication is a joint effort of members of the GSO and the German Geological Society (DGGV). The authors of the 283-pages field guide are Prof. Dr. Gösta Hoffmann of the Departments of Geoscience (GUtech and University of Bonn/Germany), as well as Prof. Dr. Martin Meschede (University of Greifswald/Germany), Dr. Anne Zacke (University of Bonn) and Mohammed Al Kindi, the former president of GSO. The book was published by Borntraeger Science Publisher and is available internationally.

“Oman is like a museum. In Oman you can study the geology like nowhere else in the world. In contrast to many other countries, the rocks are accessible and visible on the surface,” said Prof. Dr. Gösta Hoffmann during his speech yesterday while adding that the geology of Oman is spectacular – for the touristic layman and the geologist alike. Exceptionally well exposed rocks offer a fascinating outcrop experience, second to none. The scenery is unique, and often breathtaking. As the field guide is written in a textbook style and presents the geology in a comprehensible way, a broad understanding is facilitated. Therefore, this book not only addresses geologists but also amateurs, visitors and travellers exploring the beauty and the significance of Oman geology.

The idea to write the field guide was born during Prof Goesta Hoffmann’s and Anne Zacke’s permanent work tenure at the Department of Applied Geosciences at GUtech from 2008 onwards. During numerous field trips and excursions that were conducted with the support of GSO, the geoscientists started to collect rocks. They then set-up a special rock collection at GUtech, comprising around 1500 specimen of rocks. Moreover, a poster entitled ‘Rocks in Oman’ was published a few years back to highlight their characteristics. Because of the extensive number of interesting geological sites in Oman, geologists face difficulties in focusing on a few locations during field trips. “The difficulty always is to decide where not to stop, otherwise you cannot conduct the trip,” said Prof Gösta with a smile.

Patricia Rodrigues from Brazil who is currently a junior intern at the Department of Applied Geosciences at GUtech, attended the book launch. She said: “The most amazing thing in Oman is to see the ophiolites in reality; they do not exist in Brazil. I just read about them.”

The so-called ‘Samail ophiolite’, the former sea floor you can walk on, are mountain ranges, of more than 3000 m altitude, and deeply incised canyons with turquoise-coloured perennial streams, contrast with dry but golden sand deserts. Moreover, coastal areas with kilometres of white beaches are waiting to be discovered.

The geological guidebook has two parts: The first provides a general introduction to the geology of Oman, and enables the reader to put the variety of geological phenomena and observations into a scientific context. The authors emphasise describing the processes that led to the formation of Oman’s rocks and landscapes formed over millennia of Earth history. Following the introductory chapters on archaeology, climate, and vegetation, the geomorphological and geological aspects of Oman are presented.

The second and largest part of the guide consists of meticulous descriptions of 99 excursion points located across the northeast of the country. The authors, have carefully selected the most interesting and important sites. The excursion points can easily be located by their coordinates, or may also be visited using the detailed roadmaps provided for each single outcrop. A large number of colour illustrations, a geological overview map, an index, and a list of references complete the content of the guide.