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Why Persue 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.

Prof. Basel Dayyani during is motivational talk at the British School Muscat

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.

 

Prof. Dr. Goesta Hoffmann during his speech - small photo

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.

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Kaizen Learning – An Innovative Teaching Technique Applied at GUtech

The Department of Mathematics and Sciences (MAS) at GUtech has introduced an innovative, student-focused learning technique, entitled Kaizen, usually used in the industry. Prof. Dr. Bernhard Heim, Head of the MAS Department and Dean of the Faculty of Science recently published along with colleagues from GUtech and RWTH Aachen Germany a paper entitled “Driving student-centered calculus: results of a comprehensive case study for Kaizen learning in the Sultanate of Oman”. The Kaizen method can be applied in large mathematics lectures for Engineering, Geosciences, Computer Sciences students. Prof Bernhard was also awarded with the GUtech Ibn Al Haytham Teaching Award 2016.

“Kaizen is a teaching philosophy that is based on short learning units with many feedback loops and continuous testing of the students’ knowledge,” said Prof. Bernhard who has been teaching at GUtech since 2009. “We introduced the teaching method around two years ago and we were glad to receive overwhelmingly positive feedback from our Omani and international students. As a result, the attendance in class has increased to more than 85% since the induction of Kaizen at GUtech,” said Prof. Bernhard while adding that classical forms of memorizing and teaching in front of the students are not applicable anymore. Nowadays students expect the use of multi-media tools, which is a big advantage to enhance the students self-motivation and self-studies. “To overcome the usually used memorizing techniques in our Engineering classes where we teach Mathematics for Engineering the student needs a progression from pure calculus to mathematics, which requires analytical and geometrical skills,” said Prof. Bernhard. To reach high success rates, the Kaizen technique focuses on the continuous human-human interaction between professor and student as well as between assistants and students. Moreover, clearly communicated expectations, avoidance of a short-term learning attitude, a strict no-calculator policy and a balanced combination of traditional teaching and e-learning techniques, through mobile applications or advanced tailored e-learning management software. The e-learning software provides weekly exercises for students. In addition, the students have continuous support by GUtech academic staff who act as mentors and help understand the various assignments. “Such a sustainable learning process through Kaizen guarantees that students are well prepared for their final exams,” said Prof. Bernhard. Moreover, the strict “no calculator policy” in the classroom ensures that students realize that mathematics is about structures, to obtain a result pattern. The balanced use of traditional teaching and e-learning, so called blended learning, e.g. through the use of short videos, it ensures a high student motivation and enfolds its full potential when integrated within the science or mathematics course.

The Kaizen teaching method was presented at different universities such as Sultan Qaboos University, RWTH Aachen University, Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich, Technical University Munich as well as at an international learning conference ‘Bett Middle East’ in Abu Dhabi. For further details about the Kaizen technique, please contact Prof. Bernhard: Bernhard.heim@gutech.edu.om

In the context of exchanging ideas about teaching, the GUtech Department of MAS has been organizing regular teaching seminars at lunch time, the schedule can be requested from the department.

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For the first time, GUtech CS club hosts the ONLY Google HASH CODE hub in Oman

Hash Code is a team-based programming competition organized by Google. Hash Code started in 2014 as a one-day online programming competition for students and professionals from across France. Later on, in 2016, google scaled the competition to the rest of Europe, the Middle East and Africa, where more than 17,000 people signed up to compete.

To participate in Google Hash Code, participants pick their teams of two to four individuals and their preferred programming language. Teams step into the shoes of a Google engineer and tackle a real life challenge picked by Google.

Google Hash Code competition is open to all university students and industry professionals.

The Main goal of the Google Hash Code is to test teams’ ability to come up with code-based solutions to real life challenges.

The Computer Club at GUtech, represented by Alya Al Shanfari, a Computer Science student, will participate in the Google Hash Code 2017. GUtech will host the Online Qualification Round on February 23rd, 2017. Qualified teams will be called to travel to Google Office in Paris on April 1st, 2017.

For more information visit the link below :

http://www.gutech.edu.om/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/AboutHashCode_EN.pdf

 

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Students from 31 nationalities study at GUtech in different programmes

Student life at GUtech reflects our values: “GUtech is committed to ethical principles in all of its undertakings. In particular, the University welcomes students and employees from both genders, all ethnic, geographical, cultural and religious backgrounds. The University encourages association in peace and with tolerance, and welcomes further intercultural exchange between Oman and Germany.”

Students from 31 nationalities study at GUtech in different programmes:

 

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Faculty of Business at GUtech in Oman and Outward Bound Oman collaborate to develop key life skills amongst students.

The Faculty of Business and Economics at the German University of Technology in Oman  partnered this year with Outward Bound Oman to run the annual International Business and Service Management students’ excursion. The International Business and Service Management programme is a four-year business degree focusing on the tourism sector. In the first year students study a module on Tourism Geography of Oman; the module includes a mandatory field trip to one of Oman’s many tourism destinations.

“In the previous years we only focused on familiarizing the students with Oman’s many tourism assets and encourage them to critically assess it; we did not focus on capacity building or character building specifically. Our collaboration with Outward Bound Oman has managed to combine our academic goals with the great programme of character building and life skills development,  enabling the students to not only discover Oman, but also discover themselves, GUtech is privileged to have established this partnership with Outward Bound Oman”. Said Dr. Heba Aziz head of the department of Logistics, Tourism and Service Management.

Outward Bound Oman uses the outdoor environment to physically and mentally challenge the young participants, and to help them develop the key life skills sought by employers, thus helping bridge the gap between educational environments and the workplace. The Outward Bound/Tahaddi initiative is a first for the Middle East region, and recognises the importance of training and development for local people, and supports the commitment by His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said, to develop the nation’s human resources in accordance with Oman’s Vision 2020.

This year’s trip took place between the 2nd and 5th January 2017 to Wadi Al Abyad. Thirty-eight students studying in their first year participated; during the trip the students carried all the supplies including water and sleeping equipment, prepared their own food, and had to draw on qualities like teamwork, initiative, communication and perseverance to solve a series of problems and challenges.

Taif Al Kindi, a student studying international business and tourism commented:

“This excursion is an experience that I will never forget, it taught me a lot about myself that I didn’t know. How to work with a team and most importantly to stick as a team at the end of the day. To test my limits, even when I think that I can’t go anymore.  I realize that nothing can stop me and that I am my only competitor”. The students were accompanied by a number of leaders from Outward Bound, and Ms. Amjaad Al Hinai a GUtech Alumni and currently a lecturer at the department: “I was able to see the student develop and grow in the four days – the change was almost instant, we are committed to continue exposing the student to out of the classroom experiences” said Ms. Hinai.

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GUtech team prepares for the Shell Eco-marathon Asia

HALBAN A group of eight GUtech students from the departments of Engineering and Computer Science are currently building an eco-friendly car to participate in the annual Shell Eco-marathon Asia challenge, planned to be held in Singapore this March. For the third time GUtech will participate in this global competition. For the first time two female students participate, one of them is Arjawan Al Hajri, 3rd year Process Engineering student. She will drive the car: “I love driving cars. I think it will be a very good experience,” she said. The software programming of the car has been developed by another Omani female student, Al Shifa al Hadi. “The automatic control programming is an important feature of the car. The team studied the cars of their Asian competitors in the previous challenges and came up with innovative ideas, such as automatic control programming for the car. “The computer programme will increase the car’s performance. It will mainly focus on sensing and reporting car-related parameters to the driver,” said Prof. Dr. Nafaa Jabeur, Head of the Department of Computer Science at GUtech.

Commenting on GUtech team’s preparations for Shell Eco-marathon Asia 2017, Muna Al Shukaili, General Manager of External Relations at Shell Development Oman stated: “We are very pleased to see that German University of Technology in Oman is set to compete in Shell Eco-marathon for the third time. I hope the competition will help develop students’ talents and make a contribution to sustainability in Oman. We are also very pleased to see that for the first time we have female students in the Omani teams participating in Shell Eco-marathon. I wish them all the best of luck as they arrive in Singapore in March for this challenge.” The chassis of the car is ready, it will take another month to build the body before the shipment. “The team worked hard in their free time and on the weekends. In June they started designing the car,” said Dr. Emmanouil Bouzakis, Senior Lecturer of the Engineering Department at GUtech. He is supervising the entire team work. The team used lightweight materials such as aluminium alloys and carbon fibre composites. “The car is very light it should be very fuel efficient,” said Mohammed Salman, the team leader of the GUtech team. A number of companies are sponsoring the team: Oman Air, Oman Cables and Europoles Middle East.

Last year, after passing the technical checks and improving the different features the students 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 students hope that their ideas and inventions can contribute to building lighter and eco-friendlier cars in future. The students would like to motive other students to think in more sustainable ways. After the competition, they are planning to showcase the car to school students in Oman.

 

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Academics of the Urban Planning and Architectural Design evaluate the end of semester projects of 3rd year students

Academics of the Urban Planning and Architectural Design Department of GUtech evaluate the end of semester projects of 3rd year students in an inspirational atmosphere, allowing them to present their ideas and openly discuss their projects.
The core of the projects was about restoration of social life of societies in some areas which lack social activities through building some service facilities to enhance direct social communication among members of the society.