Campus in Blue to Honour Frontline Professionals during the Covid-19 Pandemic

GUtech Lights its Buildings Blue in Honour of Health Professionals and Frontline Staff and Workers

GUtech Campus Glowing in Blue

GUtech campus glowing in blue to honour the efforts of all professionals keeping us safe and protected.

To honour health professionals and all frontline staff and workers who are confronting the Covid-19 virus in hospitals and health centres, GUtech lights up its buildings in blue each evening at dark for an indefinite period of time starting from tonight, 11 May 2020.

Illuminating buildings in blue lights, GUtech rectorate and community show appreciation and gratefulness for the dedication and sacrifice of all professionals and remind all of us to wash hands and keep social distancing.

“We are glowing our campus in blue which can be seen from far to send a message of hope to the community around us for a better tomorrow and to say thank you to health professionals and all others for their hard work.” The Acting Rector, Dr Hussain Al Salmi, stated in support of all those professionals who are keeping us protected during the pandemic.

(c) GUtech/ Text: Fatima El Madkouri; Photo provided by Infrastructure Department

The Transition to Online Teaching during the COVID-19 Pandemic and its Challenges

The German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) has been teaching all courses online since mid-March. GUtech academics speak about their teaching experiences and challenges faced. “GUtech’s strategy was to support several online teaching tools to allow professors to select the tool most suitable for their classes. This has increased buy-in from professors who are more than happy to share their best practices with colleagues. Students, for the most part, have been very responsive. However, there is a small percentage of students who have limited internet access. Fortunately, joint efforts between MoHE, charities, telecommunication operators and GUtech have resulted in workable solutions for most students. It means that only a very small number of students have to postpone their studies,” said Prof. Dr. Armin Eberlein, Vice-Rector for Academic Affairs at GUtech.

Prof. Dr. Wilfried Bauer, Head of the Department of Applied Geosciences (AGEO) at GUtech said that their department received numerous encouraging messages from students, admitting that under the given circumstances of the pandemic they were happy to learn in a safe environment and from home. “During the last week however, the messages we received from students changed and the students are now more concerned about the situation. Most concerned are our last year students. They don’t know when they will be allowed back to the laboratories to complete their thesis work. I think this is understandable after five weeks of isolation,” said Prof. Wilfried. Another pressing challenge is the delivery of practical courses where the outcome should be a transfer of hands-on skills and internships. “Currently all our laboratories are closed, so that we have to postpone such courses to the next semester,” said Prof. Wilfried while the questions regarding conducting internships remain open. “It is not only that students cannot foresee the end of the restrictions, they also don’t know when they can find an internship or even later a job. They begin to understand that the economic situation caused by COVID-19 can threaten their future and those of their parents, relatives and friends,” he said.

Prof. Dr. Osman Barghouth, Head of the Department of Logistics and Tourism at GUtech said that in their Department students’ motivation and their participation is very high. “I think this high participation depends to a large extent on the course instructors. We as professors must consider the learning process as a two-way communication process. We have to think creatively in order to find ways to involve, motivate and engage our students instead of just giving tasks without feedback,” said Prof. Osman.

In the past weeks Prof. Wilfried Bauer and his team have gained a lot of experiences in adjusting to the current pandemic and in online teaching. However, recorded or live-streamed lectures are different than face-to-face classes. “Our lecturers and professors often lack more elaborated presentation skills of a film producer like David Attenborough. We also often lack the means to adapt all our teaching materials to more elaborated distant learning methods which require much more skills and equipment than recording our voices and preparing white board drawings on a tablet. Without direct feedback from students, we have no possibility to modify the content of the lectures,” said Prof. Wilfried Bauer.

Prof. Osman Barghouth has introduced Microsoft Team Viewer to communicate with all students. To enable the direct contact via video and calls, the Department has added all students in the course to Microsoft Team Viewer. “In our department we design homework assignments that measure the students’ understanding of the online course material and their ability to apply what they learned in practice,” he said. In conclusion, Prof. Dr. Armin Eberlein said that the current experience will bring a long-term change to higher education. “Even when (hopefully soon) the Covid-19 pandemic is over, I anticipate that blended learning will become much more common. Further investments are needed to get from Internet teaching in an emergency situation to proper online education; but Covid-19 has put us on this path.”

Caption: Prof. Dr. Wilfried Bauer, Head of the Applied Geosciences Department and Dean of the Faculty of Sciences

(c) GUtech: Text by Dr. Manuela Gutberlet, Photo: provided by Prof. Wilfried Bauer

 

 

Schlumberger Oman has donated Petrel and PetroMod Software to the Applied Geosciences Department

HALBAN Schlumberger Oman & Co. LLC. has donated recently two Computer Software packages Petrel and PetroMod to the Department of Applied Geosciences at the German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech). The joint Schlumberger Geosciences Computer Laboratory using both software packages was inaugurated at GUtech in 2013.

The state-of-the art computer laboratory at GUtech has been used by BSc and MSc students and for various research projects. Petrel software helps to discover oil reservoirs and to optimize the petroleum recovery. The software divides the subsurface into cells and assigns present day properties to cells. PetroMod reconstructs the geological history in time: when, where and how the oil was formed in the subsurface.

“We were pleased to sign the second donation contract with GUtech recently. Schlumberger continues to focus on in-country value improvements. The software donation to GUtech is part of our commitment to support the development of young talents and expose them to the latest digital solutions,” said Naser Nasser Al Siyabi, Schlumberger Software Integrated Solution Manager at Schlumberger. He further added: “Engaging the students early during their studies is key to ensure that they are better prepared and aligned while using our Schlumberger software specialized in the Exploration & Production for their research. Globally, we have signed similar agreements. We continue to focus on the places where we operate.”

“The Schlumberger software is currently used in regular curricular activities, especially for geophysics courses at GUtech. This means that students are learning with a software that they will later on use in their professional careers. Last year, a team from GUtech used the software for the analysis of data from AAPG, winning the third place in the prestigious Imperial Barrel Award,” said Prof. Dr. Wilfried Bauer, Head of the Department of Applied Geosciences.

Caption: The Schlumberger Laboratory (photo from GUtech archive)

(c) GUtech/ Text & Photo: Dr. Manuela Gutberlet & Umaima Al Zadjali

 

Online teaching and learning at GUtech – professors and students share their views

HALBAN The German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) has recently introduced online teaching and learning for all their BSc, BEng and MSc programmes recently. The measures support the government’s efforts to prevent a further spreading of the coronavirus pandemic, while at the same time ensuring that GUtech students do not miss out their daily classes.

GUtech’s academic staff has adjusted quickly to the new online environment. “At GUtech, we have been doing our utmost to continue our classes online and to provide students with the same learning outcome as before,” said Prof. Dr. Armin Eberlein, Deputy-Rector for Academic Affairs at GUtech while adding: “It requires an adjustment for students and professors to get used to this new format and to deal with the unexpected, such as issues with internet connectivity. We are in constant contact with the Student Advisory Council, who have done an exemplary job in working with the administration to find solutions to the challenges that some students face.” GUtech’s academic departments have adjusted in different ways while introducing Microsoft Teams for one-on-one consultations with their lecturers, e.g. during thesis preparations and the Moodle platform to collect teaching and learning material. The Applied Geoscience department has to deliver many practical activities. “One of our classrooms was transformed into a small film studio and a professor is instructing students how to solve problems and is filmed by another staff member. So, even practical exercises requiring equipment can be taught online, for example digital microscopy. To some extend the current crisis is a chance to improve our presentation skills and test new forms of knowledge transfer,” said Prof. Dr. Wilfried Bauer, Head of Applied Geosciences Department at GUtech. Safa Al-Breiki is a 2nd year student in Applied Geosciences. She has been attending most of the online courses from home. She said that “the online teaching is good so far, but depends on the lecturers and how they are trying to facilitate the learning for us students. For me, some subjects are better studied online. If we have the recorded PowerPoint and we want to return back to what the lecturer said, we can just open the PowerPoint and listen again.”

“Online teaching is a great opportunity for instructors and students. We are getting more familiar with different technologies and different ways of delivering our knowledge. When I use pre-recorded lessons, I can modify my lectures and evaluate them. Overall, I have experienced high student engagement. Compared to my regular classes, they are asking more questions now. Students also share their concerns about assessments and grades,” said Dr Yathrib Ajaj, Senior Lecturer, Department of Mathematics and Sciences. For students in Process Engineering online courses have been a positive experience, though for some it can be difficult to find a quiet learning environment at their homes. “The first lecture was a bit hard for us to understand but after the second lecture things went better. Most of us deal with online classes the same way we deal with our normal classes – we prepare, we participate, and we study after each lecture. Dealing with practical parts, we have started solving tutorials online with the help of our lecturer and by using some apps that use online white board with a pen, so that it is very interactive for us.” said Rayyan Alajmi, 3rd year student in Process Engineering.

Despite the excellent learning outcome, some students are also facing challenges with unstable and limited internet connections. Safa and some of her study-colleagues have been struggling with weak internet connections. “The internet in my home and neighborhood is poor,” she said, adding that live classes are difficult to follow. “My friends are saying that they get disconnected during live online classes, and when they’re disconnected they miss some points.” Despite these challenges, Rab Nawas, Physics Lecturer in the Department of Mathematics and Sciences said that such live broadcast to larger groups and a reliable WIFI connectivity are challenges to overcome. “The attendance and participation in my courses are excellent. Pre-recorded lessons seem an excellent tool blended with online discussion and chat sessions. We have been working with blended learning and e-learning for several years. I think it is a must,” he said.

“It has been a challenging experience for all of us, but I think we have managed to find excellent ways to continue educating our students. Currently, we are conducting a lot of classes through online sessions,” said Prof. Dr. Osman Barghouth, Head of the Logistics and Tourism Department. He said that the number of participants in each class plays a decisive role regarding the didactics and the overall learning outcome. “We have decided to pre-record the lectures at least 24 hours before the classes and we are available online during the classes in order to respond to any questions. I think adapting to these new changes through online teaching is not an option, it is necessary during these times,” said Prof. Osman.

Caption: Recording of an online teaching course at the Department of Applied Geosciences

(c) GUtech/ Text & Photo: Dr. Manuela Gutberlet & Umaima Al Zadjali

Special field-excursion: GUtech students explore the geology of Dhofar

HALBAN To learn more about the geology of the South of the Sultanate of Oman, a group of 27 Applied Geosciences students along with Prof. Dr. Ivan Callegari and Prof. Heninjara Rarivoarison, conducted a 10-day excursion to Dhofar region. The main aim of the trip was to apply fieldwork techniques acquired in theory during the Bachelor of Science programme and to more about the geology of the Dhofar region. Overall, the students were enthusiastic about the excursion. “We worked along spectacular outcrops and landscapes, a special experience for all of them,” said Prof. Ivan.

During the excursion, the Geosciences students acquired different techniques required for geological fieldwork that help understand the main geological formations of the South of Oman. “Our fieldwork focused on the mineralogical and petrographical analysis, the structural geology reconstruction and geological mapping. These are important techniques used in the oil and gas exploration,” said Prof. Dr. Ivan Callegari. The South of Oman is characterized by a crystalline and metamorphic basement belonging to the Arabian shield that mainly crops out in western Saudi Arabia. “These kind of rocks are the “roots” of the entire rock succession of Oman. They are not well exposed in Northern parts of the Sultanate. The South of Oman is characterized by a so-called Neoproterozoic (700 million years old) crystalline and metamorphic basement covered by a sedimentary rock succession. The latest include one of the most important oil reservoir rocks in Oman,” said Prof. Ivan.

The field excursion was part of a seminar taught by both professors. “In class, the students were already introduced to the main geological concepts including rock formations that make up the uniqueness of the South of Oman. In addition, they learnt how to handle the different tools and materials required for geological fieldwork as well as how to apply different methods taught in class, for example describing, identifying and classifying minerals and rocks in the field, the so-called petrography and mineralogy. The students also learnt how to apply measurement techniques to recognized geological features such as joint, fracture, stratification, faults and else which are important methods applied in the oil and gas exploration.”

The Geosciences students also learnt about the processing of the obtained data and to apply different data management techniques taught in class, for example, stereographic projection, rose diagram analysis and geological cross-section.

(c) GUtech/ Text & Photo: Dr. Manuela Gutberlet & Prof. Dr. Ivan Callegari

Students analyse the suitability of the Sharquiyah Sands desert sand for concrete production

HALBAN As part of their field-projects, a group of 4th-year students from the Department of Applied Geosciences (AGEO) at the German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) has conducted research on the chemical and physical properties and the suitability of the Sharquiyah Sands desert for concrete production. The project was supervised by Prof. Dr. Raad Alani, AGEO Department. “I think the desert has a rich potential for cement production. Last year a Bachelor thesis was conducted on the cement production in Sharquiyah Sands,” said Prof. Raad.

For an industrial concrete production water, coarse aggregates, fine aggregates and cement are used. In their fieldwork AGEO students Shaima Al Mazrui, Noora Al Rumhi, Mariya Al Nabhani and Meera Al Shibli applied different geological methods to test the properties of the sands. “Using the desert may be socially and economically beneficial compared to mining sand from river beds or the ocean,” said the students. The students concluded in their study that the fine grain size of the desert sand does not entirely meet the fine aggregate size requirements for industrial concrete production. However, the fine-grain aggregates of the desert can be used to a certain degree, while making alterations to the water-cement ratio as well as using different types of cement. Therefore, the students concluded that the use of sand for cement production should be further studied and analysed.

(c) GUtech / Dr. Manuela Gutberlet and Prof. Dr. Raad Alani

Applied Geosciences students presented their projects on Water in Oman

HALBAN Fourth year students from the Department of Applied Geosciences at the German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) have recently presented their team projects during poster presentations held at the department.

Water is valued as a spring of life and the basic resource for human activities. Due to its scarcity in the Sultanate of Oman, water resources receive great attention, said fourth year students Azhar Al Shabibi, Amira Al Mahrouqi, Aziza Al Abri and Ahood Al Abri. In their poster presentation in the AGEO Department they showed the water balance of the Wadi Al Muadin located in Al Dakhiliya region. The main purpose of the study in Wadi al Muadin, was to analyse the impact of the dam on the groundwater in the wadi. According to their results, the amount of recharge increases in the downstream of the wadi where the slope of the landform controls the speed of the wadi flow. The precipitation in interrupted periods gives enough time for water to infiltrate into the ground.

Three other GUtech students Omar Al Zadjali, Mansoor Al Kindi and Almaqdad Al Harthi focused their team project on the quality of the water flow in one of the biggest falaj systems in Oman, Falaj Al Muyassar in Rustaq. The main aim of their project was to analyse the hydrological properties of the falaj and to analyse the physical and chemical characteristics of the water. The students applied different methods to measure the groundwater characteristics including a field toolkit to analyse the water and flow meter to estimate the discharge of the falaj. One of their results showed the superior water quality that serves the village as a major water source. Another student hydrology project presented was in the Batinah area, where the students investigated the seawater intrusion phenomenon and its effect on the shallow aquifer and agriculture activities, by measuring abandoned water wells’ hydrogeological parameters.

“We are adapting our courses to meet the needs and the challenges in Oman. As an arid country, Omanis have invested a lot in the water sectors in the past thousands of years, by developing aflaj systems. During the past five decades around 150 dams were constructed either to store the water or to enhance the aquifer recharge. Our GUtech graduates should display individual and teamwork besides critical thinking and problem-solving skills,” said Prof. Dr. Ahmed Hadidi, AGEO Department.

(c) GUtech Text & Photos: Dr. Manuela Gutberlet & Prof. Dr. Ahmed Hadidi

Hydrologists from GUtech published their scientific research in the Urban Water Journal

HALBAN Scientists from the Department of Applied Geosciences at GUtech, together with a colleague from the Netherlands have published a scientific research paper in the ‘Urban Water Journal’, published by Taylor and Francis Online. The research report by Prof. Dr. Holzbecher and Dr. Hadidi is entitled ‘Flood mapping in face of rapid urbanization: a case study of Wadi Majraf-Manumah, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman.’ The research has been financially supported by The Research Council (TRC).

“The continuous construction of infrastructure, as well as residential and industrial areas, can shift the spots and add higher risk of flooding to existing or newly urbanized regions. For that reason, it is of high importance to update flood and risk maps regularly,” said Dr. Ahmed Hadidi, hydrogeologist at GUtech.

The rapid urbanization observed in many parts of the world creates new challenges. Aims are the protection against flash floods and the diminution of flooding. In the research paper a case study is presented concerning the region adjacent to Wadi Majraf-Manumah in Muscat, Sultanate of Oman. A team of BSc students was involved in ongoing research. Using Differential GPS they conducted a survey campaign to refine the Digital Elevation Model (DEM) in the vicinity of GUtech, located in the region. The site is characterized by rapid urbanization in the past decade. This requires a priori use of a flood simulation tool and the option for regular updates. To evaluate flood risks, it is necessary to use computer models to simulate flooding events. Regularly updated flood maps can be used for planning purposes. Advanced flood simulation tools are available that deliver accurate results in a short time, with high-resolution information and advanced capabilities to model hydrodynamic processes and that can also be used for managing actual flooding events. The hydrodynamic model 3Di, presented in the paper, is served from a GIS environment. It enables users to construct flash flood scenarios and run them in a cloud environment.

“The information about changed streamflow due to urbanization can help communities reduce their current and future vulnerabilities to floods, mitigate flash flood hazards and manage activities during disasters. Besides updating flood maps continuously, our further recommendations to reduce the flooding are to avoid urbanization activities in the flood risk zones defined by the flood maps and to improve drainage construction around these hot spots.” Said Dr. Ahmed Hadidi.

Currently, the team of researchers at GUtech are developing a prototype of an early warning system. Such Decision Support System (DSS) system could help the authorities to restrict traffic on dangerous parts of the roads,” said Dr. Ahmed Hadidi.

GUtech alumna wins award for her video about fossils (Rudists) from Oman at Friedrich-Alexander University, Germany

HALBAN Najat Al Fudhaili, GUtech alumna in BSc Applied Geosciences and a passionate about fossils has won the first prize in the Science Communication Competition held at the Friedrich-Alexander University (FAU) in Erlangen/Nürnberg (Germany) recently. Najat was awarded for her best script and the best filmmaking. In her short film entitled “Cretaceous bivalve longevity, growth rate and potential as an archive for environmental reconstructions,” she represents her Bachelor project. She came up with an idea using easy terms that can be understood by the general public and non-palaeontologists maintaining the scientific concepts. “The idea of my project is to study three different fossil species of a bizarre bivalve group, so-called ‘Rudists’ and to estimate their growth rate and longevity. Also, by considering that these kinds of fossils tend to store their life history in their shells, they can help in reconstructing the paleoclimate and reveal under which sort of environmental conditions they tend to grow”. Najat recently graduated from GUtech and now continues her geology and palaeontology studies in Germany within the MSc-programme at FAU. Her current research involves geochemical measurements on shells in Germany and in Italy, which allow temperature reconstructions for the Cretaceous time, some 100 million years ago, when the Sultanate of Oman was covered by a tropical shallow sea.

To watch Najat’s video please visit the following website:

https://www.fau.de/2019/11/news/studium/filmreife-geowissenschaftliche-forschung/

© GUtech: Photo provided by FAU/Boris Mijat

GUtech Commemorates 7th Anniversary of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Visit

The German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) commemorated on Tuesday 24th December the 7th anniversary of the visit of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said to its campus.

The 24th of December marks the private visit of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said to GUtech campus in Halban. The commemoration of the private visit of His Majesty is annually observed by GUtech community. Students and staff remember the day to reflect on the importance of the visit in GUtech’s history and on the vision of His Majesty the Sultan for Oman’s academic and research development.

In the late afternoon of December 24th, 2012, the founders of GUtech and members of the rectorate welcomed his majesty to GUtech campus and its facilities, few weeks only after its opening.

In visiting GUtech campus and meeting the founders and the rectorate, His Majesty confers upon it an unusual distinction. “We welcome His Majesty’s private visit to GUtech campus as a gracious expression of his trust in our university and a vital catalyser enticing us to work harder and faster for further progress” proudly declares Dr Hussain Al Salmi, Deputy Rector for Administration and Finance.

The significant and ever-lasting contributions His Majesty has made to Oman and to the lives of its people are universally known; not less impressive than the wise introduction of far-reaching reforms which has promoted the development of the education system, and the prosperity of the country in general.

As more as 3000 male and female students enrolled in the university in the last 12 years. More than 400 male and female students graduated from it while there are more than 2200 male and female students are currently pursuing their studies.

(c) GUtech/Text: Fatima El Madkouri