Student Achievement Awards Ceremony held

HALBAN The annual GUtech Achievement Awards were celebrated in the amphitheatre of the university on Monday. Prof. Dr. Ing. Michael Modigell, Rector of GUtech, stressed in his inaugural speech that the awards recognize the achievements of students and at the same time they encourage all students to work hard and to be involved in the university’s activities. The students were awarded in different academic and non-academic categories. In the category ‘the Dean’s List’, awards were given to students with a GPA higher than 3.5 and who were top 10 achievers in their study-programmes last year. The category ‘Best & Brightest’ honored students for their outstanding performance in extra-curricular, academic activities, research and special projects conducted in their 3rd or final year. In the category GU Student Company a total of 23 students were awarded for being involved in establishing the companies Burjass and ENF. In the category ‘Student Academic Clubs’ awards were given to students who participated in eight different student clubs such as the Computer Science Club, the Applied Geosciences Club, the English Club, the Logistics Club,  Business Club, Engineering Club, Hardware Club and the Talking Stick Club. The members of the Student Advisory Council also received awards for their continuous work. In the category ‘Non-Academic Competitions” GUtech students were awarded for their involvement in national and international non-academic competitions. In the category ‘Social Clubs’, awards were given to students who participated and contributed in the Student Media Centre, Theatre Club, Community Services Club, the Arts Club or the International Club. The ‘Volunteer’s Award’ was given to students who dedicated their time and their minds to organizing GUtech events. Finally, the sports awards were given to students who participated in sports activities and who won different sports tournaments.

Caption: Dr. Hussain Al Salmi, Deputy-Rector for Administration and Finance awarded GUtech students during the ceremony

 

GUtech’s Founding Rector receives the Pakistani National Award Hilal-e-Imtiaz

HALBAN The founding Rector of the German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech), Prof. Dr. Michael Jansen, has recently received one of the highest national awards from the President of Pakistan, H.E. Arif Alvi. He received the Crescent of Distinction Medal, the Hilal-e-Imtiaz, on the occasion of the Pakistani National Day in Islamabad. The medal is the second highest civilian award. Prof. Jansen was bestowed in recognition of his services to the archaeological discovery of the Indus Valley Civilisation, at the Presidency on Pakistan Day, March 23, in Islamabad.
Already in 1987 Professor Jansen had been decorated with the Star of Distinction (Sitara-e-Imtiaz), the third highest honour and civilian award of the State of Pakistan. Professor Jansen thus joins the exclusive group of persons with two national awards and the only one in the field of the Indus Valley which bears testimony to his lifelong, passionate services to Mohenjo Daro, the jewel of the third millennium Indus Valley Civilisation.

During his stay in Pakistan Prof. Jansen presented the outline of a ‘Heritage Management Strategy’, which aims at establishing vertical and horizontal national structures and integrated regional networks to preserve and promote Pakistan’s deep and diverse heritage including the 5,000 year old ‘Indus Valley’ and the 2,000 year old ‘Gandhara’ civilization.
At the recently held ‘Pakistan Day’ in Muscat, an unprecedented corporate event hosted in partnership with 16 local Pakistani businesses, the 500 guests could witness the symbolic presentation of the Award to Prof. Jansen here in Oman. Visiting Federal Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Noor-ul-Haq Qadri and Omani Secretary of General Defence Muhammad Nasir Al Rasbi were assisted by Ali Javed, Ambassador of Pakistan to the Sultanate.

(c) GUtech

 

“Public Spaces – Urban Identities in Muscat”, exhibition opens at Bait Al Baranda Museum

MUSCAT Under the auspices of H.E. Thomas Schneider, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to the Sultanate of Oman and Eng. Nasser Bin Ali Al Hinai, Director General of Technical Affairs of Muscat Municipality, the exhibition “Public Spaces – Urban Identities in Muscat” was opened today morning at Bait Al Baranda Museum in Muttrah (Muscat). The exhibition is held in cooperation with the German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech). It displays different perspectives of planning public spaces and their identities in Muscat. Tourism research, community-based designs and architectural sketches on Muttrah from students and faculty members of GUtech and partially in cooperation with the Scientific College of Design are on display. The main topics of the exhibition are: “Observations and drawings of Muttrah”, “CommunityBased Design in Muscat”, “WOW — Where Oman Walks” and “Mega-cruise tourism and its impacts on the local community in Souq Muttrah”.

The opening of the exhibition included talks on the development of urban spaces followed by a panel discussion with experts from the academia and the public sector in Oman. H.E. Thomas Schneider stressed in his welcome address, the importance of involving the local community in urban planning processes in order to create places that enhance networks within the community while respecting their everyday needs. Prof. Dr. Gustavo di Siqueira, Head of the Department of Urban Planning and Architectural Design (UPAD) at GUtech said that Muscat has witnessed a rapid urban development since the 1970, focusing on basic infrastructure and a car-oriented network. In their student project he focused on how the community perceives the walkability of certain areas and their suggestions for further improvements, e.g. in Al Khoud and Al Khuwair. Prof. Gazmend Kalemi, UPAD Department and his students display their sketches on Muttrah in the second part of the exhibition. “Drawing expresses our impressions and observations. The more you draw, the more you see and observe the tangible environment,” said Prof. Gazmend Kalemi, UPAD Department at GUtech, while adding that future architects need to have a basic knowledge about space and its aesthetics. Referring to the student and academic work on display, Malik Al Hinai, Director of Bait Al Baranda Museum said: “You created a special story that visitors will see in the coming week – urban spaces, walking spaces are on display for the community”.

During the discussion, the architect and urban planner Hilal Al Busaidi from Muscat Municipality said that he and his team have realized that the community is very willing to participate in public discussions. “We try to include the community in the planning and policy-making process,” he said. Shela Hussain and Mahmood Al Wahaibi from the Supreme Council of Town Planning, who are involved in the preparation of the Oman Vision 2040 and the Oman National Spatial Strategy Project, said that the use of ethnography is very important in exploring social values and personal experiences of space. “Especially in tourism, the charm of the country lies in authentic spaces,” said Mahmood Al Wahaibi. Referring to the walkability of spaces, one of the female GUtech UPAD students in the audience stressed that public spaces are rather male spaces and that it needs a general mind-shift. Currently, it is difficult and challenging for females to walk on their own in public. Dr. Manuela Gutberlet, academic researcher and PR Manager at GUtech showcases some of her ongoing academic research on the impacts of mega-cruise tourism on local life in Muttrah. In her talk she mentioned that in particular overcrowding, a marginalisation of the local well-established community and culture shock situations have triggered a silent resistance from the Omani business community and the residents. In addition, an increase in cheap imported souvenirs and social dumping of the labour force were observed. “The space along the corniche road and the main street in Souq Muttrah has developed into a ‘tourist bubble’, focusing on the needs of the mass tourist. My survey shows that most of the cruise tourists consume the place visually; they do not buy anything or very little in Souq Muttrah. Research conducted in other cruise destinations worldwide support these results. To increase the quality of life of the local community, she recommends to limit and control the number of cruise tourists arriving in Muttrah and to introduce a tourism management strategy.

The organizers of this special opening event wish that the workshop serves as a kick-off event for a continuous discussion on urban spaces and their identities, for the benefits of local communities in Oman.

The exhibition “Public Spaces – Urban Identities in Muscat” at Bait Al Baranda is open until 1st of May, from Saturday to Thursday between 9 am to 1 pm and 4 pm to 6 pm.

(c) GUtech; Text and Photo: Dr. Manuela Gutberlet and Olivera Petrovic

 

‘Ports and Trans-Ports in the Indian Ocean’ – An International Workshop and a Field-Excursion / MoU signed with Sindh University

HALBAN The “International Start-Up Workshop Ports and Trans-Ports. Evolution and Revolution(s) in the Indian Ocean World” exploring historical and contemporary networks and mobility on sea and on land within the Indian Ocean was held at GUtech recently. The workshop was organized by the Research Centre Indian Ocean (RIO) in cooperation with Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (Germany), the Max Plank Institute for Social Anthropology (Germany), Sindh University (Pakistan) and the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS). A large number of international scholars from various universities in Europe, the Middle East and Asia were participating in the three-day workshop and a field-excursion.

On the sidelines of the conference held at the History of Science Center at GUtech, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between GUtech and the University of Sindh, Jamshoro (Pakistan) in order to promote and encourage scientific research and academic collaboration in various fields. The MoU was signed by both the Rectors and by Prof. Dr. Michael Jansen (RIO – Research Center Indian Ocean) and Prof. Sarfraz Hussain Solangi (CIVIS – Center for Indus Valley Integrated Studies). Different Memoranda of Understanding with the Universities of Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg and the Aga Khan University in London are under preparation.

The field-excursion of the conference was headed by Prof. Dr. Michael Jansen, who is an archaeologist and the Founding-Rector of GUtech. The five day excursion included historical archaeological sites like Qalhat, Bibi Maryam Tomb and Duqum with its modern port developments, followed by Salalah, Khor Rori and the ancient frankincense port of Al Baleed. Sumharam (Khor Rori) and Al Baleed are one of the oldest historical sites in Oman, showcasing the rich maritime history and links within the Indian Ocean. Together with the “Land of Frankincense” Wadi Dokar and both the sides have been listed as one of Oman´s UNESCO World Heritage sites in 2000 as well as the ancient port of Qalhat in 2018.

Prof. Dr. Michael Jansen, Director of RIO, explained that first interregional networks developed between the Indus Valley, Mesopotamia and Oman in the Third Millennium. Other networks developed along the river Nile, the Red Sea and the Mediterranean. Later on, many more networks developed out of which the Roman network connected the Roman Empire via the Red Sea to India, and Malakka to China.

(c) GUtech & RIO

GUtech Held Triple Accredited MBA Information Session

HALBAN The German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) hosted a general information session on its new Master of Business Administration (MBA) programme recently. Vienna University of Economics and Business (WU), the partner-university for the MBA programme, is one of the largest and leading business universities in Europe. The university was established in 1898 and founded as the Imperial Transport University.

“Our unique GUtech-WU MBA programme has a triple international accreditation from the most sought-after international accreditations: AACSB, AMBA, EQUIS. The 18 months programme will offer a double degree from GUtech and the prestigious Vienna University of Economics and Business (WU) in Austria. Our programme is suitable for professionals with at least three years of work experience who would like to enhance their management skills,” said Prof. Dr. Heba Aziz, Dean of the Faculty of Business and Economics at GUtech while adding that only 10 per cent of the MBA programmes worldwide have a triple accreditation. The majority of the joint MBA programme, 75 per cent, will be taught by academics from the University of Vienna and 25 per cent by GUtech academics. “The programme offers specialisations in International Tourism, Entrepreneurship and in Logistics. To complete the MBA a total of 90 credit points are required and the majority of the class-work will be conducted in teams,” said Prof. Heba Aziz. The programme will be taught in a so-called 3-tier modular structure through GUtech’s e-learning platform. Entry requirements include IELTS 6.0 but language proficiency could be checked during admission interviews. The Bachelor degrees have to be recognised in Oman and in Austria. Prior to acceptance of the application, all candidates will undergo an interview with GUtech and WU academics who teach in the MBA programme. “Having worked in the private sector in Oman for several years, I would like to enhance my overall career opportunities and my management skills,” said one of the participants in the session.

Scholarships are also available. The first 25 applicants will receive a discount of 30 per cent. In addition, Bank Muscat offers the ‘Shahadati Educational Loan’, covering the tuition fees and other study-expenses. The educational loan will be based on the applicants’ monthly salary. Admissions for October 2019 intake are open till 15 August. More information about the courses and tuition fees are available at https://www.gutech.edu.om/academic/business-economics/master-business-administration/.

ends

Towards more green buildings – An Open House Event at the EcoHaus

HALBAN With increased urban development worldwide and here in Oman in particular in the capital area, eco-friendly and energy-efficient houses are a timely and relevant topic to address. To advance an efficient knowledge transfer between the research institutions and the public, the GUtech EcoHaus project, led by Prof. Nikolaus Knebel held an Open House event recently. During a three-hour session Prof. Knebel showed and explained his latest building designs, which elaborate on the experience from the EcoHaus project and the concurrent research done on it. The housing projects discussed with the visitors were villas and a multi-storey residential project.

“Despite pioneering works through the TRC-funded five eco houses built in 2014, the knowledge about how to approach such a DESIGN task needs to reach out to home owners and architects even more.” said Prof. Knebel. Therefore, home owners and builders were invited to participate in the session and present their projects and plans followed by a discussion with Prof. Knebel and GUtech students about how to improve the designs and selection of construction materials to reach a more energy-efficient and eco-friendly architecture.

“The open day of the EcoHaus was great, the visitors were excited and curious. We showed them around the house and discussed proven strategies for recurring problems in our GCC region. It was insightful for the visitors but it was also great for me as student to revisit important concepts regarding renewable energies. I think it is a great idea to hold regular open days for the public and especially for school children,” said Ammal Al Kiyumi, UPAD student at GUtech.

World Water Day ce“We need to stop wasting water. The amount of fresh water is decreasing”

HALBAN Under the auspices of H.E. Ali Bin Mohammed Al-Abri, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Regional Municipalities and Water Resources, the World Water Day was celebrated at the German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech). During the event Eng. Salim Al Khanbashi from the Ministry of Regional Municipalities and Water Resources spoke about the projects of the Ministry and its achievements in protecting Oman’s natural water resources including the falaj system.

During an exhibition outside the GUtech Research Hall, a number of high school students from different schools showcased their thoughts and inventions which were then discussed within a panel of GUtech professors from the Department of Environmental Engineering and Applied Geosciences. For example, Tariq from Mohammed Bin Sheikha School showed his thoughts about the use of grey water in agriculture and for power generation.

“The amount of fresh water is decreasing. We need to stop wasting water,” said Umme Habiba, from the Bangladeshi School while thinking about the use of water in homes as well as in industries. Thinking about the development of desalination plants to increase the water consumption, she is concerned that desalination plants dump the remaining salt into the sea, which then harms the natural environment. In her everyday lives at home, she and her friends try to save water. Saving rain water in a tank and using it for irrigation and agriculture was another student project. The students also addressed climate change and its effect on water resources worldwide.

“Global warming is increasing worldwide. We need cleaner solutions for our planet,” said another female student from the Bangladeshi School Muscat. In her project she highlighted that hydroelectricity can be a cleaner source of energy, compared to nuclear power, fossil fuel or coal. A theatre play by GUtech theatre group presented the negative consequences of disposing plastic in the natural environment.

 

 

Circular Approaches – A series of spring lectures on sustainable architecture at GUtech

“Circular Approaches” is the title of a Spring 2019 Public Lecture Series offered by the Department of Urban Planning and Architectural Design at GUtech. Tomorrow’s public talk at 1.30 pm, held by Dr. Arnaud Evrard, who is a researcher, educator and earthen builder. He completed his doctoral studies in 2008 from the Ecole de Polytechnique de Louvain in Belgium focussing on the thermal properties of Lime-Hemp material. Prof. Arnaud’s talk will focus on circularity at the material level. Since 2016 he has worked as a builder for the rammed earthen pioneer Martin Rauch. He currently teaches at the ‘Architekturwerkstatt’ (Architecture Institute) in St. Gallen. The ‘Circular Approaches’ presentations deal specifically with how architects, builders and educators are incorporating circular strategies into their work.

“With the consequences of energy scarcity and global warming already upon us, the relevance of Circular Thinking in Oman is quite clear. As architects, we are responsible not only for proposing Approaches for these challenges, but seeing them as possibilities to innovate and elevate our practice” said Prof. Wayne Switzer from the UPAD Department.

The idea of circularity can be traced through many philosophies and belief systems and has over time also become a way for a society to understand aspects of their culture – from the economy, agriculture and environmental health. This concept, of continuous feedback and renewal, emphasizes a comprehensive view on our existing and finite resources. Within the field of architecture and construction, this means separating building from the consumption of limited resources and from processes which are harmful to humans and our environment.

Circular building reimagines this process as a regenerative loop: buildings which are made from existing or recycled materials, buildings which produce energy and filter water, buildings which can be disassembled or re-purposed after their initial usage has changed.

Germany in Sketches: A Visual Journey by Omani Students – An Exhibition on 9 April

An exhibition at the German Embassy in Muscat

MUSCAT A sketchbook is a common possession for architecture students worldwide. The Department of Urban Planning and Architectural Design (UPAD) of GUtech will showcase a large number of student works at the German Embassy in Muscat on the 9th April 2019 at 2 pm.

In November last year, a group of twelve UPAD students and Prof. Gazmend Kalemi conducted a field-trip in collaboration with Beuth University in Berlin and RWTH Aachen University, GUtech’s partner university in Germany. The study tour was sponsored by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). “Drawing is a vibrant way of engaging with people and our natural and built environment. During the excursion, we followed the long tradition of travelers attempting to capture different places and atmospheres with their pencils and sketchbooks, collecting visual experiences and to bring them back to their home countries,” said Prof. Gazmend Kalemi, who initiated and supervised the two-week field trip. He added that the importance of advanced design software cannot be denied, but so-called free-hand drawings are essential to understand the environment. “While drawing, we spend considerable time in the physical field to enhance our perception and memory. Drawing involves internalising the object, feeling it in our being and starting a dialogue with it. It is, of course, a way of thinking with the hand,” said Prof. Gazmend.

Appreciating the students’ and professors’ efforts, the German Ambassador to Oman, Thomas Schneider, emphasized the vivid partnership between Germany and Oman: “Not only does our Embassy building itself stand as an example of a successful Omani-German partnership in the field of architecture – projects such as the exchanges  between GUtech und RWTH Aachen contribute to lasting, lively relations between people as well as between institutions”.

The students’ first destination was Berlin, Germany’s capital, located in the north-east of Germany, with a population of 3.6 million inhabitants. “Berlin is well-known for its rich history and architecture. It is a treasure to observe and draw. The arts scene and its diversity are significant and a magnet for young people,” said Prof. Gazmend. The group visited various historical sites, where they experienced how the old meets the new architecture, such as Alexanderplatz, Museumsinsel and Reichstag. The group also worked together with students from Beuth University. In spring 2016 students from Berlin, supervised by Prof. Gerd Sedelies, had visited GUtech and various sites in Oman producing beautiful sketches. “Now we have spent time working together and exchanging our experiences in Berlin. Another highlight was an invitation to Oman’s Embassy in Berlin where we enjoyed Omani hospitality and generosity. At RWTH Aachen University we worked intensively on a small urban design project, experiencing the morphology and the urban identity of the city and its surroundings, which is very different from Muscat. Of course, for Omani students the diversity in culture, people and life in Germany and in Europe was a new and challenging experience. I think after this trip Germany and European culture will be viewed differently by our students and this will reward them both on a personal as well as a professional level” said Prof. Gazmend Kalemi.

The students and Prof Gazmend extend their thanks to the German Embassy in Muscat for showing their sketches at the Embassy. They are also grateful that the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) provided them with the opportunity of a memorable drawing and sketching experience.

If you wish to attend the opening of the exhibition on 9 April, please register by e-mail to L-vz1@mask.diplo.de or by phone call to 2469 1218 ext. 819 with your name, e-mail address and/or mobile number.

 

(c) Text & Photo GUtech: Prof. Gazmend Kalemi and Dr. Manuela Gutberlet

 

 

 

 

The Institutional Standard Assessment of OAAA was conducted at GUtech

HALBAN The Oman Academic Accreditation Authority (OAAA) conducted the visit for the Institutional Standard Assessment of the German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) last week. An international panel of higher education experts visited the university and conducted interviews with GUtech staff members. “Valuable contributions were given by representatives of the Board of Governors, Board of Directors, staff and students of GUtech as well as a number of external stakeholders including employers of our graduates, internship hosts, scholarship providers  and most important are our GUtech alumni,” said Dr. Alma Enriquez, Head of Quality Assurance and Planning Department of GUtech. The OAAA panel members were highly experienced experts from Australia, Austria, Portugal and Oman. The Standards Assessment determines GUtech’s ability to meet OAAA internationally benchmarked external standards and criteria. GUtech already went through the OAAA’s Quality Audit in 2013. The report of the audit is published online on OAAA’s website.

“The OAAA Quality Audit report already confirmed the high quality of GUtech, its programmes and its facilities. Now we are going through Institutional Standards Assessment, which looks into the details of nine different standards,” said Dr. Armin Eberlein, Deputy-Rector for Academic Affairs. He added that GUtech found the preparation for this event useful in strengthening quality processes. Within a few months, the OAAA will provide GUtech with a detailed report of its findings.

The Oman Academic Accreditation Authority (OAAA) initiated a review and revision of the institutional standards which govern the accreditation of higher education institutions in Oman in 2011. Once a university has been accredited, the university is required to go through Standards Assessment every five years in order to maintain their accreditation status. The Standards Assessment is an extensive audit covering every aspect of the operations of an institution.