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 Research Team in GUtech’s Faculty of Business and Economics Administers Survey on Acceptance of Virtual Tours During the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Research Team in GUtech’s Faculty of Business and Economics Administers Survey on Acceptance of Virtual Tours During the Spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19)

COVID – 19 is affecting all our lives in multiple ways. Supermarkets are running out of toilet paper, pasta and hand sanitizer, small shops have to close, airlines stop operating – the economy all over the world has to face some severe changes!?

Meanwhile we are questioning ourselves: What impact will this crisis have on the Tourism sector!? Our research team is about to answer this question with your very much appreciated help!

The Research Team in GUtech’s Faculty of Business and Economics is asking the public to participate in a survey-based study to understand the acceptance of virtual tours during the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19).

This research is about the use of Virtual Tours during crisis such as COVID-19 and its acceptance by the society (you).

The survey takes approximately 10 minutes.

The survey can be found at this link: https://forms.gle/AF34PSHjkaiBMAHf6

Engineering students showcased their projects during the International Gas Conference

 

 

HALBAN Students from the Department of Engineering and the Department of Computer Sciences have participated with ten poster presentations in the International Gas Union Research Conference 2020 (IGRC2020) that was held at the Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre a few weeks ago. The three-day conference was one of the leading international gas events, held under the auspices of Dr. Mohamed Al Rumhi, Minister of Oil and Gas in Oman.

“It was a great chance for our students to showcase their group project ideas and then to connect with experts from all over the world. We were very pleased to participate with a number of students in this important international gas exhibition and conference. The students had the opportunity to discuss their projects with international leaders in the field of gas research. We would like to thank the organizers for all their support,” said Prof. Dr. Hind Bhargash, Professor in the Department of Environmental Engineering.

GUtech Engineering and Computer Sciences students were among a few, selected students presenting their projects. GUtech student projects presented during the IGRC2020 were a gas pipeline leak detector using sensors, a smart city planning project that included solar energy operated by Arduino software, as well a simple firefighting truck using Arduino and other sensors. A group of three Environmental Engineering students presented a poster on a greenhouse operated by a hydroponic system using Arduino software. Another group of Engineering students presented a poster on a so-called pen plotter, a special type of graphics printer that draws graphical images or text instead of a toner that can be used on any solid surfaces or paper.

The ICRC2020 conference discussed global energy challenges across the gas value-chain including sessions on de-carbonizing the industry as well as production optimization through the use of new technologies aiming towards a cleaner planet. Moreover, emerging technologies in gas utilization were discussed such as a hydrogen production and storage as well as CO2 utilization and storage.

Architects held an Online Research Workshop On Urbanism

Despite the current limitations in face-to-face meetings, academics from the Department of Urban Planning and Architectural Design at the German University of Technology (GUtech) are carrying on with their scholarly projects in unusual ways. “Every crisis has a potential to create innovative solutions,” says Prof. Nikolaus Knebel, who had to overcome the short-term cancellation of an international two-day workshop on “Cities In Their Own Right. Southern Urbanisms Along The Indian Ocean Coast” that was planned for months. Last year, the renowned Urban Studies Foundation granted a fund to hold an International Seminar Series to Prof Nikolaus Knebel, Dr. Nathalie Jean-Baptiste from Ardhi University in Tanzania and Prof. Dr. Nina Gribat from Cottbus University in Germany. The focus of this research project is on understanding cities along the coast of East Africa, Yemen, Oman, Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka, which, over the next decades, will experience drastic changes to their urban and social structures. The question is: Are there models for this transformation that suit the specific conditions of these cities of the Global South? For example, Dar Es Salaam is a city which is predicted to grow to the size of Mumbai in the foreseeable future. “We want to foster a scholarly exchange to see what one side can learn from the other. But the participants are also very much rooted in practice, because they work on everyday issues of their cities and citizens through setting up so-called City-Labs, which are platforms for discussions, research, practical problem-solving as much as visionary thinking.”, says Knebel. “We have built up a network of scholars from cities in the South like Dar Es Salaam, Zanzibar, Muscat, Karachi, Mumbai, Kochi and Colombo as well as also contributors from Oxford, Dortmund and Stuttgart and were looking forward to our workshop. We wanted to meet in our group of researchers to discuss our papers, but had to switch to an online meeting last minute,” says Knebel. “It was interesting to see what the change of format brought, meeting within a limited timeframe of two hours instead of two days. Of course, we missed the informal chat and networking that always makes conferences a fertile ground for new ideas and new partnerships. But on the other hand, we worked so concentrated on the discussion of research papers. I had the impression that we were much more disciplined and focused than it is in live sessions sometimes.” The positive experience of this online conference led to the group wanting to continue meeting with this format for the time being. “However, our topic is urban studies, it is all about people and the public life in a city, which is quite the opposite of being quarantined at home or confined in an office. I can imagine that after this period of experiencing empty cities devoid of people we might appreciate the qualities of social life in urban spaces much more,” says Prof. Nikolaus Knebel.

German-Omani Workshop on the Sustainable Use of Natural Resources and Energy held

HALBAN To introduce students from all GUtech departments to the sustainable use of natural resources and energy, a one-day workshop in cooperation with Brandenburg Technical University, Cottbus – Senftenberg (Germany) was conducted at the university last Thursday. It was the second workshop on environmental sustainability held at GUtech’s Department of Engineering. The workshop combined lectures, case-study presentations and group work. It was directly related to the academic curricula and all study-programmes at GUtech.

“The workshop provided students with in-depth knowledge on environmental planning, law, sustainability standards, certification and ecology in the context of sustainable development, coping with the effects of climate change through adaptation and mitigation. Such adaptation measures were discussed on a local, regional and global scale and from different stakeholder perspectives,” said Prof. Dr. Najah Al Mhanna, Head of the Department of Engineering. The workshop on Sustainable Use of Resources and Energy provided the students with a new vision of the environment we are living in, addressing the complexity and interrelation of population growth, environmental degradation and scarcity of our natural resources on Earth.

A first joint Summer School on “Climate Change Response Strategies for Sustainable Land Use and Water Management” was conducted in cooperation with professors from the Brandenburg Technical University, Cottbus – Senftenberg last September. The Summer School focused on sustainable development and climate change including climate change response strategies, emerging issues on environmental law and environmental assessment with a focus on sustainable land and water management.

Caption: Students during the workshop

© GUtech: Text: Dr. Manuela Gutberlet/ Photo: Umaima Al Zadjali

 

Geography Students from RWTH Aachen University explore student life at GUtech

HALBAN Five Bachelor students from the Geography Department of RWTH Aachen University (Germany) have visited the German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) today. The students were especially interested in student life on campus. After a small tour around campus, they spoke to students from different departments about their studies and life on campus.

The students are studying Applied Geography at RWTH Aachen University, GUtech’s partner-university. They are part of a group of 20 students who are currently conducting a geography field-excursion on urban developments in different Gulf countries including Oman. The excursion is headed by Prof. Dr. Carmella Pfaffenbach, Head of Cultural Geography at RWTH Aachen University along with Aysha Farooq, PhD candidate at the Department and GUtech alumna.

“There is an open atmosphere here on campus. I like the amphitheatre and the overall architecture. It is not anonymous and students have good contacts with other students and with their professors,” said Kai. After several conversations with Omani and international students, Chiara said that she could imagine studying at GUtech for one semester. All the students said that the people are very friendly in Oman. They also liked the diverse and beautiful landscape. About student life on campus they realized that “GUtech students are very connected to the university,” said Fabienne. Asked whether she would like to return and conduct an internship at GUtech, she said that she would like to explore the world and rather conduct a world tour after her upcoming Bachelor thesis. “It is interesting to be here in Oman, but I never travel twice to the same location. As long as it is possible, I would like to continue doing that,” said Finja.

Caption: RWTH Aachen students Chiara, Fabienne, Kai, Geri and Finja visited GUtech today

(c) Photo & Text: Dr. Manuela Gutberlet

Train the Trainers’ Workshop at RWTH Aachen University

A didactical E-learning and teaching workshop for academics

HALBAN In our digital age, we are using the internet all the time. Within the fast-changing digital environment, university academics need to adjust and adapt their ways of teaching. A group of seven professors and lecturers from the German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) have participated in a special one week ‘Train the Trainers’ Workshop on “Excellence in Teaching” recently.

“The main aim of the workshop was to offer continuing education and to introduce new teaching tools and techniques,” said Prof. Dr.-Ing. Michael Modigell, Rector at GUtech. The workshop was held at the Department of Engineering Hydrology at GUtech’s partner-university RWTH Aachen University in Germany. The ‘Train the Trainers’ workshop’ was part of the Step2Future initiative to enhance cooperation between Germany and the Sultanate of Oman. The programme is funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). The workshop covered a wide range of didactical tools including e-learning systems, such as the Learning Management System Moodle, Massive Open Online Courses, Open Education Resources, Media Didactic Concepts and Video Production as well as the Gamification of Lectures and Constructive Alignment.

„It was a very successful week. The participants were eager to learn and we are confident that the gained knowledge can be successfully used in the different courses at GUtech. Furthermore, the participants will act as multiplicators at GUtech, passing on their knowledge to other academics in their faculties.” said Prof. Dr. Heribert Nacken, Head of the Hydrology Department and the Rectorate’s Delegate for Blended Learning and Exploratory Teaching Space at RWTH Aachen University. “The knowledge and skills we obtained during the training workshop are very useful and will enable us to cope with the latest trends in the field of higher education. Certainly, we will apply our knowledge acquired in the courses that we teach. This will certainly benefit GUtech students.” said Prof. Dr. Osman Barghouth, Head of the Department of Logistics, Tourism and Service Management. “The next step is to establish a medium in order to transfer our knowledge and to adapt to our university environment. We already had a first meeting and we are working on an agenda to implement different teaching tools within our ongoing seminars and lectures,” said Prof Ercan Agirbas of the Department of Urban Planning and Architectural Design (UPAD) at GUtech.

 

Providing students with life-changing experiences

GUtech and Outward Bound Oman conducted a joint Life Skills Course

HALBAN To enhance the student’s individual life skills, the German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) and Outward Bound Oman (OBO) have conducted a theoretical and practical course for GUtech students during the winter semester. The main aim of the course was to develop to students’ personal and professional life skills, e.g. leadership, teamwork and problem-solving skills through practical and theoretical and parts. The practical parts were held during an excursion to Wadi Al Abyad while the theory was taught at GUtech. In 2018, a Collaborative Agreement (CA) was signed between GUtech and OBO. “It was an amazing experience for our students to spend four days outside, sleeping in tents, going on demanding hikes and cooking for the entire group. It was a physical and mental challenge for them. But with the help of the highly qualified OBO Instructors, every single student succeeded. The combination of being pushed to the limits, participating in fun games, discussing the challenges of today’s youth, and being free from distractions has provided our students with a life-changing experience. OBO plays a key role in providing young people with the skills needed to take the lead for their own lives, their career and their future,” said Prof. Dr. Armin Eberlein, Vice-Rector for Academic Affairs at GUtech. The Engineering and Computer Sciences Departments offer a special course to all GUtech students preparing them for their employment.

Mark Evans, Executive Director of Outward Bound Oman said that ‘working with the students from GUtech is always an enriching experience for the team at Outward Bound Oman. As we strive to support His Majesty Sultan Haitham Bin Tariq’s government in preparing the national talent for Vision 2040, working with young people with such rich potential is inspiring. One of the key outcomes from the recent World Economic Forum was that agility of thought is one of the key skills for the future, something that our courses demand of all participants; GUtech students possess that agility in abundance.’

“We believe that such course is very important in order to achieve their goals and to be successful in the future,” said Ali Al Humairi, senior lecturer and course coordinator of the Life Skills course. In the first part of the course, GUtech staff delivered the theory, whilst the OBO team organized the relevant field-based elements outside the university, during the excursion. Throughout the seminar, key-life skills such as responsibility, engagement in learning and work, creative thinking and problem solving, innovative thinking, leadership, time management, study attitude towards mistakes, planning, communication and teamwork skills were discussed. “The course helps students to enhance their future employment, as well as to equip them with vital project management skills,” said Ali Al-Humairi. “The experience with OBO was one of a kind. It is really good for our students to have time to develop and experience something outside there comfort zone. I loved the open discussion with the students which will defiantly impact on future plans and the way they will handle things personally and professionally. In my opinion, the activities expanded the mindset of all participants through the ways they connected the different activities with our everyday lives. It was really amazing,” said Umai al Balushi, supervisor of the group and employee at the IT Department at GUtech.

 

 

First International Symposium on Contemporary Earthen Building launched

“Earth is a material with deep historical relevance in Oman”

HALBAN To raise awareness about Earth as an abundant, sustainable, and eco-friendly building product creating zero CO2 emissions, the 1st International Symposium on Contemporary Earthen Building in Oman (EBI) was launched at the German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) today morning. The two-day symposium gathers international experts in the field of Earthen Building. It aims to create a platform for discussion and exchange between the academia, the government and the industry.

“Earth is a material with deep historical relevance in Oman. It is in the DNA of Oman. Yet, despite the countless examples of earth buildings, it is little discussed or permitted as a material for present-day construction. This despite the proven benefits to air quality, recyclability and low-embodied energy,” said Professor Wayne Switzer from the Department of Urban Planning and Architectural Design (UPAD) who has initiated the two-day Symposium. According to a recent study, if 50% of the residential construction would be substituted with Earthen material in Oman, around 2.2 million tonnes of cement and 1.3 million tonnes of CO2 emissions could be potentially saved annually, said Prof. Wayne. The Rector of GUtech, Prof. Dr. Ing. Michael Modigell inaugurated the Symposium. He highlighted the importance of the Symposium, enhancing awareness about the production and the use of more environmental-friendly construction materials while substituting cement one of the main contributors of CO2 emissions. “The construction sector is responsible for one-third of the total CO2 emissions worldwide while also producing 30% of the total waste globally,” said Nicolas Coeckelberghs, architect and co-founder of BC architects 2/05 in Brussels, Belgium. “Earthen plasters provide better air quality, better acoustics, regulate humidity,” he said. According to Nicolas, in Belgium, only 37 million tonnes of Earth are excavated each year which can be used as a construction material. The amount is equivalent to 1 million trucks. To create awareness for architects and to learn how to construct Earthen buildings with earth bricks and clay concrete, his company has been organizing community workshops in Belgium as well abroad, e.g. for communities in Nigeria and Morocco.

To promote Earthen Building in Germany, official rules and regulations for Earthen architecture were introduced by Dachverband Lehm e.V., the German Association for Building with Earth. Currently, Earth is used as a construction and conservation material in Germany, said Stephan Jörchel from the German Association for Building with Earth. According to the EU action plan for a Circular Economy recyclable and environmental-friendly raw materials must be used. During his presentation, Stephan Jörchel also showed examples of earthen paint and earth plaster finish on a wall heating system.

The first day of the Symposium features presentations from experts, discussions and critical reflection. The second day will include hands-on demonstrations and a participatory workshop in the Engineering Workshop. Experts from Germany, Spain, and Belgium will be on hand to demonstrate and present how different building techniques are already being implemented and regulated. The symposium is the first event in a larger initiative on Earthen Building in Oman, which was recently launched at GUtech in 2017 when students constructed an Earthen Tower on campus.

For more information please visit https://ebi.gutech.edu.om or follow us @ebi_oman

(c) GUtech: Text Dr Manuela Gutberlet; Photo: Fatma Al Balushi

Siemens Mechatronic training laboratory opens

HALBAN The first Siemens Mechatronics Laboratory in Oman was inaugurated at the German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) on Wednesday 29 January. GUtech has dedicated a lab facility within its campus, equipped by Siemens. The laboratory will serve as a training center for students and professionals to complete two levels in the Siemens Mechatronic Systems Certification Program (SMSCP).

“Siemens is dedicated to promoting human capital development and local capacity building to help in fulfilling Oman’s economic development plans and implementing Industry 4.0 solutions,” said Claudia Vergueiro Massei, CEO of Siemens in Oman while adding: “We are pleased to collaborate with GUtech to bring Mechatronic training to Omani youth, offering students the opportunity to pursue this globally recognized certification that will ultimately help them contribute to Oman’s development goals.”

Mechatronics is the combination of mechanical, electrical and computer software technologies as well as control and systems theory into a single system used in production and manufacturing. In practical terms, Mechatronics raises the bar for Industry 4.0 by offering a holistic, hands-on approach to automation that can improve efficiency, productivity and quality and ultimately decrease time to market. Industries that benefit greatly from a Mechatronics system include aerospace, materials processing, machine building, automotive, transportation, building technologies and mining.

To train students interested in advancing their skills in automation and manufacturing, two academic professors from GUtech have received the Instructor SMSCP Certification Course (Level 1 and 2) at the Siemens Sitrain Training Center in Nürnberg, Germany, in 2018. GUtech and Siemens began in 2017 their collaboration on the academic program that will provide advanced learning and certification opportunities for engineering students and professionals in the Sultanate. The Mechatronics Certification courses, designed to be integrated into the university’s existing curriculum, will be offered to GUtech students in two levels. Each level of the certification is based on a job profile, which is developed by Siemens in collaboration with other industry and public sector partners.

“We are celebrating a moment of academia-industry collaboration that aims to train school leavers, students, graduates and to upskill the industrial workforce in a state of art equipped lab. The awarded certificate, which is according to an industry-driven job profile, is recognized worldwide. As part of our commitment in supporting the community, we have decided to give a scholarship discount of 30-50% to the students. We want to contribute in capacity-building, preparing the local community for the transition towards the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” said Prof. Dr. Najah Al Mhanna, Head of the Engineering Department at GUtech.

The laboratory at GUtech includes all the equipment needed to complete the first two levels of Siemens’ internationally recognized certification program. Students who complete the first level will be gain the Siemens Certified Mechatronic Systems Assistant, with skills that would help them carry out their work at plant assembly sites, workshops or in connections with service operations which utilize complex mechatronic systems. Level 2 holders will be Siemens Certified Mechatronic Systems Associate, and they can manage, investigate, repair and troubleshoot mechatronic systems, with the aim of operational efficiency and cost and process control. They would usually carry out their work at production facilities, workshops, or in service sites that use complex mechatronic systems.

Siemens is the only global industrial company to offer this program in cooperation with partner colleges and universities throughout the Middle East, Europe, North America, Asia and Africa. Under the agreement, GUtech will be the first university in Oman to offer the training and join an international network of advanced technology partners in education and industry working with Siemens to deliver these certifications.