GUtech will hold an International Symposium on Contemporary Earthen Building

HALBAN GUtech is pleased to announce the 1st International Symposium on Contemporary Earthen Building in Oman to be held at GUtech on 10 and 11 February. Registration is now open.  “Our upcoming symposium aims to be a platform for an informative exchange. It is the first event in a larger initiative on Earthen Building in Oman which was recently launched at GUtech to create awareness about earth as an abundant, sustainable and beautiful building product,” said Assistant Professor Wayne Switzer from the Department of Urban Planning and Architectural Design (UPAD) at GUtech. “Earth is a material with deep historical relevance in Oman. Yet, despite the countless examples of earth buildings in the region, it is hardly discussed, let alone permitted, as a material for present-day construction. This despite the proven benefits to air quality, recyclability and low-embodied energy,” said Prof. Wayne. The first day will feature presentations from experts, roundtable discussions, and critical reflection. The second day will feature hands-on demonstrations and a participatory workshop.

The Symposium will include architects, governmental officials, and industry partners who will have the opportunity to discuss the potentials for Earthen construction to enable a healthy, sustainable building industry. “Guest experts from Germany, Spain, and Belgium will be on hand to demonstrate and present how these techniques are already being implemented and regulated,” said Prof. Wayne Switzer.

For more information and to register for the Symposium please visit: https://ebi.gutech.edu.om or follow us @ebi_oman

UPAD students study circular construction and examples of revitalization in architecture

HALBAN Sponsored by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), a group of 15 students from the Department of Urban Planning and Architectural Design (UPAD) recently travelled to Europe to study the potentials of reusing or revitalizing existing architecture built in Europe. The group led by Assistant Prof. Wayne Switzer, visited metropoles like Berlin and Brussels as well as smaller German cities like Cologne, Düren and Aachen. “Our students were encouraged to think in a circular, rather than linear way.  We identified and visited not only buildings but also architectural practices which are engaged in resourceful design to minimize waste and embrace historical change,” said Assistant Prof. Wayne. At GUtech’s German partner-university RWTH Aachen University, the students were involved in a three-day workshop along with Master students from the chair of Cycle-Oriented Construction, Department of Architecture. During this collaboration, the students experimented with natural substances such as reed, hair or clay as a building material, which reinforced creative solutions when regarding the sustainability of buildings. “No buildings ever disappear, rather they are either disassembled and re-used or they become someone else’s problem, in the form of waste,” said Assistant Prof. Wayne.  “It was great for us to see all the buildings in reality that we have been studying since the first semester. Every day we visited a different place. This widened our perspectives on the architecture and on sustainable construction,” said Noorayn Al Busaidi, 4th year UPAD student.

In the German capital Berlin the group visited a number of old and new buildings including the ‘House of Statistics’ (in German: ‘Haus der Statistik’), a multi-purpose building in the central district of Mitte that was used as the State Central Administration for Statistics of the GDR. A community action group that includes politicians, city planners and architects have regenerated the buildings that have been empty for over a decade. Now concerts, experimental theatre and exhibitions are conducted there. The group also visited the ‘Chapel of Reconciliation’ (in German: Kapelle der Versöhnung) built on the grounds of the former path of the Berlin Wall using earth from the very site of a formerly demolished church. In Brussels, the group met with a group of architects called ‘Rotor’, who sell salvaged building components and also reclaim buildings that are not used.

The group of students will exhibit their work and findings of the excursion during an exhibition held at GUtech’s architectural studios, from the 1st of January onwards. The exhibition will run throughout the semester.

(c) Text & Photo: Dr. Manuela Gutberlet and Prof. Wayne Switzer

 

Remote work: Computer Science Students work in various projects for the Finnish Company Trimedia

HALBAN Two Computer Science graduates have recently started their remote work at GUtech on web-based projects with the Finnish Online-Marketing company Trimedia in Jyvaskyla, located in the Mid-West of Finland. “Through our work, we gain some more work experiences and understanding of the local GCC, the Finnish and European market,” said Maram Mohammed, GUtech CS alumna.  Maram and Maha Al Busaidi have started their ‘remote internship’ beginning of December. They work on website and mobile applications and web development. GUtech has opened up a small office for the students to work remotely for the Finnish company Trimedia.

“Initially, the students had to apply with their CV, a motivational letter, and prepare a presentation that will demonstrate their technical knowledge and soft skills. Also, the students had to pass the first interview and the technical test in GUtech. Then, the student will be qualified for the second interview with our partner, Trimedia. Our Computer Science alumna have shown the exceptional abilities to analyse technical issues, to quickly understand the core of problems and they were able to develop solutions within short time. Also we need to mention that our students have impressed our partner with their work attitude and with meeting the highest quality standards. They have also shown their ability to work independently with great creativity and enthusiasm with very little supervision,” said Ali Al-Humairi, Computer Science Department at GUtech.

“We are pleased to involve GUtech alumna in our company. This is our first experience with remote work,” said Arto Saksola, CEO of Trimedia who is currently on a visit to GUtech. Oman Educational Services (OES), the mother company that owns GUtech has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Trimedia Finland in October last year. The main objective of the cooperation is to support GUtech’s efforts to link the Department of Computer Sciences with international companies. “With our cooperation with Trimedia we would like to promote start-up businesses in Oman and in the region, while fostering inter-cultural exchange between Oman and Scandinavia. Finland is one of the European leaders in start-ups, especially in the field of computer programming and gaming. We wish that our students gain hands-on experiences and apply and multiply their knowledge here in Oman,” said Ahmed Al Salmi, CEO of OES. Mr Arto initiated the internship along with Ahmed Al Salmi, Ali Al-Humairi from GUtech and Juho Alpua from The Finland Oman School (FOS). In the next six months, the Computer Science graduates will work on different projects. “In Computer Sciences it is very common to work remotely. We have regular conversations online and we are always there to help the students whenever they have a question. So far, we are very pleased with the outcome of the first internship month,” said Arto Saksola.

The students also enjoy their work experience with the Finnish company. “It is not difficult for us being away from the company. We are part of GUtech. The tasks given to us have been a lot of fun and a very good experience,” said Maram. “Working remotely can be less stressful compared to working within a company,” said Maha who remembers her internship time at Oxy Oman, where she worked on rick scheduling for two months. For the Finnish company it is a new intercultural experience to welcome two Omani students within their team. “99% of the time, we are speaking Finnish at our office,” said Arto, who added that he and his colleagues have been impressed by the students’ language, communication and programming skills. “We are also planning to send the students to Finland in order to experience first-hand our work-environment,” said Arto. The students Maha and Maram are also planning to continue their studies with a MSc programme, at GUtech or abroad. Within GUtech the students are supervised by Ali Humairi from the CS Department.

German Poetry Competition and Learning about Christmas Traditions

HALBAN The German Language Unit (GLU) of GUtech has invited a group of students from Al Amal School in Barka to meet with GUtech students and learn more about Christmas traditions in Germany. The visit of Al Amal School to GUtech is part of GUtech’s continuous efforts to connect with the community in Oman. “Our GUtech students and students from Al Amal School were involved in a German poem competition. I am also very proud to welcome Lubna Al Balushi, an Omani poet, who has been writing German poems since she started to learn the language. Lubna accepted my invitation to read the first poem of her book to our students and staff,” said Dr. Florina Dauberschmidt, German Lecturer and Coordinator at the GUtech German Language Unit.

Among the winners of the poetry competition was Aisha Al Nasseri from Al Amal School, 12 grade. She wrote a poem about herself. “My mother encouraged me to write and it was a great experience to write in German,” she said while adding that she would like to study abroad, maybe in Germany and to become a medical doctor or a pilot later on. Arwa Al Farsi, Environmental Engineering Student at GUtech wrote a poem about the sea: “The sea is my favourite place to relax,” she said. “All poems of the students were really good, it was difficult for us to select the winners,” said Dr. Florina.

The German lecturers prepared different activities for the students. On various locations within the German Unit, the students used their different senses and learnt more about German traditions during Christmas time such as baking cookies, singing Christmas songs such as “Oh Tannenbaum” and smelling typical ‘Christmas spices’ used for various food preparations and throughout winter-time such as cinnamon and cardamom.

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

 

 

4th EU-GCC Business Forum held in Muscat: ‘Technology and Education’ and ‘Women in Technology’

GUtech participated in panel discussions on ‘Technology and Education’ and ‘Women in Technology’

MUSCAT Under the auspices of H.E. Dr. Ali Al Sunaidy, Minister of Commerce and Industry, the 4th EU-GCC Business Forum was held at the Conference and Exhibition Centre in Muscat on 11 December. The Business Forum was attended by the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Commerce, H.E. Dr. Ahmed Al Dheeb, as well as the Chairman of the Oman Chamber of Commerce, the EU Ambassador in the GCC and Ambassadors from EU countries including Germany and the GCC. From GUtech, Dr. Manuela Gutberlet, PR Manager and Alyaa Al Shanfari, GUtech alumna in BSc Computer Sciences and CEO of Beennova Oman, participated in a panel discussion on ‘Women in Technology’. Dr. Manuela Gutberlet also moderated the first panel discussion on ‘Technology and Education’.

“We had an inspirational discussion on the role of technology in education and that educators should be trained continuously and embrace technology as a life-long learning tool. Using new technologies can mean to leave the comfort zone, while empowering people in education to change, disrupt and teach differently. It was an enriching event and a great opportunity to meet business people and policy-makers from EU and GCC,” said Dr. Manuela Gutberlet. The panel on ‘Technology and Education’ included Claudia Massai, CEO of Siemens Oman as well as Sebastiano Toffaletti, Secretary-General of the European Digital SME Alliance and Mervi Jansson, CEO of Omnia Education Partnerships in Finland.

During the panel discussion on ‘Women in Technology’ different topics were discussed, e.g. on how to promote more women to lead as role-models in the field of Sciences, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Alyaa Al Shanfari, CEO of Beenova Oman and the founder of the Google Developer Group and advisor to the National Youth Commission shared her experiences in setting up her own business in Oman and in networking with others. “We also spoke about diversity at work, which includes not only women but various nationalities, educational backgrounds and age-groups. To empower more women in STEM, the introduction of a female quota in companies, institutions and universities is suggested along with a family-friendly work-environment with child day-care and more flexible working hours would help to promote and encourage more women to pursue their dream careers,” said Dr. Manuela Gutberlet. At GUtech the majority of the students studying STEM programmes are females, whereas in Europe many STEM programmes are male-dominated. 

Overall, the EU-GCC Business Forum was entitled “Technology as an enabler for future growth and prosperity” and served as a major platform for EU-GCC B2B engagement. It was held in cooperation with the GCC Secretariat, the Omani Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Ministry of Technology and Communications, Oman Supreme Council, Ithraa and Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry and all GCC Chambers of Commerce. The main objectives of the EU-GCC Business Forum were to facilitate an open dialogue between EU and GCC stakeholders, to improve mutual understanding of business practices and policy processes, to facilitate information on business and investment opportunities in the GCC and in the EU, to allow the sharing of information and expert recommendations among businesses and policy-makers as well as to facilitate market access and business cooperation. Moreover, to provide EU and GCC companies with a platform to facilitate networking and encourage them to identify and establish new and lasting trade and investment opportunities and to create an opportunity for participants to share, discuss and learn from other policy and business success stories and best practices. 

(C) GUtech: Dr. Manuela Gutberlet

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

The Rector of GUtech Met with the Vice-President of the German Bundestag

The Rector of the German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech), Prof. Dr. Ing. Michael Modigell, had the honour to meet with the Vice-President of the German Bundestag (Parliament), H.E. Thomas Oppermann at the German Bundestag (Parliament) in Berlin last week. They both discussed ways to further enhance the cooperation between GUtech and various stakeholders in Germany. “I was very pleased to meet with the Vice-President for the second time last week. We had a very good conversation on various topics related to our young, fast-growing university,” said Prof. Modigell.

The Vice-President of the Bundestag and an accompanying delegation visited GUtech in October 2018. During that visit, the Vice-President also met with two exchange students from RWTH Aachen University and with members of the GUtech Student Council.

(c) GUtech/ Text: Dr. Manuela Gutberlet

 

“Huge tsunami hit Oman 1,000 years ago”: concluded by a recent study

A natural event of similar magnitude would have devastating consequences today, warn researchers at the University of Bonn, Germany.

Prof. Dr. habil. Gösta Hoffmann from the University of Bonn (Germany) who has been teaching as a fly-in professor at the Applied Geosciences Department, German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech), has published a scientific paper along with his colleagues from the universities of Bonn, Jena, Freiburg and RWTH Aachen in the international scientific journal ‘Marine Geology’.

15-meter high waves that pushed boulders the weight of a Leopard tank inland: This is more or less how one can imagine the tsunami that hit the coast of today’s Sultanate of Oman about 1,000 years ago, as concluded by the recent study. The findings show how urgently the region needs a well-functioning early warning system. But even then, coastal residents would have a maximum of 30 minutes to get to safety in a similar catastrophe. The study will be published in the journal “Marine Geology”, but is already available online http://paleoseismicity.org/quaternary-sea-level-change-along-the-coastline-of-oman/.

Oman lies in the east of the Arabian Peninsula. The coasts of the Sultanate are repeatedly struck by tsunamis, most recently in 2013. Even with the most severe of these in recent times, the Makran event in 1945, the damage remained comparatively low. Back then, the tidal wave reached a height of three meters.

The scientists have now discovered evidence of a tsunami which is likely to have been much more powerful, with waves of up to 15 meters. For this purpose, the researchers from Bonn, Jena and Aachen concentrated their terrain investigations on a 200-kilometer coastal strip in northeastern Oman. “There we identified 41 large boulders, which were apparently carried inland by the force of the water,” explains Prof. Gösta Hoffmann from the Institute for Geosciences at the University of Bonn.

Quartz clock in the rock

Some of the boulders were probably formed when the tsunami shattered parts of the cliffs; for one of them, the largest weighing around 100 metric tons, scientists were even able to determine the exact point at which it broke off. Others show traces of marine organisms such as mussels or oysters that cannot survive on land. “Certain methods can be used to determine their time of death,” says the geologist Gösta Hoffmann. “This allowed us to establish when the boulders were washed ashore.”

The quartz crystals in the rock also represent a kind of clock: They provide information about the last time they were exposed to the sun. This allowed the scientists to deduce how long the rocks had been in the place where they were found. The scientists from Freiburg are specialists in this method. “Many of these measurements gave us a value of about 1,000 years,” emphasizes Prof. Hoffmann. “This corresponds well with the dating results of clay fragments we found in tsunami sediments. They originate from vessels used by coastal dwellers.”

The Arabian and Eurasian tectonic plates collide in the Arabian Sea. They move towards each other at a speed of about four centimeters per year. During this process, one plate slides beneath the other. Sometimes they get stuck in this subduction zone. This can cause tensions that intensify more and more over years and decades. If they suddenly come loose with a violent jolt, the water column above the plates starts to move. This can lead to the extremely destructive waves that are characteristic of tsunamis.

“So far it has been unclear to what extent the Arabian and Eurasian plates get stuck,” says Prof. Hoffmann. At the Makran event of 1945, for example, the effects were locally confined. The current findings, however, suggest that the tensions can also build up and unload on a very large scale – there is no other feasible explanation for the enormous forces at work at the time. “It is therefore extremely important that a tsunami early warning system is put in place for this region,” stresses the geologist.

Nevertheless, even a smaller tsunami would have devastating consequences today: A large part of the vital infrastructure in the Sultanate of Oman has been built near the coast, such as the oil refineries and seawater desalination plants. A well-functioning warning system can, however, at least give residents some time to get to safety. Not very much though: Tsunamis move at the speed of a passenger aircraft; in the best case, the time between the alarm and the wave’s impact would therefore be little more than 30 minutes.

Publication: Gösta Hoffmann, Christoph Grützner, Bastian Schneider, Frank Preusser and Klaus Reicherter: Large Holocene tsunamis in the northern Arabian Sea. Marine Geology, DOI: 10.1016/j.margeo.2019.106068

For more details please contact:

Dr. habil. Gösta Hoffmann,

Institute for Geosciences at the University of Bonn
Tel. +49 (0228) 73-4711
E-mail: ghoffman@uni-bonn.de

Turning Plastic Waste into Fuel – An Engineering Research Project in Cooperation with Oman Oil and Orpic Group

Promoting sustainable waste management and energy production

To reduce plastic waste, a joint research project between the Engineering Department of the German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) and the Oman Oil and Orpic Group will study the feasibility of converting plastic waste into fuel. Prof. Dr. Najah Al Mhanna, Head of the Engineering Department at GUtech and head of the research project, presented the research during a talk entitled ‘Pyrolysis of Plastic Waste to Fuel’ during the International Exhibition K2019 held in Dusseldorf (Germany) last month. With more than 230,000 visitors, the exhibition was one of the most leading events in the plastics and rubber industry worldwide.

The research project between GUtech and Oman Oil and Orpic Group is an initiative for the growth of the circular economy in the Sultanate of Oman. “Plastic waste contributes to 20% of the approximately 2 million tons of municipal solid waste every day. Oman is one of the main oil producers. Petrochemical and plastic manufacturing is the main goal of many oil-producing countries. Finding a circular solution and recycling plastic waste will make Oman setting an example in waste management, a key factor in mitigating negative effects of landfilling and increased harmful emissions from incineration,” said Prof. Dr. Najah Al Mhanna. According to research, the average per capita waste generation in Oman is more than 1.2 kg per day. The research project is scheduled to start this year and will include a group of researchers and Engineering students from GUtech.

“In August this year a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between our university and Oman Oil and Orpic Group to enhance our bilateral cooperation including research and development of new ideas,” said Prof. Dr. Najah Al Mhanna. By next year Oman Oil and Orpic will increase the production of polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) to 1.4 million tons. “Our aim is to develop an innovative process to convert plastic waste into fuel, thus providing a technical solution to one of the most persisting environmental problems in Oman and as well worldwide. The new process will offer a sustainable solution for recycling millions of tons of plastic waste, thereby reducing CO2 emissions and other chemical pollutants and creating a potential for commercialisation,” said Prof. Dr. Najah Al Mhanna. Today’s recycling infrastructure and technologies in Oman cannot yet address the challenges of processing diverse types of plastic waste. For example, mechanical recycling requires plastic waste to be sorted and reduced in size before it can be used in the production of lower value products such as carpet fibres, bags, clothes and else.

(c) GUtech, text and photo: Dr. Manuela Gutberlet and Dr. Najah Al Mhanna

 

 

GUtech Students Conducted Internships at Seifert Logistics in Germany and Poland

As part of the BSc Logistics programme, two students from the German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) have conducted a two-month internship at Seifert Logistics Group, in their offices in Germany and in Poland. Mubarak Al-Nasseri and Manaf Al Raisi are both studying Logistics in the 7th semester at GUtech. The main purpose of the internship was to learn more and understand more about how a logistics company works in Germany and in other European countries.

“During our internship, we were able to work in three different branches of Seifert Logistics Group. In the head offices in the German city of Ulm, in their branch in Jawor in Poland, and in Malsch, located in the South of Germany. I personally feel that I have received a lot of information about how logistics works. For instance, how to build-up a warehouse from scratch while considering different aspect such as the costs, design and functionality involved. During our internship we were both involved in 3D modelling warehouses, creating barcodes and in barcode scanning procedures or in creating a 2D floor-plan,” said Manaf Al Raisi. Their European colleagues at Seifert Logistics were very helpful and friendly. They introduced them to life in Germany. “I believe that my German language skills have improved because I had to practise the language. I have made many friends and I have met a lot of people from different backgrounds that helped to settle in Germany. Our colleagues also showed us around the southern part of the country. Overall, we were both enjoying the time in Europe and we are very grateful for such a special internship opportunity,” said Manaf Al Raisi.

Caption: At the head office of Seifert Logistics: Manaf Mohammed Al Raisi (second from left) and Mubarak Nasseri from GUtech along with Dario Dante Oncak (right) and Lukas Niewiara from Seifert Logistics (left)