Success stories from GUtech’s Department of Urban Planning and Architecture

HALBAN To highlight the successful development of the German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) over the past decade, Prof. Nikolaus Knebel, one of the founding staff of the Department of Urban Planning and Architectural Design (UPAD), published a book to summarize his approach to educating architects and urban planners in Oman. “While the professional realm of architects and urban planners is still emerging in Oman my teaching emphasizes what is usually rather at opposite ends of academic education, namely the real and the theoretical.”, said Prof. Nikolaus Knebel.

Prof. Knebel’s book on “Ten Projects on Educating Architects in Oman” is currently presented at the Muscat International Book Fair, Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre. The book discusses ten study projects, each characterized by a verb that stands for the main activity: find, plan, try, make, engage, build, explore, sense, reflect, envision. One set of projects aims to expose students to primary experiences that are relevant for architects and urban planners, such as working with real materials and real sites, e.g. when students learn how to mix mortar, lay mud-bricks in a bond, ram earth, use natural stones, cut and join timber, and test palm leaves as a roof cover. “With that hands-on experience of using different tools, handling materials and understanding processes on site, students then set out to design a new prayer room for GUtech’s sports facilities,” said Prof. Nikolaus Knebel. Students also meet with professionals from the consulting and construction industry to get to know the everyday problems that architects and urban planners face while doing their everyday work. Projects such as the award-winning EcoHaus, the research into the Social Housing Project, the setting up of a building yard on campus are preparing students for their future jobs.

In another set of projects Prof. Nikolaus Knebel focuses on continuously building up the students’ theoretical knowledge. “Our projects like the experimental design workshops with the Architectural Association in London and my emphasis on reading and discussion key theoretical texts during our excursions to the UAE and Qatar in recent years or in seminars on Design Thinking aim at nurturing a fundamental knowledge that underlies architectural practice regardless of the fashion of the season,” he said. “Throughout the past years we visited different projects in Qatar, UAE, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands to understand the practical and theoretical challenges of current topics such as identity, community, mobility, energy and digitalization. Students saw gigantic new airports and miniature prayer rooms, solar cars and passive energy saving houses, student companies and multinational architecture firms, but they also read the key texts.” Finally through reflection about their own work and skills, awareness is created about the entire design process. “Students become more confident, and thus more agile designers, individually and collectively” highlighted Prof. Knebel.

Successful GUtech graduates from the Department of Urban Planning and Architectural Design (UPAD) have moved on in their educational path and completed their Master’s degree abroad, for example in Germany, France, Italy, UK, US, South Korea. Some already embarked on PhD programmes. Many graduates now work as architects in Oman and the region, independently or in the government sector, such as the planning departments of different ministries in Oman, the Supreme Council for Planning in Muscat or with prestigious local consultants such as Khatib & Alami, Atkins, 23 degrees or Hoehler & Salmi Architects. Soon, fresh graduates and professionals can earn a Master’s degree in architecture and urban planning, at GUtech in Oman. Admission into the programme is open and scholarships are available.

(c) GUtech, Text & Photo: Prof. Nikolaus Knebel and Dr. Manuela Gutberlet

 

weDrone – Business Forum at GUtech on 27 February

HALBAN The German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) will hold the “weDrone – Business Forum” on Wednesday 27 February at its campus in Halban. The forum, organized for the second time by GUtech, will be held in cooperation with the Public Authority for Civil Aviation (PACA) and the local company Brave Hawks LLC. The forum aims to bring together experts and scientists from the local and international drone sector. In April 2018 GUtech was the first institution in Oman to address the increasingly important topic of drones. “We are engaging with different stakeholders from Oman as well as from abroad to create awareness about the local legal framework, the management of space where drones are operating, and some critical uses of drones including the inspection and surveillance. During the upcoming event we would like to showcase the different potentials of drones for Oman and we wish to motivate the government, businesses and the education sector to collaborate and create joint competencies for the production and the use of drones in Oman,” said Prof. Dr. Nafaa Jabeur, a drone expert and the main organizer from the Department of Computer Sciences and Director of Research at GUtech. “Oman is in the first stage of developing a drone industry, the usage of drones and the legal framework that fit to the local and regional context. The use of drones is not only about regulations but most important about a responsible, ethical use and behaviour when using drone technologies,” said Prof. Dr. Nafaa Jabeur.

Other topics that will be covered during the upcoming weDrone Business Forum will be the application of drones to support sustainable energy management or logistics. Currently drones are used to monitor operations in the oil and gas industry as well as in agriculture, construction and filming. For the professional use of drones there is a legal framework in place, however regulations regarding the use by laymen and hobbyists are under review by the government.

For more details on the Business Forum please check out the website: wedrone.gutech.edu.om

The participation in the forum is free of charge. The registration is open until 26 February.

(C) Text: GUtech/Dr. Manuela Gutberlet

 

 

The Rector meets with the Vice-President of the Bundestag

BERLIN The Rector of GUtech, Prof. Dr. Ing. Michael Modigell, had the honour to meet with H.E. Thomas Oppermann, Vice-President of the German Bundestag (Parliament) at his office in the capital Berlin last week. During the bilateral meeting they discussed ways to further strengthen the ties between GUtech and Germany. During an official visit to the Sultanate, the Vice-President of the Bundestag visited the GUtech campus and spoke with the Rectorate and with a number of students from the Student Council last October.

 

‘Building Embassy’ – An architecture student project

HALBAN As part of an integrated project, entitled ‘Botschaft-Bauen’, in English ‘Embassy building’, a total of 44 students of the Department of Urban Planning and Architectural Design (UPAD) planned and designed a new Turkish Embassy building during the winter semester. The group of UPAD students included four German exchange students from the University of Applied Sciences in Buxtehude and from RWTH Aachen University, who are currently studying at GUtech. “I am very much impressed of the projects inspired by the Turkish architecture, houses, and the culture like the evil eye, the whirling derwishes or the Turkish yali, a mansion beside the waterfront. I would like to congratulate all students,” said H.E. Ayşe Sözen Usluer, Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey in Oman. The Ambassador attended one of the presentation sessions. First Counsellor at the German Embassy the creative ideas as well as the technical skills of the students are impressive. It was a pleasure to discuss the designs with both the students and their professors. Kudos to GUtech for producing such quality!” said Joachim Düster.

During the initial phase of the course the students and their professors discussed different aspects of Embassy buildings. “An Embassy is a representation of a nation, a symbol for cultural exchange, a place of refuge for citizens and it is like an island, isolated from the rest of the city,” said Prof. Ercan Agirbas while Prof. Wayne Switzer of the UPAD department added: “An Embassy is a place and at the same time an Embassy means building diplomacy with another country. On the one hand an Embassy is the face of a nation and on the other hand this representation must be balanced with real issues of security.” To learn more about the design of different Embassies in Muscat, the group visited the German and the French Embassy in the beginning of the semester. For the presentation of their results, all Ambassadors were invited and the cultural attaches from France, Turkey and from the German Embassy attended different sessions where the students recently presented their final results. In addition, the students also traveled to Istanbul last semester. The excursion was an important part, where they experienced the place in reality. Moreover, the project manager of the newly build German Embassy from Hoehler + AlSalmy Architects, Daniel Schulze-Wethmar attended the sessions. “Each students had 5 minutes to present and 10 minutes for the discussion. Drawings, models and renderings like physical or digital models were presented,” said Prof. Ercan.

“We had very diverse projects related to aspects of Turkish culture like the evil eye, domes etc. One design was buried in the ground and another one was floating over a garden. What made every project very good was the level of engagement of the students and how they were committed to the task,” said Wayne. Both professors stressed that “there were many best ideas, for example the most creative ideas or the most rational layout.” Currently, an architecture office is working on the design of the Turkish Embassy, possibly some student ideas will influence their planning process.

(c) GUtech/ Text: Dr. Manuela Gutberlet; Photo: UPAD Department

 

GUtech’s MSc in Computer Sciences: Innovation, IT Technology Management and Data Sciences

HALBAN The new Master of Science programme in Computer Sciences at GUtech takes advantage of the strategic direction of the Sultanate of Oman towards industrialisation and entrepreneurship in the field of Information Technology. GUtech’s Department of Computer Sciences will start the MSc programme in March 2019; partial scholarships are available. “The programme provides a unique, comprehensive curriculum consisting of theoretical and applied knowledge of Computer Sciences, IT technology management and emerging technologies in large data processing and analysis. The subjects taught include machine learning, big data analytics, and network forensic as well as network security. By choosing a specialisation, students can prepare for their favourite career paths. In addition, GUtech has signed a ‘Study Abroad’ agreement with Hasselt University in Belgium, which allows students to take one additional semester and earn a second Master degree in Transportation Science. Possible future career paths are as transportation planners, traffic safety consultants or a managers of public transportation companies,” said Prof. Dr. Nabil Sahli, Head of the Department of Computer Sciences at GUtech, while adding that the MSc programme is tailored to equip the students with entrepreneurial skills matching the national priorities for a profitable and sustainable growth.

The MSc programme is designed for fresh graduates and working professionals having Bachelor degrees in Computer Science, Information Science, or an equivalent degree with a solid background in programming and software development skills. “Classes will be held during the week between 4 and 7 pm and on weekends. International faculty members from GUtech, RWTH Aachen University as well as from Belgium and Canada will teach the programme. Admissions for students with alternative qualifications are subject to the outcome of an interview,” said Prof. Dr. Nabil Sahli.

For more details, please visit the GUtech website: https://www.gutech.edu.om/master-programmes/ or contact Prof. Dr. Nabil Sahli by email to pg@gutech.edu.om.

© Text & Photo: GUtech

 

GUtech and Vienna University of Economics and Business launch a double degree MBA programme

HALBAN The German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) has launched a part-time double-degree MBA programme in cooperation with Vienna University of Economics and Business (WU) in Austria. The study-programme will start this year. “The MBA programme came to complement the undergraduate programmes that we are currently offering and to fill a gap in the post graduate market in Oman,” said Prof. Dr. Heba Aziz, Dean of the Faculty of Business and Economics at GUtech and Academic Director of the newly launched MBA programme.

Established in 1898 and founded as the Imperial Transport University, Vienna University of Economics and Business is one of the largest and leading business universities in Europe. The university has a well-established, very international student and academic body. “International mobility of faculty and students is part of our institution. Working on an educational level together with Oman will enhance our cooperation on a business level as well,” said Prof. Dr. Barbara Stöttinger, Dean of Vienna University of Economics and Business, the WU Executive Academy. The MBA will cover general management topics such as entrepreneurship, finance, marketing and logistics. “The MBA has been designed for students who have demanding full-time jobs and are in managerial positions. We are looking forward to linking the Omani society and GUtech with Austria and enable the MBA students to study a modul at our university. GUtech is planning to offer the MBA on part-time over a period of 18 months; modules will be taught four days a week from Thursday to Sunday. The MBA will offer specialisations in the fields of logistics, tourism and entrepreneurship,” said Dr. Astrid Kleinhanns-Rollé, Managing Director of the WU Executive Academy.

For further details please contact GUtech: admissions@gutech.edu.om

 

Students from the French School in Muscat learn about Smart Cities

HALBAN As part of the university’s local community engagement, a group of fifteen international students and two teachers from the French High School in Muscat visited the GUtech campus today morning. They met with different professors from the Department of Urban Planning and Architectural Design (UPAD) and the Department of Computer Sciences (CS).

Prof. Dr. Nabil Sahli, Head of the CS Department, gave an introduction to the concept of smart cities and the future of cities worldwide. He also elaborated on smart transportation and the social aspects impacting societies in smart urban developments.

Amal Al Balushi and Olivera Petrovic, both from the Department of Urban Planning and Architectural Design at GUtech then spoke about the work and responsibilities of urban planners and they showcased some recent students’ works to the group. After a short tour around the GUtech campus, the group visited the EcoHaus where they met with Prof. Nikolaus Knebel from the UPAD Department (pictured). He elaborated on the architecture design of the EcoHaus and several smart interior design features such as the cooling system, the solid wall insulation and the recyclable building materials.

© GUtech/ Dr. Manuela Gutberlet

 

Creating Awareness on Electric Transportation – The eMobility Forum held

HALBAN To create awareness on electric mobility in Oman and to bring together various stakeholders from the public and private sector, the eMobility Forum Oman was held at the Hormuz Grand Hotel in Muscat today. GUtech was the official Academic Partner of the event, which was organised by GlobalEVRT.

The electrification of the transport system is seen as one of the best ways to improve the overall quality of the environment, to increase the air quality and to lower global CO2 emissions. Dr. Oualid Ali, Director of Training and Smart Solutions Centre (TSSC) at GUtech and Founder and President of the Future Cities Council gave one of the keynote speeches entitled “Electric vehicles for future smart and sustainable cities: opportunities and challenges for Oman”. In his talk he mentioned some of the challenges facing Oman, such as the implementation of governmental regulations, the citizen’s adaptation of electric vehicles as well as the infrastructure upgrade including charging stations that need to be set up all over the country. According to Dr. Oualid, there are currently twelve existing charging stations for electric cars between Dubai and Muscat. “The network of charging stations is a very important factor,” said Sam Alawiye, CEO of Green Parking while adding that Dubai has one of the largest numbers of charging stations worldwide. “Our company’s goal is to provide charging stations all over the GCC region along with parking facilities so that it is possible to drive from Riyadh to Salalah within a network of charging stations based in commercial centres and hotels,” said Alawiye. On the sidelines of the event, the participants had the chance to test-drive one of the latest electric car models from Renault, GM, Chevrolet and Tesla.

© GUtech/ text & photo: Dr. Manuela Gutberlet

 

GUtech signs MoU with the Department of Architecture, Buxtehude University of Applied Sciences (Germany)

HALBAN The Department of Urban Planning and Architectural Design (UPAD) of the German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Buxtehude University of Applied Sciences (Hochschule 21) in Germany. The university is specialized in the fields of Building Sciences, Technical Sciences, and Health Sciences. The Department of Architecture at Hochschule 21 offers a four year Bachelor of Engineering programme in Architecture, combining theory and continuous practice at architecture offices for two to three months each semester. “In the frame of an exchange programme funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) entitled ‘University Dialogue with the Islamic World’ our universities have been working in cooperation with each other, in the past two years. During that time we conducted a project on the duality of professional practise in architecture. Due to its success we wish to extend and enhance our cooperation in all fields, including student and staff exchange as well as in research during the next five years,” said Prof. Dr. Ing. Karsten Ley, who is an urban planner, architect and the Head of the Department of Architecture at Buxtehude University of Applied Sciences. Prof. Dr. Karsten Ley has been working as a regular fly-in professor at GUtech since the foundation of the GUtech in 2007.

A group of twenty architecture students and professors from Buxtehude University of Applied Sciences visited GUtech and a group of GUtech students and their UPAD professors visited the university in Germany last year. Three German students are currently studying in the 5th and 7th semester in UPAD at GUtech. In the next semester three students will conduct their BSc thesis at Buxtehude University of Applied Sciences. “We are looking forward to strengthen our cooperation in the coming years. In the next year a small group of students will conduct their Bachelor thesis at Buxtehude University of Applied Sciences,” said Prof. Dr. Gustavo De Siquiera, Head of the UPAD Department at GUtech. “The project will be applied research and conducted for the Ministry of Environment Schleswig-Holstein in cooperation with two other Universities of Applied Sciences,” added Prof. Dr. Karsten Ley. GUtech students will get some insights and benefit from an international research environment and architectural research practises in Germany.

“Our university focuses on application-oriented courses. Therefore the students are well prepared for their professional lives in their field,” said Prof. Karsten Ley. Buxtehude University of Applied Sciences was re-founded as a private university in 2004, looking back at a continuous tradition as academic institution that originally started in 1875. Currently a total of 1,100 are studying at the university, including 200 students at the Department of Architecture. The University is located in the Hanseatic City of Buxtehude, in the greater Hamburg Metropolitan Area and the wider region of the rivers Elbe and Weser in Northern Germany.

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

 

GUtech will partner with the eMobility Forum in Muscat

HALBAN To enhance awareness on electric cars and the electric mobility in the region, the German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) is proud to be the official Academic Partner of the second annual eMobility Forum Oman to be held on 20 January in Muscat.

When asked about the collaboration with GUtech, Ben Pullen, CEO of Global EVRT, said: “We are thrilled to be partnering with GUtech for our second eMobility Forum Oman. The event is designed to help business and government leaders understand the coming wave of disruptive innovation being unleashed by electric vehicles. The global shift to electric mobility is an inevitability and the forum will help ensure that Oman does not get left behind.”

Dr. Oualid Ali, Director of Training and Smart Solutions Centre (TSSC) at GUtech will give one of the keynote speeches on smart cities entitled “Electric vehicles for future smart and sustainable cities: opportunities and challenges for Oman”. “In my talk I will present the challenges and opportunities of the adoption of electric vehicles in the capital Muscat and overall in Oman. As examples of such challenges, I would like to mention the so-called ‘government buy-in’, in terms of regulation and the ‘citizen buy-in’ and adoption of electric vehicles and the infrastructure upgrade such as charging stations.” Said Dr. Oualid. In addition, students from the Mechanical Engineering Club at GUtech will have the chance to test-drive some of the latest electric car models from Renault, GM, Chevrolet and Tesla.

For more information check out the following links:

Register here: https://www.evrtmiddleeast.com/forum-tickets

Media pass: https://www.evrtmiddleeast.com/press-registration

 

© GUtech/ Text: Dr. Manuela Gutberlet, photo: provided by GlobalEVRT