Greening Omani Wadi Beds – An Omani-German Student Project

HALBAN A group of Urban Planning and Architectural Design students from GUtech have conducted a joint urban planning project with twelve students from the University of Technology in Dortmund (TU Dortmund) in Germany, Department of Spatial Planning. During the two week project the students have developed a water sensitive urban design and a sustainable water management system in the capital Muscat. The project was supervised by Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Scholz, Fly-in professor at GUtech and Professor at the University of Technology in Dortmund (Germany).

“Our main research question was regarding „how to integrate wadis as green public spaces into the urban structure of Muscat considering a sustainable water management and a flood protection concept. Our aims were to create a ‘Green Concept’ for the Greater Muscat Area in order to overcome the separation of neighbourhoods and to connect these neighbourhoods with each other through public green spaces within wadi beds, while making use of huge undeveloped urban areas. In addition, as a strategic approach the so-called wadi parks could replace the neighbourhood parks and create more building land in future. Moreover, a sustainable water management and flood protection system could be integrated along with flood protection measures,” said Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Scholz.

As part of the study-project the group of Omani and German students conducted various field visits to wadi Al Khoud and wadi Al Khuweir. A total of 12 urban planning proposals for creating public parks, while respecting the flood protection and low level interventions as well as the danger of destruction after a sudden flash flood during the winter months. A total of five expert interviews were conducted by the students including experts from the Botanical Garden, the Directorate of Gardens at the Ministry of Housing, the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources and Haya Water. In addition, the students conducted a questionnaire survey with inhabitants of Al Khoud and Al Khuwair and a total of 300 interviews with the local community in both areas.

Finally, the results were presented during a two-day workshop at GUtech last week. The results included shaded sitting areas and playgrounds at the fringes of the wadi and in protected areas as well as low-cost interventions in the wadi bed itself that serve as sport fields, jogging lanes and walkways. The aim was to  keep the wadi as natural as possible while protecting its functional and aesthetic aspects. The results are open to the public and interested researchers. For more details kindly contact: Wolfgang.scholz@gutech.edu.om

© GUtech/ Text: Dr. Manuela Gutberlet and Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Scholz; Photos: GUtech/ UPAD Department

Photovoltaic Training Course to Boost Oman’s Renewable Energy Sector

Halban A five-day solar photovoltaic course was held at the German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) last week. Oman’s Distribution Code Review Panel (DCRP) officially certified this technical training course. Over twenty participants from the industry, energy distribution companies and the academia (including Engineering professors from GUtech) were enrolled in the course. The course was one of four different courses currently offered by Shams Global Solutions (SGS), in partnership with Solar Energy International (SEI).

“Through our course, we are aiming to fulfil the objective of preparing locals to take up important roles in the renewable energy sector. The Shams training programme covers fundamental aspects that enhance the knowledge and capabilities of individuals and professionals,” said Dr. Firas Al-Abduwani, Co-Founder of Shams Global Solutions.

The PV101: Solar Electric Design and Installation course was developed by SEI, a photovoltaic technical training organization with over 55,000 alumni worldwide, and localized by SGS, a local Omani company offering educational and training services on sustainability. “It is a pleasant moment to realize the project and offer the first professional solar training in Oman.  The success of the training can be noticed from the motivation of the participants who have showed their interest to join our other training levels in the near future. The class was full and we have got many applications for the upcoming training. It is our honour to be one of the first participants in the capacity building of Oman in Renewable Energy Field.”

“The course gave us a strong introduction into the design and installation of solar photovoltaic power systems, including how to conduct solar site analyses, to understand equipment specifications, to correct cabling and mounting requirements, as well as the inverter selection, the interface protection and safety. We are looking forward to the other three courses SGS is offering in Oman,” said Ali Al Humairi, Lecturer in the Department of Computer Sciences at GUtech.

“It is a pleasant moment to see that we have realized the project and to offer the first professional solar training in Oman.  The success of the training can be noticed from the motivation of the participants who have showed their interest to join our other training levels in the near future. The class was full and we have got many applications for the upcoming training. It is our honour to be one of the first participants in the capacity building of Oman in Renewable Energy Field,” said Prof. Dr. Najah Al Mhanna, Head of the Engineering Department at GUtech.

In addition, the PV101 course, SGS will provide lab/field-based courses and advanced theory courses on grid-tied photovoltaic systems. Just recently they broke ground and started construction on a nine kW outdoors training facility at GUtech that is being sponsored by BP Oman.

 

GUtech team succeeds in the Shell Eco-marathon Asia

HALBAN The GUtech team ‘Megalodon’ has successfully completed the Shell Eco-marathon Asia  in Singapore last Sunday. With a final result of 118.7km for one litre the GUtech team achieved the 3rd place in the diesel category, behind universities from Japan and the Philippines. The team also ranked 17th out of 30 in the Internal Combustion Engine (prototype ICE). Their challenge was to drive as long as possible while using only 1 litre of diesel fuel. “Overall, we achieved all that we had aimed for, which were to pass inspection and get a few runs on track. Our final attempt recorded 118.7km per litre was okay for us,” said Neeraj Krishnan, Mechanical Engineering student and the team leader.

The GUtech team was the only participating team from Oman after the team from Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) had pulled out their participation. Initially, the Megalodon team passed all technical inspections. The weight of the vehicle was 75kg without the driver Iman Al Maawali. The female GUtech Process Engineering student drove the GUtech eco-friendly car.

“The student team lead by Neeraj have done a great job and largely improved the efficiency of the vehicle compared to previous years,” said Prof. Dr. Emmanouil Bouzakis, Assistant Professor at the Department of Mechanical Engineering at GUtech. The material for the body of the car used was different than last year but with the same diesel engine.

The Megalodon team was sponsored by Shell Oman and GUtech.

GUtech’s Megalodon Team members:

Neeraj Krishnan (team manager)

Iman Al Maawali (driver)

Al Jaziya Al Nazwani (reserve driver)

Ahmed Al Amri (team member)

Ahmed Al Dhuhli (team member)

Ashwaq Al Harthi (team member)

Prof. Dr. Emmanouil Bouzakis, supervisor of the team

Caption: GUtech team Megalodon after the competition in Singapore

(c) Text: GUtech/ Dr. Manuela Gutberlet, Photo: GUtech/ Engineering Department

The GUtech team has dispatched their eco-friendly car to Singapore

HALBAN Six GUtech Engineering students of the team ‘Megalodon’ are currently preparing for the Asia Shell Eco-marathon to take place next week in Singapore. The GUtech students hope that their ideas and inventions can contribute to building lighter and eco-friendlier cars in future. Their newly developed car was shipped to Singapore a few days ago. Prior to the departure, the team members and their advising Engineering professor had time to speak about their month-long preparations and the special driving strategy that they will apply. The whole team started the project in November. For the second time an Omani female GUtech Process Engineering student, Iman Al Maawali, will drive the eco-friendly car. As in previous years the GUtech team will compete in the category prototype diesel, against more than 100 other student teams. Their challenge will be to drive as long as possible while using only 1 l of diesel.

“It is a great experience for us. I learnt more about building a car and how to improve its efficiency,” said 3rd year Process Engineering student Al Jaziya Al Nazwani, who worked long hours along with her team colleagues. She added: “I would like to work with Shell in future. The Eco-marathon is a good opportunity for us to learn more about Mechanical Engineering.” She was involved in manufacturing the chassis, the body of the car and the steering system. The material of the body and chassis is aluminium and carbon fibre. The GUtech team including three female students will participate for the fourth time in the Asian competition that was held in Singapore and Manila in previous years. Compared to the past years many features were improved. Dr. Emmanouil Bouzakis of the Engineering Department supervised and advised the team during their preparation for the Eco-Marathon. The GUtech Eco-marathon team is sponsored by Shell Oman and GUtech.

GUtech’s Megalodon Team members:

Neeraj Krishnan (team manager)

Iman Al Maawali (driver)

Al Jaziya Al Nazwani (reserve driver)

Ahmed Al Amri (team member)

Ahmed Al Dhuhli (team member)

Ashwaq Al Harthi (team member)

Ends

 

(c) GUtech/Dr. Manuela Gutberlet

GUtech signs MoU with Neu-Ulm University of Applied Sciences

HALBAN To enhance scientific and academic cooperation as well as cultural exchange, the German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Neu-Ulm University of Applied Sciences (HNU) in Germany on Tuesday. The MoU was signed by Prof. Dr. Uta M. Feser, President of HNU and Prof. Dr. Ing. Michael Modigell, Rector of GUtech.

The research activities and academic cooperation between both universities will focus on the field of International Business and Service Management (IBSM) and Logistics (LOG). The joint activities will include the exchange of faculty members, the exchange of students including internship opportunities as well as joint research and publications and the exchange of academic information and materials. “From the summer semester onwards, we are looking forward to sending up to three students per semester to HNU. In a first step, a group of our Logistics and IBSM students will be selected to study and conduct their internships at HNU. Last year one student from HNU studied for one semester at our Logistics Department,” said Prof. Dr. Heba Aziz, Head of the Department of Logistics, International Business and Service Management at GUtech.

“We at HNU educate managers and specialists who have an international experience and who are result-oriented,” said Prof. Dr. Uta Feser, President of HNU adding that cross-cultural communication and team work are important. “We train our students to work in teams, while fostering the application of theory in practise.” Around 4,000 students are currently studying at HNU. The university has 70 professors and 40 research assistants. The university has three academic faculties: Business and Economics, Information Management, Health Management and a Centre for Professional and Postgraduate Studies. The University of Applied Sciences is located in the South Bavarian city of Neu-Ulm, which is an important hub for logistics, engineering, pharmaceuticals and healthcare. The university has around 70 partner universities around the world, all students of HNU have to conduct internships for one semester.

The signing of the MoU was part of a visit of a delegation of professors and 24 students from HNU to GUtech, headed by Prof. Dr. Sibylle Brunner, Professor for Economics. The HNU delegation is conducting a cultural excursion to the Sultanate of Oman organized by students from different departments and held annually to different places around the world. End of last year HNU hosted the Omani exhibition “Tolerance, Understanding and Coexistence” on campus for one month.

During a campus tour at GUtech, the German students were impressed of the facilities and the architecture of the GUtech campus. “I am visiting Oman for the first time. Before my travel, I have studied the Middle East. Oman is a very special, peaceful country,” said Oliver Stadlhofer, who is in the 2nd year of the MA programme in Advanced Management at HNU.

Caption: The MoU was signed by Prof. Dr. Uta M. Feser, President of HNU and Prof. Dr. Ing. Michael Modigell, Rector of GUtech.

(c) GUtech/ Dr. Manuela Gutberlet

Learning from European Building Traditions – Students experience Innovations in Austria and Germany

HALBAN The Department of Urban Planning and Architectural Design (UPAD) of GUtech has recently conducted a two week excursion to Austria and Germany. The excursion was partially sponsored by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). “The main goal of the excursion was to inspire the students about previous building traditions, created by our ancestors and to create awareness about how those traditions are kept alive through innovation abroad and here in Oman. Our main question was how very isolated regions like Vorarlberg in Austria, with limited means developed a contemporary, highly admired architecture. Building traditions are not fixed, they are constantly changing. It is a spirit and innovated continuously,” said Wayne Switzer, Lecturer at the UPAD department, who was organizing and heading the excursion. These regions have steadily innovated the materials they had, for example wood. “Every year the builders went to Italy as hired carpenters, and then returned with new techniques which they adapted for their villages. Similarly, nowadays many architecture students go abroad for training and internships,” said Wayne.

During their excursion, students also saw parallels in materials which retain their cultural and practical value- such as the so-called shingle houses in Austria, e.g. in Vorarlberg old shingles made of wood are used as a primary material. “The students were fascinated that this traditional technique is still being applied in sophisticated buildings of today. They are not constrained by the past,” said Wayne. On a visit to the Kunsthaus Bregenz,  prominent art museum in the Austrian city of Bregenz, students witnessed a luminous façade of glass panels – arranged in a similar “shingle” technique as traditional buildings in the surrounding region. The idea is to promote this innovative spirit here in Oman and to create new ideas for integrating the traditional building materials and techniques into today’s architecture. During the second week of the excursion the group attended an architecture and urban planning workshop at the Department of Architecture at RWTH Aachen University.  In collaboration with RWTH students, GUtech students analysed areas of the city of Aachen and made proposals for how these might be sensibly developed.

As a result of that excursion the UPAD department started a series of discussions and lectures focussing on tradition and innovation. “The main themes were building culture, building construction, building with regards to the harsh weather condition in Oman,” said Wayne Switzer. For example the use of Arabic mushrabiya patterns (geometric patterns used in houses) representing Arab design and identity was discussed. “In my view, we have to recognize their practical usages rather than viewing them only as decoration. Ultimately, mushrabiyas provide privacy, shade and ventilation so we should consider appropriate materials and placement so they can be more effective in our contemporary buildings. During the discussions forums the group also spoke about topics such as teaching architecture at university in Oman. “The way we are educating architects here in Oman and at GUtech, from developing a concept to realising a construction, is much more comprehensive than what is expected of them within the current building industry,” explained Wayne Switzer.  “Through this dialogue we concluded that the role of architects in Oman must be expanded for their skills to be best put to use.”

International Symposium on Flash Floods – Recommendations and Future Research Agenda addressed

HALBAN The organizers of the 3rd International Symposium on Flash Floods in Wadi Systems held at the German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) mid-December have released a list of recommendations regarding the implementation of the expert’s recommendations for the mitigation of flooding and disastrous damages in arid countries.

“The participant scientists concluded that until today, there is no way to avoid flooding, which may cause disastrous damages,”  said Prof. Ekkehard Holzbecher, Symposium Chair.  “Even though, counter measures can be improved to reduce the risk of flooding and to mitigate negative effects by proper flood management, and future researches will focus on that direction,” he added. “Improved floodwater harvesting technologies will enhance groundwater quantity and quality in arid countries,” Holzbecher emphasized.

Some arid countries like Morocco have developed a flood mitigation strategy including a ground water recharge. However, the wadi environment is always affected. Thus, there is a need to mitigate negative impacts of these structures and to study how to optimize the flood storage works. It is paramount to collaborate with different research institutes to develop new indices to quantify the changes of sediment and water budget and simultaneously the changes of vegetation, aquatic life and water quality. Moreover, social impacts must be evaluated, e.g. concerning urbanization, the loss of agriculture and the decreasing importance of Aflaj systems (traditional irrigation systems) in Oman.

“The fourth International Symposium on Flash Floods in Wadi Systems will take place, at the University Hassan II in Casablanca (Morocco) between 20 – 22 November this year,” said Dr Ahmed Hadidi from GUtech and member of ISFF organizing committee. “The 4th ISFF will focus on urban flood risk management – mitigation and adaptation measures in the MENA region,” he added.

In conclusion, the team of international experts, mainly from Oman, Germany, Japan, Morocco and Egypt suggest to carry out a more proactive approach in disaster risk reduction and the management of flash floods. This can be done through implementing a trans-disciplinary research team and by establishing an early warning system in Oman. Furthermore, it has been suggested to introduce a joint research programme including the water administration (Ministry of Water Resources, Water Board etc.) and academics such as hydrologists, modeller, hydraulic engineers, urban planners, as well as social scientists.

Text: GUtech/ Dr. Manuela Gutberlet and Dr. Ahmed Hadidi; Photo: GUtech/Media Center

Prof. Hiroshi Amano, Nobel Prize Winner in Physics speaks at GUtech

HALBAN Prof. Dr. Hiroshi Amano, the Nobel Prize Winner in Physics (2014), gave a public lecture entitled “Brighter World and Sustainable Life with Blue LED and Transformative Electronics” at the German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) on Monday evening. He was accompanied by the former Japanese Ambassador to the Sultanate of Oman, H.E. Seigi Marimoto. Prof. Hiroshi Amano is currently on a visit to the Sultanate of Oman. Prof. Dr. Hiroshi Amano was awarded jointly for the Nobel Prize in Physics with Prof. Dr. Isamu Akasaki and Prof. Dr. Shuji Nakamura. The three scientists received the Nobel Prize for their invention of efficient blue light-emitting diodes which has enabled bright and energy-saving white light sources, LED lights.

Prof. Dr. Hiroshi Amano is a Doctor of Engineering. He is the Director of the Center for Integrated Research of Future Electronics (URFE) at the Institute of Materials and Systems for Sustainability (IMaSS) and he is the Director of the Akasaki Research Center at Nagoya University (Japan). Initially Prof. Amano studied electrical engineering at the university in Nagoya, which awarded him his doctorate in 1989. In 2002 he became a professor at Meijo University in Nagoya and later moved to Nagoya University. “We are honoured to welcome Prof. Hiroshi Amano at our university,” said Prof. Dr. Michael Modigell, Rector of GUtech while stressing that there are challenges researchers have to cope with. “Curiosity, spontaneity, thinking out of the box and the willingness to take risks and fail are important features for a successful research career.”

Prof. Hiroshi Amano started his research on LED lights already in 1981, when he joined a group of researchers as an under-graduate student. “At that time the energy consumption was high and he wanted to find a solution. We even developed our own research equipment,” recalled Prof. Amano.

Lighting plays an important role in our everyday lives. The development of light-emitting diodes (LEDs) has made more efficient light sources possible. Creating white light that can be used for lighting requires a combination of red, green, and blue light. Blue LEDs proved to be much more difficult to create than red and green diodes. During the 1980s and 1990s Prof. Isamu Akasaki, Prof. Hiroshi Amano, and Prof. Shuji Nakamura successfully used the difficult-to-handle semiconductor gallium nitride to create efficient blue LEDs. According to Prof. Amano by using LED light, Japan reduced its annual electricity consumption by 7 %. Consequently, energy efficient LED lights contribute to the reduction of CO2 emissions and global warming. Last year Prof. Amano visited Mongolia. “I was happy to discover that LED lamps are used in the traditional Mongolian Ger tents,” he recalled.

A few years ago, Prof. Amano initiated a network of scientists who works on the “Internet of Energy”, the so-called “Future Wireless Power Transmission Network”, an open innovation platform that develops sustainable, smart solutions regarding future energy challenges of our societies. He spoke about the drone super highway, air-taxis “In future we will be able to connect at any time and any place” he said. Finally he stressed, that students who are interested should contribute with their knowledge and ideas “If you wish to contribute to develop ideas, you should play a leading role” he said.

On the side lines of the talk Prof. Hiroshi Amano spoke about the Nobel Prize Award ceremony and his big surprise when the award was announced in October 2014, while he was travelling between Japan and France to attend a conference there. “I could not understand what had happened,” he said.

 

Mohenjo-Daro, Pakistan – one of the largest, Bronze Age cities of the ancient world

New research to be carried out by Prof. Jansen and his team from February onwards

HALBAN For more than 30 years, Prof. Dr. Michael Jansen, the founding Rector of the German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) and currently the Director of the Indian Ocean Research Center at GUtech and UNESCO Senior Expert, has been working along with an international team of researchers from Germany, Italy and the US on excavating the sites of Mohenjo-Daro (“The Hill of the Dead”). “Our recent discoveries have proved that the site is at least two times larger than to be seen today. The major part of it has been covered in the past 4500 years by the siltation process of the Indus. New research, which will be carried out from February 2018 onwards by myself and my team will open a new chapter of research for this civilization and will prove further evidence for the real size of the city,” said Prof. Jansen. Located in the Indus Valley, in the province of Sindh, Pakistan, it is one of the largest Bronze Age cities of the third Millennium BC. “The Indus Civilization was the most widespread of all known early civilizations, and of the more than 2000 identified settlements so far, Mohenjo-Daro is the largest one,” said Prof. Michael Jansen during a presentation about his research and work on the archaeological site that was followed by a German Television documentary (produced by arte/ZDF). According to Prof. Jansen, there have been many trade relations between the Indus valley and the Gulf countries including the Sultanate of Oman.

In 1979 Mohenjo-Daro was placed as one of the first archaeological sites internationally on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The city was discovered by archaeologists around 100 years ago. Only 10% of the city has been excavated so far. “It appears that the city was located within a large settlement network. It was an administrative, managerial center and without major production zones. After a slow degrading, the city was finally abandoned around 1,500 BC,” said Prof. Jansen while adding: “We are fascinated by the simplicity of the city and its civilisation.”. The city of Mohenjo-Daro was solely built of pre-fabricated mud and burnt bricks of today´s standards. All water needed was supplied by more than 600 wells within the urban context, the sewage system comprised of a systematic drainage system, contrary to the other contemporary ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia and Egypt, where the fresh water needed was taken from the nearby rivers.

The research of Prof Jansen and his team from RWTH Aachen University (GUtech’s German partner-university), has shown that Mohenjo-Daro probably was once the first pre-planned city of the world, built on artificial platforms to protect the inhabitants against the annual summer inundation of the river Indus.

According to Prof. Jansen, since the damming of the river Indus in the 19th century and since the beginning of artificial irrigation in 1930 of an area covering almost the whole Lower Sindh, Mohenjo-Daro is under enormous threat of destruction by salts rising through the irrigation process to the surface. From 1979 to 1997 UNESCO launched its largest campaign so far for the safeguarding of Mohenjo-Daro. Within this large program Prof. Jansen and his team were engaged to develop a conservation method to save the more than 40.000 meters of excavated city brick walls. Finally it was decided to cover the original brick fabric with a thin layer of mud. Consequently, the salts can crystallize without further destroying the original walls and the original bricks. Regular maintenance and monitoring of the ruins and the site are a primary need.

An ambitious preservation scheme has been underway for many years. The tribe of Mohanas, river nomads, living till today on boats on the Indus river close by Mohenjo-Daro and on the near-by Manchhar Lake may be a remaining part of the ancient population. Until now little is known about the script of the Indus civilization. Prof. Jansen is planning to establish an international society for the promotion of Mohenjo-Daro, the probably largest city of mankind in the third millennium BC. The Research Center Indian Ocean at GUtech will be an essential partner to reach this goal.

© Text: GUtech/Manuela Gutberlet; Photo: OES / Michaela Liehner-Jansen.

 

 

 

GUtech professor receives the National Research Award for his research in Mechatronics

HALBAN Prof Dr. Aydin Azizi, Assistant Professor at the Department of Mechanical Engineering at GUtech has received the National Research Award from The Research Council (TRC) for his published research in the field of Mechatronics. The research was awarded as the best research work in the energy and industry sector for the year 2017.

In his research conducted in the past three years and recently published in an international, Q1 ranked, peer-reviewed engineering journal, Prof. Aydin has introduced a novel Hybrid Artificial Intelligence Algorithm to analyse and calculate the optimized number and the position of RFID antennas needed to be deployed in the network in order to track and identify materials, products, and even live subjects. “Artificial intelligence includes the design of intelligent agents to solve real-world every-day problems, and nowadays it is in high demand of the most companies. My research can be applied in the different sectors such as telecommunication, transportation, energy, industry and even health care, e.g. through network of tracking identification cards, pattern recognition of rescue robots and etc.,” he said. His results show the proposed new algorithm, a so-called “Hybrid Artificial Intelligence Algorithm”, which is a high performance and accurate technique to solve  complex problems. According to Prof. Aydin applications of Artificial Intelligence are currently researched in Oman whereas in Europe they are already applied in many fields, e.g. in the automation industry.

Prof. Aydin Azizi has been working at GUtech in the past three years. He is the research focal point of the Research Council of Oman (TRC). His main research interest is Mechatronics, focusing on developing and investigating different Artificial Intelligent Techniques to model, control and optimize complex nonlinear systems for industrial applications, e.g. in telecommunications.

Prof. Aydin holds a BSc in Mechanical Engineering of Urmia University in Iran, an MSc in Mechatronics of Sharif University of Technology in Iran and a PhD in Mechanical Engineering of the Eastern Mediterranean University in Cyprus.