Strategic Partnership with Webware

A strategic partnership between the German University of Technology in Oman and World Web IT Solutions to enhance applied research and develop innovative technological solutions

The German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) has established a strategic partnership with World Web IT Solutions (Webware) to collaborate across a range of areas and in particular in applied research, to develop innovative solutions, and to exchange expertise in technical and academic areas.

Dr Hussain bin Sulaiman Al Salmi, GUtech’s Acting Rector and Dr Ahmed bin Sleim Al Junaibi, Webware Chairman, signed the agreement recently at the company’s headquarter in Al Ghalbi Tower in Muscat.

This partnership goes along GUtech strategic initiatives aimed to create opportunities for cooperation with the private sector and to launch applied research projects that serve Oman’s economy. It is also a driving engine for applied research enabling knowledge transfer and exchange that address real-world business challenges and requirements of the private sector. The strategic partnership with Webware also includes offering training opportunities to GUtech students in various disciplines and making it easy to incubate students’ graduation projects.

At the signing, Dr Hussain bin Sulaiman Al Salmi, Acting Rector of GUtech, said: “we are delighted to enter into a strategic partnership with Webware, and we look forward to a fruitful collaboration offering our students and faculty plenty of opportunities to engage in real-world applied research projects emanating from the needs of the private sector and offering technology-driven solutions.”

Commenting on the partnership, Mr Ibrahim bin Sleim Al Junaibi, CEO of Webware, said: “the cooperation with the German University of Technology in Oman, a pioneer educational institution in Oman, opens up prospects for growth and progress for us, and enhances our business efficiency.” “With the expertise of its faculty members hailing from different disciplines, together with GUtech, we are well equipped to co-develop new innovations that serve the market and raise the efficiency of the business sector” He added.

Al Salmi indicated that strategic partnerships with the private sector including Webware enables GUtech to align the curriculum with the markets expectations and needs and provide an exceptional educational experience to our students.

World Web IT Solutions (Webware), a subsidiary of Al Ghalbi International Group, is one of the leading companies in the field of technology. In the last six years, Webware has evolved to a well trusted and recognised company offering valuable and efficient technological solutions for an effecient business environment.

GUtech welcomes new students via virtual orientation sessions

GUtech campus is typically abuzz this time of the year, but new students are experiencing the university life differently this time. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the department of Student Affairs has re-created the orientation experience virtually via MS TEAMS for the academic year 2020/202 to provide proper induction and ensure a smooth academic journey at the college. The virtual orientation programme had included virtual components showcasing the different services the University provides, allowing over 370 online participants to get acquainted with the services available on campus.

After welcoming the participants to the virtual orientation sessions, GUtech Acting Rector, Dr Hussain Al Salmi, provided a recap on the precautionary measures the University is observing for the health and safety of students and staff and highlighted the availability of all necessary information on the University website, social media platforms, besides the introductory email sent earlier to all students explaining the plans devised by the University to navigate the current situation.

Head of Student Affairs department, Nawal Jawad led the virtual orientation by providing an overview of the services offered by the different departments. “We want to make sure that every student knows we are here for them.” Jawad assured participants. Students got then the opportunity to an extended questions and answers session addressing all their concerns.

Addressing the concerns of new students over the teaching formats, Al Salmi explained: “in September we are required to conduct teaching online only. Starting from October, three teaching formats will be applied from face-to-face, and virtual teaching to online classes which don’t require real-time session meetings.” “Exams will be conducted both online and on campus.” He added.

The virtual orientation allowed participants who are enrolled to embark on the foundation programme to learn about its structure and its different levels and to pose a range of questions, from changing the programme of study, academic advising, student advisory council, and student clubs, to accommodation and eateries options on campus.

 

OES and Eduten Collaborate to Bring AI-Supported Gamification Mathematics to Oman

Oman Educational Services signs exclusivity agreement with Eduten to bring Finland’s no 1 AI-supported mathematics digital learning platform to Oman

Oman Education Services (OES, LLC) has signed an exclusivity agreement with Eduten, a Finnish company with more than 15 years of proven expertise in gamification-based mathematics learning, to bring Eduten Playground into the Finland Oman School (FOS), the GUbridge Foundation Programme of the German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) and beyond.

The virtual signing ceremony took place yesterday, Wednesday 9 September, between Dr Hussain Al Salmi, the Chief Executive Officer of OES, and Henri Muurimaa, the Chief Executive Officer of Eduten joining from Turku, Finland; along with the virtual presence of Makke Leppänen, Eduten’s Head of Partnership joining from Helsinki, Ahmed Al Salmi, OES General Manager, and Terhi Merenski, FOS principal.

Eduten, a spin-off of the globally ranked top 1% University of Turku, is behind Eduten Playground for primary and secondary students. Eduten Playground is supported by artificial intelligence and offers a library of more than 200,000 high-quality pedagogical online mathematics practice tasks for students aged 6-15 years.

Commenting on the exclusivity agreement with Eduten, OES CEO, Al Salmi said: “Recognising the significant role of the digital education in boosting pupils’ learning and believing in the importance of equipping our students with the Fourth Industrial Revolution skills, our agreement with Eduten goes hand in hand with our vision to providing quality education to the people of Oman and to empowering our students, in FOS and GUtech, to learn mathematics through Eduten Playground, Finland’s no 1 motivational digital learning platform that encourages autonomous learning.” “Math performance in Oman has been a challenge and we believe that Eduten Playground, when deployed properly, can improve Omani students’ Math results.” He added.

The platform complements FOS approach of pedagogical differentiation and offers teachers opportunities for setting up highly individual learning pathways for students and generating detailed learning analytics for each student.
From his side, Eduten CEO, Henri Muurimaa, stated: “With this venture, Oman will be joining the growing list of countries benefiting from the extensive research and proven effectiveness in digital mathematics learning while simultaneously helping us to achieve our ultimate mission of offering students worldwide the opportunity to reach their academic potential.” “OES is a perfect partner for us and together with OES we are ready to expand in Oman for modernising the teaching methods and for transforming the learning journey for higher results among FOS students and many other schools in Oman.” He concluded.

Capitalising on the expertise of Eduten and leveraging FOS growing reputation, the agreement appoints OES as the exclusive distributor in Oman and paves the ground for undertaking research that will expand the digital platform to address other regional needs in Arabic and Arabic related subjects.

Oman Educational Services (OES) is a 100% Omani-owned limited liability company, established in 2006. In the past 14 years, OES has ventured into different projects with a core interest in education – The German University of Technology (GUtech) in 2007, History of Science Centre in 2017, and Finland Oman School in 2018 – allowing OES to be established as a leading educational ecosystem in Oman.

Eduten Ltd is a spin-off from University of Turku that provides Finland’s most popular digital learning platform Eduten Playground to educational institutions around the world. Eduten Playground has proved its worth as a scientifically validated mathematics platform since 2011 by more than 450,000 users in Finland 40+ other countries, including Hong Kong, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Australia, United States, United Arab Emirates, various countries in Europe, Asia and Latin America, and now Oman.

GUtech and PhazeRo bring in real-world artificial intelligence skills into the classroom and beyond

The German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) signed on Tuesday 8 September a cooperation agreement with PhazeRo at GUtech campus to offer artificial intelligence, AI, courses to equip GUtech students with much needed AI skills and to bridge the gap between AI theory and real-world AI applications through project-based learning with real industry challenges.

Dr Hussain Al Salmi, GUtech’s Acting Rector, and Mr Masood Al Rawahi, PhazeRo Executive Director, signed the agreement, in the presence of Dr Nabil Al Sahli, Dean of the Engineering and Computer Science faculty at GUtech.

PhazeRo is a specialist consultancy and future-oriented technology education group, building the region’s largest engineering team out of local software talent. PhazeRo handles digital consulting, software development, talent onboarding, and continuous improvement for corporate clients so they can get back to focusing on their core business.

Al Salmi announced that the signing of the agreement establishes a solid partnership ground with PhazeRo, as it will contribute to bring in real-world AI applications to the classroom. He added that GUtech spares no effort to provide students with the right practical skills they need to be ready for the job market. “collaborating with PhazeRo to infuse our curriculum with hands-on learning opportunities is an example,” he said, before adding that GUtech always seeks to bring in the industry into the learning process of students.

GUtech is finalising all requirements to launch the Cyber Security and Artificial Intelligence programmes, he stated. “It is extremely important to bring in the practical aspects of AI into our Computer Science curriculum and beyond.”

Through the expertise of PhazeRo, GUtech students will get to explore the real-life applications of AI in different sectors. Al Rawahi “We believe that high-performing tech talent is at the heart of a thriving innovation ecosystem. Our mission is to accelerate the development of the next generation of software engineers and data scientists to realise the ambitious goals laid out in Vision 2040. To achieve this, deep integration between industry and academia is necessary. We are excited to co-create a programme, with the GUtech, that infuses our industry experience with a rigorous academic curriculum that is very practical in nature.”

In the pilot stage, PhazeRo will deliver introductory AI courses to third year Computer Science students in September 2020. Al Sahli explained that “With the AI boom, it was necessary for GUtech to find an industrial partner who can support our vision in forming local AI experts.”

He continued: “PhazeRo is a young and very promising Omani company which we think can connect GUtech to the AI market and support us in improving our academic programmes by offering the opportunity to our students to practice AI concepts in real-world applications. We will start this partnership as soon as this month with a course that PhazeRo will offer to our third year CS students. This course will focus on machine learning and will give students the opportunity to plan and execute real machine learning projects to solve real-world problems.”

The collaboration with PhazeRo will also benefit students who will be joining the recently approved GUtech’s Bachelor of Artificial Intelligence programme. Upon launching the programme, PhazeRo will be engaged to deliver specialised courses.

The collaboration also aims at extending AI courses and trainings to passionate professionals seeking to upskill their technical knowledge in machine learning and AI applications.

The signing ceremony was held at GUtech campus in the presence of Mr Talal Al Nabulsi, responsible for training at GUtech’s training unit (TSSC), and Ms Reem Al Taei, the Business Development Executive at PhazeRo.

The Hospitality industry: Navigating through the COVID-19 pandemic

Crisis Management in the Hospitality Industry: Insights from the General Manager of Al Bustan Palace, A Ritz Carlton Hotel

The Hospitality industry: Navigating through the COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced many variables that are obscuring the prospect of recovery of the hospitality sector.

Dr. Heba Aziz, Professor at the Faculty of Business and Economics and director of MBA programmes invited the General Manager of Al Bustan Palace, a Ritz Carlton Hotel, Katrin Herz, to a virtual talk to students of the International Business and Service Management (IBSM) department recently to gain insights into crisis management in the hospitality industry amid the covid-19 pandemic.

“I am pleased that students enrolled in my course “Contemporary Issues in Tourism: Crisis Management” had got the opportunity to learn about what is happening in the hospitality from a hospitality practitioner with an extensive local and international experience.” Commented Dr. Heba Aziz.

Herz gave her thoughts on the impact of COVID-19 on Al Bustan Palace, a Ritz Carlton Hotel, in particular and the hospitality sector in general. A sector that has been one of the hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic. She started off by pointing out to the importance of having a crisis management team during this difficult time, inclusive of key personnel from finance, communication, marketing, human resources, and procurement. This team is tasked with addressing all sorts of aspects relating to communication, staffing  and contracts, hygiene and cleaning standards to new procurement initiatives.

Addressing a question from Fatma Al Madhani, Herz confided that a rise in operating expenses and direct costs is imminent as hotels will be required to acquire all sorts of protective equipment including, shields, masks, gloves, alcohol-based sanitisers and disinfectant installations, to maintain social distancing and ensure a touch free guests’ interaction across the hotel facilities supported by solutions such as QR scanned menus in restaurants and mobile applications for check-in.

Speaking via Microsoft Zoom to students, Herz shared how Al Bustan Palace, a Ritz Carlton Hotel, is gearing towards a staycation strategy to circumvent the pandemic’s painful impact on the hotel’s revenues, and developing package deals to attract local guests and families.

Students got also to learn that most hotels rely on external subcontractors for operating their facilities. Negotiating these contracts are among the tasks any hotel manager would start with to minimise losses. Besides, revisiting personnel’s contracts and agreeing with employees on salary cut to avoid redundancies.

The student Reem Al Khalili raised the question about gaining customers back after the pandemic. To this, Herz emphasised the importance of transparent and clear communication about social distancing practices that the hotel is planning to put in place. Besides, the hotel has been very flexible with its refund policy, allowing customers to claim their deposits or reschedule their events at no additional cost.

The virtual talk offered  the opportunity to students to learn how the hospitality industry is reorganising and redistributing resources to develop and cope with new hygiene protocols for a better customer experience. From identifying all touch points in a hotel, to dedicating personnel who will be focusing on the hygiene aspects, are among the changes a hotel will have to prepare for.

 

Caption: Katrin Herz, General Manager of Al Bustan Palace, a Ritz Carlton Hotel.

(c) GUtech/ Text: Fatima El Madkouri; Photo provided by Dr Heba Aziz

 

 

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 Transition to Online Teaching during the COVID-19 Pandemic and its Challenges

The German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) has been teaching all courses online since mid-March. GUtech academics speak about their teaching experiences and challenges faced. “GUtech’s strategy was to support several online teaching tools to allow professors to select the tool most suitable for their classes. This has increased buy-in from professors who are more than happy to share their best practices with colleagues. Students, for the most part, have been very responsive. However, there is a small percentage of students who have limited internet access. Fortunately, joint efforts between MoHE, charities, telecommunication operators and GUtech have resulted in workable solutions for most students. It means that only a very small number of students have to postpone their studies,” said Prof. Dr. Armin Eberlein, Vice-Rector for Academic Affairs at GUtech.

Prof. Dr. Wilfried Bauer, Head of the Department of Applied Geosciences (AGEO) at GUtech said that their department received numerous encouraging messages from students, admitting that under the given circumstances of the pandemic they were happy to learn in a safe environment and from home. “During the last week however, the messages we received from students changed and the students are now more concerned about the situation. Most concerned are our last year students. They don’t know when they will be allowed back to the laboratories to complete their thesis work. I think this is understandable after five weeks of isolation,” said Prof. Wilfried. Another pressing challenge is the delivery of practical courses where the outcome should be a transfer of hands-on skills and internships. “Currently all our laboratories are closed, so that we have to postpone such courses to the next semester,” said Prof. Wilfried while the questions regarding conducting internships remain open. “It is not only that students cannot foresee the end of the restrictions, they also don’t know when they can find an internship or even later a job. They begin to understand that the economic situation caused by COVID-19 can threaten their future and those of their parents, relatives and friends,” he said.

Prof. Dr. Osman Barghouth, Head of the Department of Logistics and Tourism at GUtech said that in their Department students’ motivation and their participation is very high. “I think this high participation depends to a large extent on the course instructors. We as professors must consider the learning process as a two-way communication process. We have to think creatively in order to find ways to involve, motivate and engage our students instead of just giving tasks without feedback,” said Prof. Osman.

In the past weeks Prof. Wilfried Bauer and his team have gained a lot of experiences in adjusting to the current pandemic and in online teaching. However, recorded or live-streamed lectures are different than face-to-face classes. “Our lecturers and professors often lack more elaborated presentation skills of a film producer like David Attenborough. We also often lack the means to adapt all our teaching materials to more elaborated distant learning methods which require much more skills and equipment than recording our voices and preparing white board drawings on a tablet. Without direct feedback from students, we have no possibility to modify the content of the lectures,” said Prof. Wilfried Bauer.

Prof. Osman Barghouth has introduced Microsoft Team Viewer to communicate with all students. To enable the direct contact via video and calls, the Department has added all students in the course to Microsoft Team Viewer. “In our department we design homework assignments that measure the students’ understanding of the online course material and their ability to apply what they learned in practice,” he said. In conclusion, Prof. Dr. Armin Eberlein said that the current experience will bring a long-term change to higher education. “Even when (hopefully soon) the Covid-19 pandemic is over, I anticipate that blended learning will become much more common. Further investments are needed to get from Internet teaching in an emergency situation to proper online education; but Covid-19 has put us on this path.”

Caption: Prof. Dr. Wilfried Bauer, Head of the Applied Geosciences Department and Dean of the Faculty of Sciences

(c) GUtech: Text by Dr. Manuela Gutberlet, Photo: provided by Prof. Wilfried Bauer

 

 

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

Innovative Business Projects presented

HALBAN An innovative logistics application, an online platform for freelance services, a ‘clinic on the go’, a medical service website ‘I care’ or an online destination management company for tourists visiting Oman, students of the Department of Logistics, Tourism and Service Management have displayed a large number of innovative projects of the ‘Entrepreneurship and Innovation Course’ during an exhibition entitled “Fikra – The Secret of Getting Ahead is Getting Started”, held in the university’s auditorium on Sunday. ‘Fikra’ is the Arabic word for ‘idea’. “I am extremely happy to see the various results of the course and I hope the students will continue working on their ideas and realize small businesses. The Omani Academy for Small and Medium Enterprises has also supported the course with lectures on idea creation and idea evaluation. Many student companies are already online. These ideas will be further discussed and we will continue to promote their final realization,” said Prof. Osman Barghouth, Head of the Department who supervised all the projects. Students were asked to create innovative ideas in three categories: websites, manufacturing and food & beverage businesses.

“It is great to see the enthusiasm of our students who developed their own ideas, their own concepts and the realization of the ideas. It is not only learning from the textbook but realizing a business project from beginning to end,” said Prof. Dr. Armin Eberlein, Deputy-Rector for Academic Affairs at GUtech.

Abeer Al Kharousi, Shurooq Al Busaidi and Shamsa Al Balushi created an online application for  renting out warehouse spaces. “We offer three services within one application. Our goal is to help warehouse owners advertise their renting services, to locate the best warehouse for traders, to satisfy their requirements, to work as third party to link buyers and sellers and to reduce the gap between the customers and the service providers,” said Nama Al Balushi while explaining their mobile application ‘Rent Me’.

Another business idea is “E-lancers”, an online platform that offers various small services and support for the local community in Oman like babysitting, tutoring, house cleaning and technical fixing and repairing. Another idea was presented by Ohood Al Hammadi, Mohammed Al Fazari, Fatema Al Riyami, Huda Al Jahwari and Hiba Al Waili. They presented their business idea on supporting and branding small and medium enterprises in Oman through online marketing, designing and consultation tools. The ‘Entrepreneurship and Innovation Course’ aimed to introduce students to various aspects of entrepreneurship and starting their own businesses with a focus on the support of the Omani ecosystem for start-up companies. The course included finding new business ideas, linking creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship, developing a business model, writing a business plan and presenting the final project to fellow students and professors.

(c) GUtech / Text & Photo: 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