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

 

 

GUtech’s Board of Governors met to discuss latest developments

To discuss the development of the University, the Board of Governors (BoG) of the German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) met recently. The BoG holds meetings at least three times per year at RWTH Aachen University, GUtech’s German partner-university or at GUtech in Muscat.

The meeting was headed by the Rector of RWTH Aachen University, Prof. Dr. Ulrich Rüdiger. Members of the BoG consist of representatives of the Board of Governors of GUtech, representative of the Ministry of Higher Education in Oman, the German Ambassador in Oman, and the members of Rectorate of GUtech.

Rectorate members gave presentations on the progress of the University in the past six months. They also discussed the Internalisation Strategy of the university and they reviewed existing Bachelor of Science programmes, in particular the BSc in Computer Science and BSc International Business and Service Management. The BoG also discussed the introduction of new MSc and BSc programmes and reviewed the financial statements of the University.

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

Start of the Double Degree MBA at GUtech

WU-GUtech MBA starts with the first batch of executives.

November 2019 marks the start of the double degree MBA by the German University of technology (GUtech) and the Vienna University for Economics and Business (WU).

Representing a diverse range of academic and professional experience, 19 executives have registered for the GUtech-WU MBA; The executives hail from different backgrounds and different business sectors including healthcare, the oil sector, the banking sector, and many more.

The GUtech-WU MBA programme is designed to enable executives to follow a unique professional development opportunity in Oman without the need to travel or take long periods off work said Dr. Heba Aziz the academic director of the MBA.

Modules are delivered once a month, over four days, from Thursday to Sunday. This format allows for less travel time to and from campus and provides a way for participants to bring newly gained knowledge immediately to the work environment. GUtech is currently accepting applications for the second intake.

 

 

 

New Research Explores the Infiltration of Flash Flood Water

Due to its arid and semi-arid climate, the Sultanate of Oman is suffering from scarcity of water. Therefore, it is important to capture water from floods before it discharges into the sea or evaporates. “Unfortunately, every year Oman loses 120 million m3 of freshwater as runoff to the sea, according to the Ministry of Regional Municipalities and Water Resources. In order to harvest flood water, around 50 recharge dams were built in Oman,” said Prof. Dr. Ekkehard Holzbecher, Professor for Hydrogeology at German University of Technology (GUtech), who has been leading a research project on flood management for several years. In order to measure the rate of infiltrating water, a field experiment is currently operated at the campus of GUtech. The experiment consists of a 100-meter long channel with one-meter width and depth. “An artificial flood is created by injecting water from a tanker. Several hi-tech sensors are installed in the soil and in the flowing water in order to estimate the amount of water, which infiltrates into the ground and which partially evaporates before reaching the deeper-lying groundwater reservoir (aquifer). Moreover, the flow rate is measured in the inlet and the outlet of the channel,” said Prof. Holzbecher. The experiment is funded by a GUtech seed grant and supervised by Prof. Dr Ekkehard Holzbecher and Dr. Ahmed Hadidi of the Applied Geoscience Department (AGEO) at GUtech. As part of their team project course, fourth-year students of the AGEO Department are involved as well. 

 

GUtech Students Participated in ‘Design Thinking Course’ in Germany

For the first time, a group of twelve Logistics students from the German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) has participated in a ‘Design Thinking Course’ held together with one of GUtech’s partner-universities in Germany, Neu-Ulm University of Applied Sciences. “The course prepared our Logistics students to work in interdisciplinary, multi-cultural teams and to understand the logistics processes within a company. The students worked with German students in the offices of the company Fischer Verkaufsfahrzeuge (Sales Vehicles) in Neu-Ulm, located in the South of Germany. Fischer Sales Vehicles Company is a family-owned company, specialized in manufacturing different types of food vehicles and according to individual customer requirements. The vehicles are used as food trucks or to sell cooled products like meat, fish or vegetables at local markets in Europe. The students analysed manufacturing, storage and customer service processes at Fischer and developed prototypes that contributed to improve the overall quality management. We are very grateful for this fruitful cooperation with Neu-Ulm University of Applied Sciences and with Fischer Sales Vehicles,” said Prof. Dr. Tobias Buer, Head of Logistics at GUtech while adding that the students worked on prototype vehicles that were presented to employees, the upper management and external experts from the Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

“Since it was my first visit to Germany, it was a great opportunity. Along with our German fellow students, we implemented the ‘design thinking phases’, starting from understanding the problem to the integration of a suitable solution. We decided to launch an application that manages different versions of engineering drawings and which keeps them updated immediately and other features as well,” said Sara Al Rashdia, GUtech Logistics student in the 3rd year. During the Logistics course, the students learnt a lot about the culture, the people and higher education in Germany. “We faced some challenges while communicating with the company’s employees because the large majority spoke German only. But we managed to succeed with the help of some German colleagues. After having worked within a group, we now understand how important group work is for the success of a project,” said Sara Al Rashdia.

(c) GUtech text and photo: Dr. Manuela Gutberlet and Prof Dr. Tobias Buer

 

GUtech Students Visited RWTH Aachen University and Other Research Institutes in Germany

To learn more about Computer Sciences in Europe, a group of 14 students conducted a two-week excursion to different universities and research institutions in Germany. “This annual excursion is very important for our students as it helps them to get familiar with the German educational system and to strengthen our links with RWTH Aachen University. Students have the chance to visit state-of-the-art laboratories and may decide later on to conduct their master thesis in one of these labs,” said Prof. Dr. Nabil Sahli, Head of the Department of Computer Science at GUtech. The excursion was sponsored by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).

The students and their two professors visited GUtech’s partner-university RWTH Aachen University where they had an introduction to the 5G Application Lab and the Virtual Reality Lab. The group also visited the Fab Lab at Siegen University, as well as different Computer Science laboratories at the Institute of Technology in Karlsruhe, the Fraunhofer Institute in Bonn and the University of Hasselt in Belgium. “For the students, it is important to learn about the ongoing research projects as well as study-programmes at different high-ranking universities and institutes in Germany. Some students may conduct their final BSc projects at one of the universities visited or pursue their Master studies in Germany. The students acquired more knowledge about studying in Germany and the different Master programmes on offer,” said Dr. Sharifa Al Khanjari, Senior Lecturer at the Department of Computer Science at GUtech.

Caption: GUtech students and their lecturers at RWTH Aachen University.

(c) GUtech/ Text and Photo: Dr. Manuela Gutberlet & Dr. Sharifa Al Khanjari

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

 

 

Shams Global Solutions and BP Oman Inaugurate Shams Facility for Solar Training at the German University of Technology in Oman

Shams Global Solutions (SGS) in association with BP Oman’s Social Investment Programme, inaugurated a state of the art solar training facility located on the campus of the German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech), yesterday. The event was held as part of Oman’s 49th National Day celebrations.  Qais Bin Saud Al Zakwani, Executive Director of the Authority for Electricity Regulation was the Guest of Honour for the inauguration and was accompanied by Eng. Yousuf Al Ojaili, BP Oman President. Many other senior officials from the public and private sector were also present on the occasion.

“We aim to harness innovation and research skills through delivery of practical and experiential initiatives,” said Shamsa Al Rawahi, BP Oman’s Social Investment Manager. “Oman’s solar sector has the potential for growth and it is necessary to enable people and equip them with the right skill set to complement it. SGS’s new facility is well integrated to do so,” she added.

Located on the campus of the German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech), the facility is the outcome of a unique cooperation between SGS, BP Oman, and GUtech. “We are very glad to see the facility running and being utilised for its purpose” said Prof. Dr. Ing. Michael Modigell, Rector of GUtech. The facility includes four different solar systems totaling 18 kWp (kilowattpeak) of solar power and four training zones, one of which is a dedicated interface protection zone. The facility has three different installation types (flat-roof, pitched-roof and ground-mounted systems), designed to the exact specification of the Authority for Electricity Regulation’s (AER) grid-connected solar regulations released in 2017. The facility is designed to simulate real-world building and installation sites. SGS’s trainings are provided in partnership with Solar Energy International (USA) who have been delivering firsthand training for over 25-years.

“The inauguration of this facility is an indication of our commitment to advance the growth of renewable energy in the Sultanate. We want to contribute to energy diversification and increase production from cleaner sources,” said Dr Michael Tsang, Co-Founder of SGS. “We are aiming to strengthen this ambition to keep the renewables sector growing in Oman and tap into other resources of energy,” he added.

SGS collaborated with Solar Energy International to launch a solar photovoltaic training programme that is certified and approved by Oman’s DCRP (Distribution Code Review Panel) last year. The course has enabled hundreds of the country’s next generation of solar professionals to be an integral part of Oman’s renewable energy sector.

Shams Global Solutions is a private company focused on creating and delivering educational and training services for sustainability in the Middle East. Based out of Muscat, Oman, their mission is to develop local capacity and strengthen the renewable energy as well as sustainability of the marketplace both locally and regionally. Working towards this goal, they provide technical training and services related to solar power, renewable energy, energy efficiency, and sustainability.