Humanist research at technical university: possible with UAS Technikum Wien

Dzalila Muharemagic at UAS Technikum Wien

When you think of UAS Technikum Wien, one always thinks of technical sciences, robotics laboratories and modern technology. During a month of research at the Technikum's Department of Humanities, I came to learn that within this state-of-the-art education for engineers, there is an entire company of people working together to help UAS Technikum educate “the humanist engineers”.

During my entire university studies I have always been interested in English for Specific Purposes, the special branch of English language teaching that considers what students need the language for and what the best way is to fulfill these needs. Living in Bosnia and Herzegovina, a country which is once more in its 1000-year-old history trying to find its place in the world, I noticed that the main route to its development is an industrial link to the rest of the world. In line with good education in technical sciences, new generations of engineers have to be able to communicate with their international partners. However, this communication does not refer only to technical communication, but to 'soft' skills as well.  As a student of master studies at the University of Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina, I have endeavored to find the university which offers all of this and which is willing to share the experience with others.

I spent almost six months searching for such a place, and finally I found a university very close to my country, a technical university in Austria which organizes conferences dedicated to English for Specific Purposes. Unexpectedly, after my first e-mail, I had a positive response to my request to do research at UAS Technikum Wien and find out how a technical university can make use of the humanities to educate skilled engineers to be able to communicate effectively in their profession, but also be aware of social dimension of their profession. In just a few months, I was awarded a CEEPUS III scholarship granted by the Austrian Agency for International Cooperation in Education and Research (OeAD) and was welcomed at UAS for my research.

I spent 23 days at UAS Technikum Wien under the supervision of Ms Lisa Nazarenko, a senior lecturer and Didactics Advisor in the Department of Humanities, who was there for me during the entire period. This is a good chance to thank her for sharing her great experiences with me, but also for making me feel a part of the great team of people working at the Department. During my stay I observed numerous English classes with different lecturers, interviewed and surveyed most of the lecturers and learned how English language classes can be more than plain grammar lessons. The Head of the Humanities Department, Dr. Otto Maderdonner, was also extremely helpful in providing support and information. I learned that teaching English language can help young future professionals to be efficient in communicating their novel ideas, which is as important as developing them. All the collected data will be part of my master thesis “Specific features of ESP courses in developed and developing countries: differences and similarities between UAS Technikum Wien, Austria and University of Bihać, Bosnia and Herzegovina”. Furthermore, I had a chance to meet and speak with many interesting people who provided significant input for my research.  Due to the efforts of Ms Lisa Nazarenko, I was introduced to Professor Henry Widdowson, an authority in Applied Linguistics whose work I have followed but could not have imagined I would be able to meet.

Finally, the period I have spent at UAS Technikum Wien has made me understand that you can feel at home everywhere, as long as there are people who embrace you as a friend. At Technikum Wien I did not only feel at the right place for my research, there I felt at home.

Džalila Muharemagić, OeAD/CEEPUS III Scholarship holder