Tackling the Digital Challenge at UAS Technikum Wien

07. März 2019

Digitalisation is changing our lives at an exponential speed. Engineering procedures are becoming more complex and demand flexibility, technological development has to respect the life cycle of resources, and social structures are dissolving and facing great pressure due to global changes. What are the solutions? Digitalisation can create a link between different sectors while digital technologies connect organisations, social groups and enterprises and foster cross-sector activities. In sports a recent paradigm-shift has occurred from “the stronger one succeeds” to “the smarter one succeeds.” What is needed to stay on the winning side? New creative paths for Teaching the Digital Challenge were discovered during the fourth international week held at the University of Applied Sciences Technikum Wien (UASTW).

31 guests, 14 different countries, 4 days, 3 discussion topics and 1 excursion. By now, the extent of this year’s international week has grown substantially in terms of participants, thematic focus and inputs by partner institutions. Over the course of four days, from January 21 to January 24, 2019, academics and experts from all over Europe as well as China and Mongolia discussed issues surrounding three major themes: International Teaching Experiences, Digital Engineering Processes and Smart Living in Smart Buildings and Cities. All of them looked at through the lens of the week’s topic: Tackling the Digital Challenge.

A first highlight marked the key note on Missing Opportunities of Digitalization for Teaching and Learning given by Dominic Orr from the Research Institute for Economics of Education and Social Affairs. Mr. Orr talked about the changing types of students and learning experiences that are connected with the ongoing digitalization, arguing that it is important to consider these aspects in the development of curricula and the study environment. UAS Technikum Wien’s long-term partners of Mid Sweden University, Mikael Bäckström and Andrey Koptyug gave the second keynote on Additive Manufacturing. The last thematic input gave Buyan Munkhbayar from the Mongolian University of Science and Technology, a strategic partner of UASTW, together with Christoph Muss and Simon Schneider on International Development of Energy Efficient Buildings in the Context of Urbanisation.

Extending and contributing to a varied programme on Monday were students of UAS Technikum Wien who held poster presentations on their international projects, such as the Cooperative Student Project (CIP) in cooperation with the Lapland University of Applied Sciences (LUAS). Moreover, two representatives of the OeAD Housing Office, Barbara Mayr and Carina Kamptner, gave information on the summer schools on Green Building Solutions and Alternative Economic Systems which encourages students world-wide to spend instructive time in Vienna during the summer months.

In an award ceremony hosted by Rector Fritz Schmöllebeck and Luís Pereira, Assistant Professor at the Department for Engineering at Universidade de Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro (UTAD), UASTW colleagues Mathias Forjan, Matthias Frohner, and Philipp Urbauer received their doctoral degrees for their Ph.D. programme obtained at UTAD.  

Tuesday and Thursday gave the opportunity to fully dive into the main topics of the week. During three sessions, participants held presentations that delved into their research and experiences giving all attendees the possibility to get an understanding of each other’s scholarly work and activities. Among other talks, UASTW’s partners gave insights in new solutions for digital traffic services, user-friendly systems for smart cities, and challenges of energy efficient hotels in alpine regions. New developments in two upcoming technologies for future energy systems, solar cooling and battery storage systems, were presented. In addition, discussions about the drift to more complex systems versus user preferred low tec solutions were led. The session on Additive Manufacturing started with the presentation of the spin-off from the TU Vienna, the company Lithoz. Lithoz specializes in the development and production of materials and additive manufacturing systems for 3D printing high-performance ceramics. Ari Pikkarainen (LUAS), who works on his PhD in this field, put a focus on the pedagogical view by introducing topic of instruction of 3D printing in higher education during the week. Finally, Uwe Kersting from the Sports University Cologne introduced IMU methods that enable the monitoring of sport activities. The week also gave room for touring campus, visiting laboratories and networking talks concerning deepening cooperation and collaborative projects.

An excursion on Wednesday brought everyone out of Vienna and to Schwechat. The first highlight was the visit of the company Tyrolia as one of the world’s market leader for ski binding production. 3D digitalization of design samples is the basis for construction. After a presentation of the R&D department, where all products are tested and developed, a guided tour through the production lines was organized. The afternoon highlight was the visit of Austria’s biggest Airport, the Vienna International Airport. The guests were guided through the VIE visitors’ world with insights in flight security, plane cockpits, baggage logistics and an amazing visit of the tower. What a great view over hangars, and the minute-by-minute starting and landing of aircrafts. Participants were invited to look behind the scenes of the airport infrastructure as well as the airport’s energy and IT systems.

Apart from their academic and professional programme, the attendees also had time to explore Vienna’s cultural side. From an ice stock competition in front of Vienna’s historic Town Hall to the farewell dinner at Schutzhaus am Schafberg. With delicious Austrian food and wine, the evening gave a final opportunity to talk about the future of internationalisation and the digital challenge of our times. All in all, it was an exciting week that gave room to play with new ideas, plan future projects and engage with our international partners at UAS Technikum Wien!