Bielefeld professors, engineers discuss sustainable engineering, industry integration at Birzeit University

The visit is part of a larger global networking effort by the university

Civil engineers, professors, and social scientists from Bielefeld University, Germany, visited Birzeit University’s campus on April 16, 2018, to explore possible channels of academic cooperation, training opportunities, and expertise exchange between the two institutions. 

The group met with External Academic Relations Officer Dr. Amir Khalil and discussed instruments of cooperation, such as the Erasmus+ Key Action 1, faculty-level cooperation, staff mobility, and German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) projects. 

The group also met with Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Technology Dr. Khaled Abaza, Chair of the Department of Civil Engineering Dr. Ziad Mimi, Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering Dr. Omar Zimmo, Architectural Engineering Instructor Dima Yaser, and Associate Professor of Architectural Engineering Dr. Salem Thawaba. 

Abaza introduced the group to the faculty’s various programs and departments and outlined the faculty’s vision for future development in sustainable engineering. 

The group, together with the faculty members, discussed the future of sustainable and intelligent engineering, sustainable architecture, the involvement of the broader community in the engineering process, and the restructuring of academic programs to better meet society’s modern demands. 

One of the main talking points in the meeting was the integration of internships and training opportunities within academic engineering programs, and better links between the industry and universities, both locally and internationally. The meeting also saw the two teams discuss outsourcing engineering projects from Germany, where there is a lack of engineers, to Palestine, where universities graduate a large number of qualified, competent engineers. 

The group also met with Vice President for Planning and Development Dr. Mirvat Bulbul, who brought them up-to-speed on the university’s three-pronged approach to innovation and entrepreneurship. 

The university, said Bulbul, has three projects through which it plans to spur innovation and stir the students’ entrepreneurial spirit. The first is the Leadership and Active Citizenship Program – Masari, an innovative co-curricular program that builds capacities of all students, and in the process, trains faculty members and staff on entrepreneurship. 

The second of these projects is the university’s innovation labs, such as the VLSI Lab. These labs provide students with spaces to apply their knowledge and attain real-life skills and experience. 

The third innovation and entrepreneurship project is the university’s B-Hub, a startup incubator that nurtures socially-conscious, novel ideas and provides them with the needed technical, technological, and infrastructure support needed to develop into fully-fledged, standalone businesses.