Review: Symposium in Erbil in November 2014

At the symposium in Erbil, the focus was on practical higher education in cooperation with companies, based on the model of the TU Bergakademie Freiberg.

At the northern Iraqi Salahaddin University in Erbil, from the 12th to 13th November, a symposium of the German - Iraqi cooperation project "Mechanical Engineering Germany - Iraq " (MEGI) took place. Focus lay on a practical higher education in cooperation with companies. In this area, the education of engineers at the TU Bergakademie Freiberg is exemplary.

Opening a new laboratory Group picture in front of the building of the Department of Mechanical Engineering in Erbil/Iraq Dr.-Ing. Abdulkader Kadauw, and Prof. Dr.-Ing. Jürgen Bast (right) See the whole photogallery of the symposium

Professor Emeritus Jürgen Bast of the Institute for Machine Elements, Construction and Manufacturing, and the project coordinator Manuela Junghans travelled from Freiberg to Erbil. From Iraq there were representatives of six universities, of the Kurdish Ministries of Trade and Industry as well as of Construction and Housing, and a number of firms from the region. The coordinator of the symposium, Dr. Abdulkader Kadauw of the Institute for Machine Elements, Construction and Manufacture at the TU Bergakademie Freiberg, drew a positive conclusion; the promise and interest of the all the participants was substantial. Now is the time for reinforced advertisement for the cooperation between the Iraqi universities, the partners in Germany and companies. “Inviting companies into joint discussions about possibilities for cooperation with universities, is a first for the universities in northern Iraq. The professors report that collaboration and communication do not work, and thus that very few industry placements can be implemented. As a result the graduates have a lack of practical knowledge and skills”. Thus Dr. Kadauw justified the decision to open the symposium to companies.

In the course of the symposium two new laboratories were officially opened at the Salahaddin University; one for thermodynamic testing and one for material analysis. The university itself provided the funds for the equipment. "At the start of the project in 2009, we found here at the Department of Mechanical Engineering eight laboratories, but almost no equipment,” recalls Prof. Bast. Five years later, the northern Iraqi university has over 13 laboratories with high quality scientific analysis equipment.

Prof. Bast told his Iraqi colleagues of the education of engineers at the TU Bergakademie Freiberg. For example, a 14-week internship is designed for the course Bachelor of Engineering, from which the task for the subsequent Bachelor’s thesis is derived. In 2013 the graduate Binar Ismael completed four weeks training at the TU Bergakademie Freiberg. For three months she has been a maintenance engineer in a steel company in Erbil. “Having ‘Practical training in Germany’ on my CV definitely had a big influence on my employment,” says the 21 year old.

Prof. Bast and Dr. Kadauw initiated the German-Iraqi cooperation project in the field of mechanical engineering, MEGI, in 2009. After Prof. Bast’s retirement, Prof. Bertram Hentschel took over the leadership. The aim of the project is to improve the quality of the research and teaching at Iraqi universities. DAAD began funding with 100000 Euros annually, and then from 2012 with 200000 Euros annually. The money paid for student exchanges, multi week training, staff positions, and the equipment for a manufacturing laboratory at the Salahaddin University in Erbil.

In Erbil, the security situation is deemed stable despite the proximity to areas that are controlled by the radical group "Islamic State". During their stay, the participants were able to view unmolested tourist attractions in Erbil . Project Coordinator Manuela Junghans visited the city for the fourth time and said "Life here in Erbil seems to be unchanged. I experience a vibrant city with friendly, welcoming people. The scientists of the partner universities are grateful that we made the journey despite the difficult situation".

Report: Torsten Mayer
Translation: Hannah Towner
Photos: Torsten Mayer