The Current State of Biomimetics in Austria

Dear readers,

I have an important, more personal topic this week: The actual status of Biomimetics/Biomimicry in Austria.

As most of you know, we – the writers of Blogionik, all studied at CUAS Villach. In the last weeks I got some mails, calls and discussions concerning the current state of the course itself. Some of you noticed that the link to the course description was offline. That had reason! For this year, the course is put on hold; therefore there will be no new students in 2017. Next year, according to the current statement from the CUAS Villach, the course will be continued. There is no further comment for the reason about the break. That is the official state of the course.

The other perspective is my point of view, which I got by investigating the case.

For that I would like to give you some small numbers, which are legit:

Each alumni of the “Biomimetics in Energy Systems” course in Villach has a regular job, a PhD position (or is in a maternity break ;)). At the same time, the course has a very low drop rate. These are very important points to evaluate a study program at a university of applied sciences. Of course, nothing is perfect. So is the number of actual students per semester quite low. The course has maximum only 20 students per semester, which was actually never reached and is more around ~10 students per semester.

This is the only argument I heard till now. For the Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy the low student count does not seem to be an issue. Because of the very high rating of alumni in job/research and the low drop rate.

The CUAS Villach administration seems to have a complete different point of view. Actually, the biomimetic course should have never happened (some members of the admin board shared this opinion) and the low student count is the main argument since the start of the course. What they try to do, is to shut down the course entirely. Because of rising discussion about closing the course, the administration is denying the fact they want to do it. That is why we have now the “break” announcement.

We had discussions about restructuring the course, changing the language from English to German etc. Nothing of that is actually planned!

In fact, we do not know, if the course will be continued in 2018. The most important thing for us is now, to get as many as possible applications, to prove them wrong.

Based from what I heard and know inside and outside of the CUAS, some trouble concerning the course could be based on a personal rivalry.

Usually it could never happen, that one single person can cause so much trouble, but when different administration boards have the same chairman, the principle of check and balances can be corrupted.

Of course, my position and opinion is biased as well as the people where I got my information. This topic is personal, so I wanted to write about it, but please be aware that this cannot be objective.

 

Good Things with Biomimetics

Where are shadows is always light. Some good turns were also made in the last time. You have now the chance to study “Bio Inspired Engineering” at the University of Applied Science in Kufstein/Tirol. It seems that Prof. Dipl.-Ing. Dr. techn. Ille Gebeshuber gave some support to it. (By the way, if you want to know more about her, you can find an interview with her right here on the Blog).

For more information about the new course, just follow the link:

https://www.fh-kufstein.ac.at/eng/Study/Post-Graduate/Bio-Inspired-Engineering

 

bionikum:austria

The society of Biomimetics/Biomimicry in Austria. It was founded 2012 in Villach. For more information you can follow this link. We have some well-known members, like Prof. Dr. Helmut Tributsch, Prof. Dipl.-Ing. Dr. techn. Ille Gebeshuber and D.ID. Mag.Peter Piccottini. About 3 weeks ago I got a seat on the board of the society. Some members are still very important for the university course, so I got a lot of information there.

Being part of the board brings of course more responsibility. For that reason, I take part of the online representation beside my main function as deputy secretary. Furthermore, I try to create some incentives to attract more active people to our society to achieve more progress in our current topics. Currently we are working on topics like: bee deaths in the region of Villach, club pub, or the organization of the next Biomimetics symposium in Warmbad/Villach.

In the end, I will post what Anja expects from bionikum:austria:

For me, bionikum could be the most important contributor of making this binding of students to the industry – that they would be searching for companies interested in taking students for their biomimetic research (master thesis) and therefore promote biomimetics and increase the chances of biomimetic engineers to actually get a job in that field when they perform well. Industry must somehow realize that biomimetics is the key for innovation and if no one pushes that, nothing will happen…”

This is one of the greater goals to achieve, for all of us.

Kind regards,

Jan

Jan Berger

I'm Jan and I'm exploring this world since 1986. I work as an laboratory technician for surface analytics in the wonderful city of Villach/Austria. Before that I studied Bionik/Biomimetics in Energy Systems (MSc) and I have a degree as a Bachelor of Engineering for Renewable Energy Engineering. My favorite topics are membranes (biological and mechanical ones) and trees. Besides my job I administrate this blog and other homepages. Besides I do a bunch of other geeky stuff including lecturing biomimetics.

3 Comments

  1. Anna Joel   •  

    There is also a group in Linz, which works on biomimetic topics:
    http://www.jku.at/mmt/content/e317729

    One of the former PhDs (Bostjan Vihar) has published an article on this homepage 😉

  2. Immanuel S.   •  

    Hi Jan,

    Thank you for writing about this stuff here.

    As one of the first alumni of Biomimetics in Energy Systems studies i am really disappointed of the management of the CUAS Carinthia University of Applied Sciences / FH Kärnten.
    I really hate the way they are trying to resolve this, the management is acting so cowardly…
    Not even the lecturers got an personal information about it.

    It seems, they want let it die slowly and quietly….

    What we can do about it? Writing emails to the management:

    http://www.fh-kaernten.at/ueber-die-fh/organisation/hochschulleitung/geschaeftsfuehrung/
    to Mr. Spanz and Mrs. Gärtner

    This will not help much, so better do something in public:

    Post a link to this blog on facebook:
    https://www.facebook.com/FHKaerntenCUAS/
    Ask there about the studies next semester and so on….

    That could help to get a little attention!

    Grüße Immanuel

    PS: Perhaps one could also send a link from your blog to kleine zeitung or to some other newspaper?

  3. Jan Berger   •     Author

    Hello,

    we are currently thinking about appropriate actions.
    Mails to the management could be an idea, but you are right, it is neccessary to work in public.

    For all of you, feel free to share this article and more important your opinion wherever you think it should be.

    kind regards,
    Jan

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