Science and research look beyond borders in developing idea exchanges, arguments and impulses, in cooperation and in competition. The University of Stuttgart avails itself intensively of the opportunities for international collaboration within the framework of the HORIZON European research program. It also partners outside Europe’s boundaries in international networks that invigorate the global research landscape.
International research is going on in all disciplines at the University of Stuttgart and on all rungs of the scientific ladder. The examples presented here are a representative sampling.
Selected international research activities
Geodesy, the science of measuring and representing the earth’s surface, is particularly dependent on international collaboration. The data collected gives clues to global climate change, to droughts or natural catastrophes. With the help of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), in 2015, the University of Stuttgart acts to advance the global networking of the research community in the geodesy field. The DAAD funds are not only destined for staffing positions and buying equipment, but also above all to foster exchanges of people and knowledge, for example, in the complex evaluation of satellite data.
Participating in the project are five of the University’s institutes plus their international partners. Important partner universities are in China, among them the Wuhan University, renowned in the area of surveying, and Shanghai’s Tonji University.
To drive innovation and in particular the industry 4.0 paradigm, the University of Stuttgart and Shanghai Institute of Smart Manufacturing (SISM)/China built an international research area. One aspect of the cooperation are so-called Joint Research Labs at SISM, in which one professor from each partner country and their respective teams jointly work on a research topic and share use of the project apparatus. Also participating in the Labs is the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation (IPA) with the start set for 2017.
The concrete problems to be investigated are currently being worked out and will focus especially on the areas of mechanical engineering and manufacturing technologies. Infrastructure construction costing several million euros comes from the government’s “China 2025” program; the Chinese side also pays for equipment and staff. In addition, the cooperation covers funding for PhDs in Stuttgart and in Shanghai.
A research exchange program started in 2011 between the Indian Institute of Technology in Mandi/India and the TU9 universities is coordinated by the University of Stuttgart. The focus is on problems in civil engineering. Important points in this are, for example, innovative building using traditional materials, lightweight construction, and recyclable building materials, earthquake research and building in earthquake zones, energy supplies and water management as well as waste disposal. In 2016, the collaboration was expanded to include the Structural Engineering Research Center (SERC) in Chennai (Madras state). Already in 2015, Bachelor’s and a Master’s study program were set up, whose curriculums oriented to the conditions in the Himalaya region.
Research is more active than ever where disciplines intersect, because unknown phenomena are so complex that they are better explained by the different approaches of individual fields. Examples of this at the University of Stuttgart are computer linguistics (linguistics and computer science), digital humanities (German literature and computer science), infrastructure planning (architecture, engineering, and social sciences) or estimating the consequences of technology and respectively risk management (natural sciences, engineering sciences, and social sciences). Other subjects such as health and technology in an aging society, climate change, the energy revolution or water management for world population growth and warming will in the future be added in strengthened fashion.
Also focused on this type of interface is the collaboration between the University of Stuttgart and the Università degli Studi di Bergamo in Lombardy/Italy. A strategic network like this facilitates intensive research and learning cooperations in different areas. So, for instance, in October 2016 started the “DROPIT” German-Italian graduate college (see below) funded by the German Research Society (DFG). Other areas of cooperation pertain to the International Center for Culture and Technology Research (IZKT), the Institute of Business Administration (chaired by Prof. Oesterle) and the Language Center at the University of Stuttgart.
The NUPUS Stuttgart Research Partnership emerged in 2015 from the graduate college “Nonlinearity and Upscaling in porous media,” in which young scientists and students exchange knowledge on various approaches to researching porous media. The focus is especially on the question of how fluids, gases, and particles spread in porous media. The applications stretch from water research to batteries. With the SRP’s founding, several other universities and research institutes joined the partnership, from Germany, Italy, Great Britain, Norway, Poland, Belgium, Netherlands, Switzerland, and USA.
Whether it involves spray cooling of foodstuffs, evaporative processes or combustion processes in the engine, how droplets behave vis a vis each other and toward their environment plays an important role in many industrial applications. Technical progress in this field calls for development of adequate computational approaches. But, this is possible only if difficult-to-observe detailed processes are analyzed at the phase boundary and the surface microstructure. This is the objective of an Italian-German graduate college at the University of Stuttgart that is funded with 3.5 million euro by the German Research Society (DFG).
Not only established researchers but also young scientific talent is welcome for research stays at the University of Stuttgart. The entry point for it is provided by the Stuttgart University Program for Experiencing Research (SUPER) that gives priority to undergraduates at North American elite universities like MIT, Purude, or the University of Toronto. During their two-to-three month guest stays, the participants are mainstreamed into a research project at guest institutes and experience what research and life in Germany are like.