Thomas Gries - European University Association

eua.be

Thomas Gries - European University Association

The global knowledge race – Building effective

interdisciplinary research structures for a better

international competitive positioning

EUA-Workshop 11./12. February 2005

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Dipl.-Wirt.Ing. Thomas Gries

1


Examples

Interdisciplinary

Crosslinking

International

benchmarking

and

future challenges

Structure

and

Management

Background

History

and

Development

2


Background

Figures RWTH Aachen University

80 under- and

postgraduate

courses

31000 students

410 professors

2000 non-academic

staff

2000 academic staff

362 Mill. EUR (without

external funding)

142 Mill. EUR

external funding

3


Background

Global problems e.g.

increasing dissipation of resources,

dangerous threats through the forces of nature e.g.

flooding,

constantly growing complexity of questions in research and

development,

require the combination of the knowledge of heterogeneous disciplines to

find appropiate solutions.

RWTH Aachen University recognized this development very early and

created appropriate structures to ensure the interdisciplinary treatment of

these decisive questions.

4


Examples

Interdisciplinary

Crosslinking

International

benchmarking

and

future challenges

Structure

and

Management

Background

History

and

Development

5


History and Development

At the end of the 1980s RWTH Aachen University decided to create a

pattern to foster interdisciplinary activities:

The “Interdisciplinary Forums”.

In 1988 the first Interdisciplinary Forum with the thematic priority on “Space

Research” was established.

Up-to-date there are six Forums, which cover the following topics:

Environmental Science,

Life Sciences,

Information Technology,

Technology and Society,

Material Science,

Mobility and Transport.

6


History and Development

The Interdisciplinary Forums are

a co-operation network of scientists of RWTH

Aachen thinking beyond and acting outside their traditional

boundaries

virtual research laboratories for the handling of complex

questions

a platform and structure for interdisciplinary collaboration and

integration of core competences in

- research and

- education

within RWTH Aachen University.

7


History and Development

Activities of the Interdisciplinary Forums

Research and Development

- interdisciplinary Centers of Competence

- interdisciplinary projects

- co-operation with external partners in science, business

and society

Training/Teaching

- graduate programmes

- interdisciplinary courses

- interdisciplinary seminars and lectures

Public dialogue

- congresses and workshops

- publications, fairs and exhibitions

- contacts to schools, science-competitions for

pupils

8


Examples

Interdisciplinary

Crosslinking

International

benchmarking

and

future challenges

Structure

and

Management

Background

History

and

Development

9


Structure and Management

10


Structure and Management

Integration in the Administration of RWTH Aachen University

RWTH RWTH Aachen Aachen University

Department Dez. 4.0 Technology

Transfer and Research

Funding

Innovationstransfer

Technologietransfer 4.1

Technology Transfer

Innovation Transfer

EU-Büro

Foren

Interdiscipl.

Forums

Forschungsförderung

Forschungsmarketing

4.2

Research Funding

Research Marketing

EU-Office

at 6. RFP

11


Examples

Interdisciplinary

Crosslinking

International

benchmarking

and

future challenges

Structure

and

Management

Background

History

and

Development

12


Interdisciplinary Crosslinking

Development of memberships of all Forums

400

300

200

100

173

(1991)*

Sum of members per forum

Sum of involved persons

344

(2004)

1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004

* Memberships before 1991 not available

13


Interdisciplinary Crosslinking

Distribution of the members of all Interdisciplinary Forums to the faculties

Business and

Economics

4%

Humanities

11%

Electrical

Engineering and

Information

Technology

9%

Medicine

12%

Georesources and

Material Technology

14%

Mathematics,

Computer Science

and Natural Sciences

24%

Mechanical

Engineering

20%

Architecture

1%

Civil Engineering

5%

14


Interdisciplinary Crosslinking

Distinguishing Collaboration of Interdisciplinary Forums

Technology and Society

Information Technology

Materials Science

Environmental Science

Mobility and Transport

Life Sciences

Natural Sciences

Architecture

Civil Engineering

Mechanical Engineering

Mining, Geology, Metallurgy,

Electrical Engineering

Humanities

Economics

Medicine

Traditional faculty structure

15


Examples

Interdisciplinary

Crosslinking

International

benchmarking

and

future challenges

Structure

and

Management

Background

History

and

Development

16


Examples

RWTH Aachen University offers various interdisciplinary research activities

which are in majority crosslinked to the Interdisciplinary Forums.

14 Collaborative Research Centres, e.g.

- Textile-Reinforced Concrete

- Environmentally Friendly Tribosystems

- Integral Material Modeling

6 Graduate Colleges, e.g.

- Elimination of Endocrine-disrupting Substances from Waste Water

- Software for Communication Systems

16 Interdisciplinary Competence Centres, e.g.

- Aachen Polymer Chain

- Virtual Reality Center Aachen

Virtual Reality Center Aachen

Graduiertenkolleg

Software für

Kommunikationssysteme

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Examples

Collaborative Research Center: “Environmentally friendly tribosystems”

Task:

Development of new environmentally friendly fluids and

new PVD surface coated materials for their usage in tribosystems of

standard machine tools.

Advantage:

Additives are no longer required due to the use of specially coated materials.

Precondition:

Interdisciplinary cooperation among different

faculty areas.

Collaboration of engineers, material scientists,

chemists and medics.

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Examples

Competence Center “Aachen Polymer Chain”

180

140

100

Production of crude steel and plastics 1950 -2000

60

20

Mrd. Liter

Rohstahl

Kunststoff

Plastics

Worldproduction 2000:

Plastics

Crude Steel

1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000

*) incl. Glues,

Lacquers,

Dispersions,

Fibres, etc.

180 Mio. t = 180 Mrd. Liter

880 Mio. t = 110 Mrd. Liter

Volume: 1kg Plastic = 1 Liter; 8 kg Crude Steel = 1 Liter Source:VKE

19


Examples

“Aachen Polymer Chain”: Network of competences for polymers along the whole

value creation chain

Objective

Initiation of interdisciplinary research projects

Powerful partner of the industry and the public authorities

Strengthening Aachen as the worldwide biggest location for instruction on

polymers

20


Examples

Interdisciplinary

Crosslinking

International

benchmarking

and

future challenges

Structure

and

Management

Background

History

and

Development

21


International benchmarking and future challenges

International benchmarking

In October 2004 the Interdisciplinary Forums completed an internal

evaluation.

Benchmark with 12 other international universities e.g.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology,

Imperial College London and

NTNU Trondheim.

Exemplary results of the benchmark:

a) Topics

RWTH Aachen University works in majority within the same thematic

areas like the other enquired universities.

In contrary to most of the other universities, RWTH Aachen University

additionally focusses on research and development in the trendsetting

area of mobility and transport.

22


International benchmarking and future challenges

b) Structures and organisation of interdisciplinary research

18 N = 100%

interdisciplinary centres (N = 9)

NTNU Trondheim,Universität Stuttgart,

MIT,Imperial College, Stanford

University,TU München,

Tsinghua University, Europa-Universität

Viadrina,ETH Zürich

network-Model (N = 5)

NTNU Trondheim,TU Delft, KU

Leuven,TU Berlin,MIT

network-model

28%

reorganisation of

faculties

11%

forum-Model (N = 2)

NTNU,

Trondheim,

TU Berlin

forum-model

11%

reorganisation of faculties (N = 2)

MIT,

ETH Zürich

interdisciplinary

centres

50%

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International benchmarking and future challenges

Challenges for the Future

Research and Development

Identification and discussion of future research trends on national and

international level at an early stage.

Research policy

Better cooperation of the Interdisciplinary Forums with national research

organisations and the European Commission

Assumption of functions in these facilities through members of the forums.

Marketing

Improving external and internal presentation of the competences of RWTH

Aachen University.

Advancement of younger researchers

Integration of younger research associates in the forums.

Involvement of students in interdisciplinary research teams.

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Contact:

Thank you very much for your attention!

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Dipl.-Wirt.Ing. Thomas Gries

Director of the Institut für Textiltechnik

E-Mail: kontakt@ita.rwth-aachen.de

Phone: +49 241 80 - 95 621

Fax: +49 241 80 - 92149

Address: Institut für Textiltechnik

Eilfschornsteinstraße 18

D-52062 Aachen

Germany

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