2nd Bergisch Innovation and Education Convention

Yesterday, the Wuppertal University Friends and Alumni Association (GFBU) awarded the Bergisch Prize for Research & Knowledge Transfer for the second time. The main prize which includes an endowment of 10,000 euro, was awarded jointly to Prof. Dr.-Ing. Hartmut Beckedahl and Christian Nafe for their “Pothole Elimination with Microwave Asphalt” research project. Special prizes of 2500 euro each were awarded to Prof. Dr. Bärbel Diehr, Jan Kassel and Ralf Gießler for their “MobiDic – Mobile Dictionaries” initiative, Prof. Dr. Gela Preisfeld and Dr. Karsten Damerau for the “Bell Bio – Bergisches Lehr-Lernlabor” project, and Prof. Dr. Michael Tausch and Dr. Amitabh Banerji for their “Organic Electronics in Curricular Innovation”.

“The GFBU’s Bergisch Prize for Research & Knowledge Transfer was created in the knowledge that by no means can a thriving relationship between universities and industry be taken for granted”, as Rüdiger Theis, GFBU Councillor and originator of the prize, explained to the Chamber of Industry and Commerce for Wuppertal-Solingen-Remscheid during the prize-giving ceremony during the 2nd Bergisch Innovation and Education Convention. “That’s why it pays to identify any successful cases, and to study and learn from them”.

President of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce Thomas Meyer agrees: “The GFBU is also aware of the importance of a close collaboration between industry and science”, he said: “This initiative gives me great pleasure as does the fact that it places a spotlight on the research and knowledge transfer that is so important to us all”. He also thanked the sponsors of the Prize for Research & Knowledge Transfer. A total of nine companies contributed to the prize fund, the sole purpose of which is to providing financial support for future research projects at the University of Wuppertal.

The Bergisch Prize for Research & Knowledge Transfer is awarded to researchers who have achieved outstanding progress in the context of research-practice-based collaboration initiatives (involving industrial enterprises, schools, social institution, municipalities etc.) and have made a major contribution to research & knowledge transfer. As Theis explains: “Whenever we think of research & knowledge transfer we often think in terms of industry. This year, the fact that the University of Wuppertal has also completed numerous educational research & knowledge transfer projects involving schools and schoolchildren was acknowledged through the award of three special prizes!”

The two winners of the main prize, Professor Hartmut Beckedahl (Road Design and Construction) and Christian Nafe, addressed the issue of makeshift repairs to damaged roads in their “Pothole Elimination with Microwave Asphalt” research project, which was funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs. The project, which was carried out in collaboration with the Bielefeld-based company Asphalt Kleemann, involved the development of a special self-sealing asphalt, sold in portable quantities that can be melted with a transportable microwave generator for manual on-site pothole repairs. “As such, minor damages can be repaired in a precise and durable manner shortly after discovery” Prof. Beckedahl explains.

Another special prize was awarded for the “MobiDic – Mobile Dictionaries” project, a long-term study of the use of portable electronic dictionaries in the teaching of English. The research group led by Professor Dr. Bärbel Diehr (The Didactics of English), Jan Kassel and Ralf Gießler equipped around 70 school children from secondary and comprehensive schools in Wuppertal with electronic dictionaries for a period of two years. The central result, according to Prof. Diehr, was that: “Poorer performing students of English are much more likely to use a mobile dictionary than a traditional paper-based dictionary. And, after two years of consistent use, they now have an impressive level of methodological competence!”

The “Bell Bio – Bergisches Lehr-Lernlabor” is a free extracurricular teaching and learning resource, developed by Professor Dr. Gela Preisfeld (Zoology and the Didactics of Biology) and Dr. Karsten Damerau. According to Prof. Preisfeld, “Bell Bio kindles a sense of fascination among school children and provides a space for study and research for students.” She and her team also received a special prize from the GFBU for the project. The project focuses on laboratory-based courses in Biology for school children in Secondary Levels I and II. They are supervised by student teachers and researchers. In addition, trainee teachers and experienced teachers can use it to get ideas for their own lessons.

The third of the special prizes was awarded to Dr. Michael Tausch (Chemistry and the Didactics of Chemistry) and his colleague Dr. Amitabh Banerji for their “Organic Electronics in Curricular Innovation” project. In the course of the project, the two chemistry teachers tackled the subject of conjugated polymers, a new class of plastic semiconductors, which are used in the field of so-called organic electronics. Tausch and Banerji developed an experiment that can be performed in schools for the cost-effective production of OLED displays. “From a teaching perspective”, Prof. Tausch explains: “this product is an appropriate example of ways in which it may be possible to exploit this innovative field of study”.

Regional researchers and entrepreneurs came together at the second Bergisch Innovation and Education Convention presented by the Chamber of Industry and Commerce for Wuppertal-Solingen-Remscheid. Present at the event was Svenja Schulze, Minister for Innovation Management in North Rhine-Westphalia. With a specific focus on the electro-engineering and IT, metal working and textile and chemical industries, three simultaneous workshops addressed ways to improve collaboration between industry and science, exploit existing networks and secure skilled personnel.

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