On July 1st 2020, TU Graz Rector Harald Kainz will take over the TU Austria baton from Sabine Seidler, Rector of TU Vienna, and thus for one year the presidency of the alliance of the three Austrian universities of technology (TU Graz, TU Vienna and the University of Leoben). As of July 1st the Executive Committee will comprise the following persons: the President is Harald Kainz, Rector of Graz University of Technology; the Vice-Presidents are Sabine Seidler, Rector of Vienna University of Technology and Wilfried Eichlseder, Rector of the University of Leoben. The annual changeover takes place according to the TU Austria statutes.
After one year of presidency, Sabine Seidler sums up: “The promotion of young talents is an essential component in meeting the challenges of the future. The focus on joint MINT initiatives and the expansion of school cooperation supports this endeavour. The Corona crisis has delayed or made some activities more difficult, but at the same time has also produced new concepts. 10 years of TU Austria show that those involved have the potential and the will to help shape the educational landscape and develop solutions for society".
On the agenda: digitalisation and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals
Harald Kainz has an ambitious work programme for his TU Austria Presidency from 2020 to 2021. "A central focus of TU Austria continues to be the digitalisation of our universities in research, teaching and administration. The corona-related lockdown was to a certain extent a digitalisation stress test for the universities," says Harald Kainz, “And these experiences will drive forward the digital transformation at the universities even faster. Not least because of our pioneering role in the fields of technology and innovation, we at TU Austria are committed to finding the right mix of digital and analogue and to implementing it in an exemplary manner."
Sustainability and climate protection are also high on the agenda of TU Austria, which is committed to the United Nations' global agenda for sustainability. By 2030, 17 political goals – the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) – are to be achieved to ensure sustainable development worldwide at the economic, social and ecological level. TU Austria wants to raise awareness of the SDG and promote education for SDG-oriented developments. "Whether sustainable urban development, climate protection technologies, resilient infrastructure or education for all – the sphere of action of the TU Austria universities encompasses almost each of the 17 sustainability goals. In this respect, the universities of technology have an important role to play as initiators and co-designers of a sustainable society which we, in our turn, want to embrace with an honest and critical view of our own actions," emphasises Kainz, who currently also chairs the Climate Protection Advisory Council of the City of Graz.
TU Austria Innovation Marathon goes digital
An annual fixture on the TU Austria agenda is the Innovation Marathon at the Technology Talks of the Alpbach European Forum. The fifth edition of this event has a novelty this year due to the coronavirus: the innovation marathon will take place virtually, but the basic principle remains the same. Multidisciplinary and international teams of students work on real tasks of Austrian companies in exactly 24 hours and present their innovative solutions at the end of the marathon. This time, 50 students are taking part, working in ten teams of five via Zoom with the innovation coaches and companies. The starting signal for the Innovation Marathon is given on Thursday, August 27 at 2 p.m.; the presentation of the results will be streamed on Friday at 2 p.m. For details see https://www.innovations-marathon.org. TU Austria is also contributing a breakout session on "Hydrogen Technologies" to the Alpbach Technology Talks. The programme of the Alpbach European Forum 2020 can be found online from July 7th at https://2020.alpbach.org/
10 years of TU Austria
The TU Austria presidency of Harald Kainz also coincides with the 10-year anniversary of this university group, which was launched in 2010. Since then, the three universities of technology, TU Vienna, TU Graz and the University of Leoben, have been pursuing concerns and demands in the areas of research, teaching and university policy under the motto "Together for Austria's future". TU Austria brings together almost 45,300 students and some 9,800 staff and thus represents a nationally and internationally important, clearly visible university forum. A summary of the first decade of TU Austria can be found here in an OTS broadcast (German only).