Prof. Dr.-Ing. Jörg Steinbach : BTU Cottbus-Senftenberg – Research and teaching regionally and globally

With about 8,300 students, Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus-Senftenberg (BTU) is the second-largest university and the only university of technology in the state of Brandenburg. With a focus on research, the university also offers applied studies programmes. Over 21 per cent of the students come from more than 100 different countries around the world to study in the Lusatia region.

BTU Cottbus-Senftenberg (BTU) is a young technical university, which combines university and applied studies programmes. Research, teaching, advanced training and knowledge and technology transfer form an inseparable unity in this. Against this backdrop, BTU places great importance on collaboration with other universities and non-university research institutes, regional SMEs and large and globally operating corporations. BTU focuses on the following future-oriented topic clusters:

  • Energy Efficiency and Sustainability
  • Smart Regions and Heritage
  • Biotechnology for Environment and Health
  • Cognitive and Dependable Cyber-Physical Systems

The university fosters knowledge and technology transfer and contributes to securing qualified workers through a number of measures. In particular, these include the establishment of dual degree programmes initially started in 2015 and BTU’s assistance in start-up initiatives through institutional measures. Young start-ups create new impetus to the regional economy and modern forms of collaboration.

BTU Cottbus-Senftenberg has gained a high level of renown in established areas, both in Germany and internationally. It not only cooperates with universities and research centres abroad but also with large and globally operating companies. Together with the Rolls Royce University Technology Centre, BTU is part of the company’s international network – thus making it one of only 24 universities worldwide and one of only four in Germany.

Strong research. With its new orientation, BTU Cottbus-Senftenberg strives to raise its profile in currently four research topic clusters: Smart Regions and Heritage, Energy Efficiency and Sustainability, Biotechnology for Environment and Health, and Cognitive and Dependable Cyber-Physical Systems. These topics have been the focus of intensive and successful research for many years, and the objective now is to build on these achievements. A strategic appointment policy will strengthen the departments in such a way that the first benefits of the programme can already be reaped in a few years.

Smart Regions and Heritage. In the thematic complex of Smart Regions and Heritage, scientists conduct re­search on topics with high regional relevance, such as the transformations of a region after the cessation of coal mining, and the resulting structural problems in cities and municipalities. Environmental impacts also pose challenges to scientific research in terms of impaired water balance and soil conditions. The complex also includes issues of demographic change: renaturation of cities and the resulting changes in traffic and supply infrastructures and all their associated follow-up problems. The topic of “Heritage” bridges the gap between cultural and technical values that are to be researched on a regional level and international World Heritage Sites. All the topics mentioned here share the feature that the solutions developed on site can be tested in the Lusatia region, thus actively contributing to resolving international social issues. This creates great interest and international demand for our expe­ri­mental research results.

Energy Efficiency and Sustainability. The topic of energy efficiency and sustainability has a high priority, in particular with regard to the knowledge and technology transfer both for the region and on an international level. As a result, research focuses on developing efficiency-enhancing measures in conventional power plants and increasing the flexibility of complex plants. This also includes the development of energy storage systems such as hybrid power plants. The exciting topic of electric mobility and issues concerning the stability of power networks in the context of the energy transition have been one of the BTU’s research pillars for many years now. Other important aspects include Industry 4.0, i.e. solutions for increasing efficiency through automation and digitalisation of industrial processes, and the de­­velop­­ment of efficient and environmentally friendly drive systems for combustion engines, gas turbines, aircraft engines and microturbines.

Biotechnology for Environment and Health. Along with biotechnology, other disciplines such as chemistry, environmental and healthcare sciences are of great im­­portance within this research complex. The search for so­­lutions to problems that fundamentally characterise the 21st century is considered the common denominator for research topics discussed in this context – resource scarcity, environmental and climate changes, the return of infectious diseases and the increase in diseases due to demographic change. In the field of biotechnology, the scientists explore cell-based approaches and develop processes and de­­vices for medical diagnostics. Technical microbiology focuses on enzyme-base processes that offer many benefits compared to traditional chemical approaches. The most important research areas in chemistry include issues relating to materials chemistry and the synthesis of ma­­terials for use in energy storage solutions. The field of environmental research covers the following topics: water quality and treatment, waste management and process engineering solutions. In health care sciences, research focuses on new forms of therapy and care against the background of an increasingly ageing society.

Cognitive and Dependable Cypher-Physical Systems. The research area “Cognitive and Dependable Cyber-Physical Systems” (CPS) bears great potential for innovation and thus is of great importance to economy and society. Com­­puters, in particular in form of so-called embedded systems, have entered virtually all areas of modern life. “Cog­­nitive and Dependable Cyber-Physical Systems” have been developed as complex, powerful systems and integrated systems of software and hardware that are controlled by a network of embedded computers. The resulting fields of application are manifold, ranging from automatic control of building technology, cars and aircraft to semi-autonomous control of power plants, energy and traffic networks up to smart cities, networked production, assistance systems and telemedicine.

There are quite a number of challenges for research in this context that BTU scientists need to face. Besides basic technologies for embedded and cyber-physical systems, this also includes other research areas such as access protection, predictability, security and dependability. Research in the field of “Cognitive Systems” is rooted in the interaction between information and communications technology systems and their environment and human beings. The objective is to explore cognitive capabilities and their mechanical implementation in technical systems that are not only smart but also cognitive.

Excellent teaching. BTU Cottbus-Senftenberg sees studying as a holistic concept. In the future, the BTU’s studies programmes will feature a special characteristic that is unique in Germany: the programme will allow for in­­creased movement between individual study courses. Even today, some of the study courses offered at the university enable both university education and education focused on applied sciences. With more than 70 study programmes at three campuses, BTU Cottbus-Senftenberg offers a broad spectrum of labour market-oriented and traditional study courses, ranging from natural and eng­in­eering sciences to business sciences, cultural studies and healthcare sciences. These programmes can be studied in university or application-oriented courses that match the profile of universities of applied sciences. BTU also offers individual time models such as full-time or part-time studies, studying while in employment or postgraduate studies that provide ideal conditions for balancing studies, career, children and family.

At three campuses, the university offers excellent conditions for research and teaching: the natural, engineering and business sciences are located in Cottbus and Senftenberg and the faculties of music and social pedagogy are found at the campus in Cottbus-Sachsendorf. The new faculty of healthcare and nursing sciences is currently being established at the Senftenberg campus, where it will be supplementing the available faculties of engineering sciences and biotechnology.

The best conditions for studying. With state-of-the-art technical equipment and excellent study conditions, the young BTU Cottbus-Senftenberg university guarantees practical and future-oriented education aligned with the needs of business, thus providing outstanding preparation for entering the labour market. The students will experience high-quality teaching combined with excellent support.

Study preparation at the college. With the Centre for Student Acquisition and University Preparation (College) unique in Brandenburg, BTU provides an outstanding offer to enable successful entrance to higher education. The offer is designed for all students who would like to refresh or catch up on their basic knowledge. Participation in college courses is useful for both people with professional qualifications and pupils that have dropped school subjects such as biology or physics in their senior class but need these subjects for their course of study. The college offers free pre-courses in topics such as mathematics, physics or engineering mechanics. The peer group mentoring programme ensures all students get off to the best possible start at the university. Furthermore, the college offers programmes that are intended to develop soft skills such as learning competencies and time and self-management, as well as an introduction to the requirements of scientific working.

Prof-_Joerg_Steinbach_2Process scientist Prof. Dr.-Ing- Jörg Steinbach was president of the TU Berlin from April 2010 to March 2014 and has been president of BTU Cottbus-Senftenberg since July 2014. Mr. Steinbach holds an honorary doctorate from the National University of Water Management and Nature Resources Use (Rivne, Ukraine) and the City University London as well as an honorary professorship at the East China University of Science and Technology in Shanghai.