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[Weekender] German university epitomizes educational hub vison

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Published : 2014-06-20 19:49
Updated : 2014-06-20 19:59

Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremburg (FAU), the first German university to open a Korean campus, is expected to fuel the Busan-Jinhae Free Economic Zone’s vision of becoming an educational hub.

The Busan Campus of the tech-oriented FAU opened in 2011 and is located within the BJFEZ. The school offers graduate programs in chemistry- and biotechnology-related subjects, and is a microcosm of its prestigious main campus with an educational philosophy that focuses on interdisciplinary cooperation.

“FAU Busan is closely cooperating with companies and other universities across borders to serve as the nucleus of BJFEZ to become an education hub,” Christoph Lindenberger, FAU Busan’s vice president, told The Korea Herald at his office Monday.

“The goal of the Korean campus is to educate academically well-versed engineers, who are interculturally competent as they have experienced different work environments during their studies,” he said.
Christoph Lindenberger, FAU Busan’s vice president. (BJFEZ)

FAU Busan was invited by Busan’s city government. It is located in Busan Techno Park, an industrial technology complex with factories, research institutes and academic institutions, to achieve technological innovation and to nurture new businesses.

Founded in 1743, FAU is among the 12 largest universities in Germany and famous for its science departments, which have produced three Nobel laureates in chemistry.

Last week, the school opened an R&D center together with the nation’s top 11 engineering schools, including KAIST and Seoul National University, to produce engineers by conducting collaborative research projects with 15 plant construction companies such as Samsung Engineering, SK Innovation and Hyundai Heavy Industries.

In addition, the Busan campus signed a memorandum of understanding with 23 German companies, including Siemens AG and bottling firm Krones, for internship programs that allow FAU Busan students to participate in the companies’ research projects.

“Our students must complete a mandatory internship and we also encourage students to spend one semester in Germany at the main campus,” Lindenberger said.

The school is now in negotiations with the authorities of the BJFEZ, to move to the Myeongji area where the government is planning to establish a global campus by attracting prestigious international schools.

The education institutions’ expenses for the early settlement and operation will be partially aided by Busan Metropolitan City and The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy for at least four years.

Along with the financial support from the government, theBJFEZ in the southeastern port city is also an attractive place to carry out bioprocess engineering research, Lindenberger’s speciality.

“Busan is an especially interesting area for my expertise. At the FAU Busan campus we work on research projects concerning microalgae and Busan is the perfect location for this,” Lindenberger said.

The FAU students also learn the principles of bioprocess engineering by brewing their own beer in a practical course, as beer is one of the oldest biotechnology products.

“The German Embassy in Korea sometimes asks us to bring the beer that students brewed. It’s got a unique taste,” Lindenberger said and laughed, while showing one laboratory’s beer brewing equipment.

FAU Busan attracted much attention from local and international students for running the same curriculum of the Erlangen campus with professors from Germany rotating across the two schools. This year, a total of 18 professors teach 44 students on the campus. All classes are in English.

The Busan campus students receive a German Master’s degree in Chemical and Bioengineering that is equivalent to the one given out by the main campus.

“For students at the FAU Erlangen-Nuremberg it is a good opportunity to study here, because we can even take the same lectures and courses here in Korea,” said Max Braun, a student of FAU Erlangen who came to Busan to write his master’s thesis.

“But I also get to know the country and people in Korea. One can also spread his network a little further, what becomes more important in our more and more globalized and connected world we live in today.”

By Park Han-na (hnpark@heraldcorp.com)

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