TU Wien and University of Applied Sciences Technikum Wien launch joint doctoral programme

Jakob Calice, Sabine Seidler, Fritz Schmöllebeck, Christoph Neumayer (left to ri
Jakob Calice, Sabine Seidler, Fritz Schmöllebeck, Christoph Neumayer (left to right)

With this pilot project on ’Resilient Embedded Systems’, the two universities are creating an institutional way to provide a joint, high-quality doctorate education and undertake joint research.

TU Wien and the University of Applied Sciences Technikum Wien are launching their first joint doctoral programme in the 2018/19 winter semester:

  • "Resilient Embedded Systems" programme with international teaching staff
  • Educating highly qualified young academics
  • Basic research and application-oriented research generate innovation for Industry 4.0, autonomous driving and critical infrastructure

  • The results of the international programme will also be made available to business and industry and thus enable a direct transfer of technology for Industry 4.0 applications, as well as areas such as autonomous driving, traffic management systems and the digitalisation of critical infrastructure.

    "Innovation is the engine that can drive our society forwards. To find the next generation of scientists that will carry on this continual development, we must look beyond the boundaries of our own institution. Through this pilot project, we want to show how structured access to doctoral studies from the university of applied sciences can be organised. Quality standards are high, so it’s important to identify partners with the appropriate research skills and to find the best students - irrespective of nationality, gender or educational background," explains Sabine Seidler, Rector at TU Wien.

    "In the joint doctoral programme, we have created a high-quality scientific education supported by a university and a technical university. For us, it is confirmation of years of research in embedded systems and is an excellent demonstration of how universities and technical universities can carry out research together on the same level, provided that the framework conditions for long-term R&D work are in place," says Fritz Schmöllebeck, Rector at the University of Applied Sciences Technikum Wien at today’s press conference.

    Objective and scope of the doctoral programme

    ’Resilient Embedded Systems’ belong to the ’Cyber Physical Systems’ field of research, systems that are at the heart of Industry 4.0 applications. The 20 doctoral students will spend the next five years working at TU Wien or the University of Applied Sciences Technikum Wien, depending on their specialisation and where their supervisor is based, and will develop new findings and solutions for Industry 4.0 and other areas of digitalisation through their dissertation work. The results will also be made available to business and industry, thus enabling a direct transfer of technology.

    The graduates will be ideally qualified to lead challenging projects in aerospace, for example, to advise companies or support them in their research divisions, or even to start their own businesses. Naturally, the doctoral programme also prepares students for further work in academia.

    Christoph Neumayer, Secretary General of the Federation of Austrian Industries, considers the programme to be an asset to Austria as a centre of industry and innovation. "Education in Industry 4.0 is hugely important to domestic industry, particularly considering the current shortage of highly qualified MINT (mathematics, informatics, natural sciences and technology) professionals. According to recent figures, 1 in 6 MINT positions could not be filled, which equates to 1900 vacancies in the manufacturing sector. We regard the explicitly international focus of the programme in particular as an important means of attracting talent from around the world. Austria needs talented young scientists and individuals who will drive innovation - in this sense, we are counting on the innovative capacity of the young researchers. The transfer of research results into industry is also important to us," says the Secretary General of the Federation of Austrian Industries. From the perspective of the Federation of Austrian Industries, the programme offers enormous potential to bring together the best of universities and technical universities, the two higher education institutions, in a joint programme and to provide impetus for future cooperation between universities and technical universities.

    Central fields of research

    The cooperation between TU Wien and the University of Applied Sciences Technikum Wien covers the entire research value chain from basic research and application-oriented research through to development with various focal areas.

    The fields of research covered in the doctoral programme include, for example, reliable communication between system components and the development of self-repairing hardware based on asynchronous logic. Other areas of work include security, in particular the protection of security-critical embedded systems against manipulation and hacker attacks. The verification of embedded systems in the area of medical implants is also being examined in a dissertation with the aim of ensuring the greatest possible security for patients.

    "Resilient Embedded Systems" programme with international teaching staff

    In a globalised research environment, the international focus is an important factor. Four to six internationally renowned researchers are invited to participate in the doctoral programme as visiting professors each academic year, selected based on their reputation and their knowledge of the dissertation topics. The teachers come from countries such as Italy, the USA, Belgium, the UK, Brazil, Israel and Australia.

    Of course, the search for the ’best minds’ for the doctoral places is also an international one.
    "Excellence and innovation come about in no small part as a result of the cooperation of strengths and synergies. This is particularly true for top-level research. That’s why the doctoral programme offered by TU Wien and the University of Applied Sciences Technikum Wien serves as a role model for further structured cooperation between universities and technical universities. It’s also in keeping with our principle that the right to award doctorates should remain with the universities, but the technical university’s strengths in applied research can still be taken into account in doctoral studies," summarises Jakob Calice, Secretary General at the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research.
    Entry requirements for the doctoral programme

    The ’Resilient Embedded Systems’ doctoral programme is designed as a four-year appointment at 30 hours per week. Two cohorts of ten PhD students will be accepted, starting in October 2018 and 2019 respectively. Applicants must apply for the doctoral programme in writing. In a multi-stage selection process, the doctoral students will ultimately be selected and confirmed by the Scientific Board following a hearing.

    The first academic year is an introductory phase designed to establish a joint knowledge base. After that, the doctoral students start their research work, supported by courses given by guest lecturers and subject-specific courses. Courses are also offered to provide support in areas such as research and career planning, the philosophy of science and the fundamentals of innovation.

    "The education that PhD students receive at our faculty is of the highest level by international standards, including with respect to the requirements for the academic quality of dissertations and ensuring that this level of quality is maintained. Naturally, these requirements also apply to the new doctoral programme, and so in the first year of this programme we also endeavour, by means of an introductory phase, to teach all our PhD students the fundamental theoretical and subject-specific principles required in this challenging and multi-faceted research area. Irrespective of the institution to which the students belong based on their assigned supervisor, all PhD students follow the same structured curriculum, with some set courses and some courses selected based on the relevant dissertation topic, and the academic assessment of the dissertations also follows the same processes already used within our faculty," explains Professor Andreas Steininger from Embedded Computing Systems at TU Wien.

    TU Wien is Austria’s largest technical and scientific research and educational institution. As a research university, TU Wien sets the highest standards in knowledge communication according to the three-pronged approach of research, training and innovation. What’s more, the university delivers research excellence on an international level. Around 5000 employees, 30,000 students and 2700 graduates each year bring greater clarity to the world, provide impetus for the Austrian economy and serve to bring about progress for society as a whole. By attracting the most creative and innovative minds, right along the academic value chain, TU Wien has been providing stimuli for the generation, advancement and communication of knowledge for the last 200 years.

    About University of Applied Sciences Technikum Wien

    University of Applied Sciences Technikum Wien is Austria’s only purely technical university of applied sciences. It offers 12 bachelor’s and 18 master’s degree programmes, which are available as full-time, part-time and/or distance study programs. There are currently 4400 students at the University of Applied Sciences Technikum Wien, and the university has produced over 11,000 graduates to date. The courses offered are based on a solid scientific foundation and are also practice-oriented. Emphasis is not only placed on providing a high-quality technical education, but also on subjects with a focus on business and personal development. Research and development activities at the University of Applied Sciences Technikum Wien have grown significantly in recent years and currently focus on five areas: Embedded Systems & Cyber-Physical Systems, Renewable Urban Energy Systems, Secure Services, eHealth & Mobility, Tissue Engineering & Molecular Life Science Technologies, and Automation & Robotics.