In 2002, the setting up of ‘internal TU collaborative, multi-disciplinary research projects’ – TU Collaboration Centres, for short – provided a funding channel that was also intended to support current ‘bottom-up’ development in research. The ‘Multi-Faculty Collaboration Centre’ channel was designed to act as the first level of cross-subject/cross-faculty collaboration among research groups at TU Wien, also including researchers from other universities where relevant, as a springboard for research collaboration projects.
Inter-faculty Collaboration Centres
Traffic is the greatest source of noise problems in Austria and other European conurbations. Past strategies have often been aimed at improving noise protection. In the future, the primary goal must be to thoroughly research and minimise noise generation. There are no significant research facilities in Austria that are tackling this subject from a scientific and multi-disciplinary point of view. The aim of the project is to establish and maintain in the long term an ‘Austrian Research Centre for Traffic Noise’ at TU Wien in collaboration with leading institutes of the Faculties of Civil Engineering, Mechanical Engineering & Business Science, and Electrical Engineering & Information Technology. The Faculty of Civil Engineering is responsible for managing the collaboration.
The Center for Geometry and Computational Design has noted the increasing demand for research and teaching at the interface between technology and design. Research groups from the fields of Geometry, Computer Graphics, Interactive Systems, Mechanics of Materials, Construction Management, 3D Design, Modelling and Digital Architecture are working together on new methods and digital tools for the design process. These should closely link computer-aided modelling of form to function and production, thereby significantly shortening the product development cycle. The fields of application are numerous, extending from industrial design through construction to new digital production methods. Among the activities of the Center, founded in November 2014, is an intensive research programme that forms part of the ‘Computation Design’ doctoral programme.
The CompMat (Computation of Materials) collaboration centre is a platform for joint activities in research and teaching at the interface of two key research areas for TU Wien: Computational Science & Engineering and Materials Science/Industrial Technologies. Computational Materials Science is a research area in which TU Wien has assumed a leading position worldwide. The working groups involved are developing and using computer programs to assess materials and their properties and to design computers, with activities ranging from issues of quantum physics at the nano-scale to the assessment of industrial materials on a macro scale.
The Centre for Computational Complex Systems was founded by five research groups at TU Wien, to carry out development work, exchange information and provide mutual support in the analysis and modelling of complex processes and systems. Thanks to the broad range of its participants, it carries out not only basic and application-related top-level research in the ‘enabling technologies’ but also a direct exchange with application-driven research from a number of core fields at TU Wien, making the Centre a genuine innovation even at an international level.
Specific aims of the Centre include new access to modelling and simulation of complex infrastructure systems in combination with the dynamic and energetic user processes and information processes that arise in smart communities. A second area of focus is the analysis and prognosis of complex decision-making processes and the development of tools to support decision-making. Models relating to many different issues are extended and transferred between research fields to provide support in the field of smart technologies.
Inter-University Collaboration Centres
Technical innovations shaped modern medicine to a significant extent – and more and more medical sub-disciplines are finding themselves enriched, enhanced and improved by technology and engineering science. It was for this reason that an inter-university collaboration centre was founded between TU Wien and the Medical University of Vienna (MedUni Wien) to cover the field of engineering in medicine (the Vienna Center for Engineering in Medicine – ViCEM).
This collaboration centre intends both to expand and to accelerate this valuable process. This creates a requirement on the one hand to carry out research and teaching at a top international level and on the other hand to secure and extend the universities’ leading scientific role in the national context in the fields of engineering and medicine, as a competent partner for public institutions and for business. In putting this into effect, collaboration partners at TU Wien and at the Medical University of Vienna are able to build on years of tried and tested ad hoc collaboration in research at the level of individual working groups. There also exist valuable teaching partnerships, above all as regards the very successful inter-faculty Masters in Biomedical Engineering at TU Wien, which receives significant support from colleagues at the Medical University.
The added value provided by all of this collaboration derives primarily from the complementary expertise of individual research groups, through whose integration outstanding coverage of the applicable topic is achieved. The central aims of ViCEM in particular are now to integrate and network together the above-mentioned ad hoc collaborative working groups for specific topics drawn from TU Wien and the Medical University of Vienna, and to strengthen internal and external awareness of the numerous joint activities of researchers from TU Wien and the Medical University. This will lead to the identification of new issues at the interface between engineering and medicine and hence to the establishment of new points of contact between the two universities. The Collaboration Centre also sees itself as the principal external open crystallisation point for inter-disciplinary approaches for the whole of Vienna (as a reinforcing aspect of the theme ‘Vienna as centre of the life sciences’) and indeed for the whole of Austria (in conjunction with existing successful organisations such as the Austrian Cluster of Tissue Regeneration and the Austrian Association for Biomedical Engineering). This should further secure and strengthen Vienna’s worldwide reputation as a site for science, engineering and medicine.
Partial differential equations are of fundamental importance to many scientific disciplines. Examples include the development of modern aerofoils and the simulation of nano-technological components such as lasers and quantum transistors. In the life sciences, too, differential equations are playing an ever greater role, for example in the modelling of cell dynamics in tissues, the optimisation of escape routes in public buildings and in the pricing of financial derivatives.
In Vienna in recent years, an enormous expertise in the field of partial differential equations has been built up and the intention is to combine, strengthen and deepen this expertise under the auspices of the Center. Additional aims include the establishment of a point of contact for inter-disciplinary research topics and the provision of support for science events.
The activities of the Centre (founded by TU Wien and the Medical University of Vienna) are focused on the development of innovative concepts, new physico-chemical, microbiological and molecular biological methods and numeric models for investigating water quality from the point of view of hygiene. In addition to their relevance to direct use or usability of water by people, these concepts, methods and models also form the basis for the scientific investigation of aquatic systems.
The knowledge thereby obtained is used to develop effective and sustainable management measures relating to type of use (drinking water, bathing water, water for medical purposes etc.). The preventive requirement relating to effects on human health and the associated societal benefit thus bear a direct relationship to the fundamental scientific activities of the research collaboration group.