Auburn bolsters relations with German Technical Institute of Applied Sciences

Published: Apr 10, 2023 2:35 PM

By Joe McAdory

Fostering the spirit of collaborative research and educational programs, Auburn University leadership hosted a delegation from the German Technical University of Applied Sciences at Wurzburg-Schweinfurt (THWS), March 26-31.

Strategic points of business included:

  • Exchange opportunities for professors at each university
  • Student mobility and exchange
  • Collaboration on an artificial intelligence and robotics forum at TWHS this November
  • Cooperative research activities in robotics, artificial intelligence and several other engineering programs
  • Even a dual studies program, where students travel overseas to attend college and work – gaining practical, real-world experiences

THWS President Robert Grebner said the universities “fit well together.”

“We have an excellent opportunity to combine some of our best researchers, particularly in the areas of robotics and artificial intelligence,” he said. “Our work together can be very beneficial for medicine, industry and social science.”

The delegation, comprised of student recruiters, professors and administrators, were given a comprehensive tour of Auburn Engineering’s research laboratories, its various buildings/departments, including meetings with departmental leaders and faculty.

One year after developing the AI@AU initiative, Computer Science and Software Engineering (CSSE) Department Chair Hari Narayanan was eager to combine research efforts with THWS faculty. The department hosted Grebner and other members for an afternoon where the team was briefed about our department’s educational and research programs, with a strategic focus on artificial intelligence and cybersecurity.

“CSSE looks forward to working with THWS’ computer science faculty and AI center on student and faculty exchanges, joint research and educational programs, and joint supervision of graduate research in AI and cybersecurity,” Narayanan said.

Whereas faculty research exchange was a hot topic, Chad Rose, assistant professor in mechanical engineering, has already worked with THWS’ Tobias Kaupp, professor in digital production and robotics, to bring two doctoral students, Fabian Schirmer and Philipp Kranz, to Auburn.

Sushil Bhavnani (professor in mechanical engineering) has been helping us navigate the process and has been providing some invaluable advice/perspective,” said Rose. “Fabian and Philipp are funded on a project from the Bavarian state to develop and validate algorithms for collaborative human-robot assembly/manufacturing tasks. During their six-month stint in Auburn, they'll be in my lab working on some experiments that will complement their activities in Germany and taking some Auburn classes.

“For me, the project is fantastic because Tobias, Philipp, and Fabian are fantastic researchers from a close, but not exact match for the things I do in robotics, so we are both getting some crash courses in the other's areas of research.”

Outside of research, other student exchange programs are available. Senior adviser Ed Lewis, whose roots run deep with the college’s Career Development and Corporate Relations program, explained why introducing Auburn students to studying abroad, where internships or co-ops are involved, is vital.

“There are 90 German companies in Alabama,” said Lewis. “With THWS and President Grebner, we have a relationship that we can send students there for a semester and intern with a German company that has an office in the U.S. Once the students return to Auburn, they continue their education here and intern with that same company in the U.S.

“We want our students to know they have an opportunity to maybe intern or co-op with one of these fine companies. Who knows? They might work for one of them, either in the United States or in Germany, after they graduate.”

Dean Hendrix, associate professor in computer science and software engineering, and director of the global programs for the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, said fostering relationships with universities worldwide elevates Auburn’s profile in the international community and opens doors for Auburn students and faculty.

“Whether it’s student exchange programs, faculty exchange programs, graduate student recruiting, or joint research projects, there are opportunities that would not be possible unless we cultivate and develop these relationships,” he said. “Partnerships such as this are strategically important to our students, faculty, college and university.”

Media Contact: Joe McAdory,, 334.844.3447
Leadership from Auburn Engineering and the Technical University of Applied Sciences at Wurzburg-Schweinfurt discussed collaboration efforts during a week-long summit March 26-31.

Leadership from Auburn Engineering and the Technical University of Applied Sciences at Wurzburg-Schweinfurt discussed collaboration efforts during a week-long summit March 26-31.

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