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Sustainable partnership bears fruit

As part of the transformation partnership between TU Chemnitz and the National School of Engineers of Sfax four researchers do their doctorate at the professorship of Measurement and Sensor Technology

  • They conduct research as a part of the German-Arab Transformation Partnership at the Professorship of Measurement and Sensor Technology: Slim Naifar and Issam Chaour (behind on the left), as well as Sonya Bradai and Bilel Kallel (in front on the left). Photo: Damaris Diener

After the Arab Revolution in 2011, German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) has launched German-Arab transformation partnership with Tunisia and Egypt in order to assist Arab universities in further development of such areas as research and teaching. TU Chemnitz is the only German university that participates in the program in the field of electrical engineering, and provides students, postgraduates and professors the possibility to cooperate with scientists in Chemnitz. National School of Engineers of Sfax is one of the most prestigious universities in the country and has many years of experience in international cooperation, particularly with France and the United States.

The transformation partnership with the National School of Engineers of Sfax (ENIS) was established in March 2012. The head of the professorship of Measurement and Sensor Technology at TU Chemnitz, Prof. Dr. Olfa Kanoun, is a native Tunisian and forms the interface between both universities. The aim of the partnership is to exchange knowledge and skills to strengthen German-Tunisian cooperation and find new ways to link research and industry. Workshops and lecture series will be organized in both countries in order to promote cooperation between the two universities. Moreover, the transformation partnership includes the program `STEP: Start Technological and Entrepreneurial Projects´, with the help of which students can write their diploma theses under the supervision of German and Tunisian lecturers. "In this project, both academic aspects and entrepreneurial ideas are to be considered. Students propose independently a topic for their theses, and see excellent opportunities for a spin-off. Topics are evaluated by a committee, and then students receive support and get a professional advice of the lecturers,” explains Prof. Kanoun. From the partnership has emerged a course of studies called Embedded Systems, that combines the fields of electrical engineering and software, and is offered both at the National School of Engineering of Sfax and TU Chemnitz. "During the study, students can easily take internships, write their theses or even go for entire semester in the partner country, as the course contents are matched,” says Kanoun.

Four doctoral candidates from Tunisia are currently researching in the field of energy generation and supply at the Professorship of Measurement and Sensor Technology. `We are very pleased with the existence of this partnership and an opportunity to host brilliant researchers at our professorship. All four are very ambitious and exceptionally productive´, said Kanoun. One of the four doctoral candidates is Sonya Bradai, who wrote her Master’s thesis at the professorship back in 2013. She developed a system for generating energy by means of vibration for the power supply of freight trains attached to GPS systems. Desiring to deepen her research, the 26-year-old applied for DAAD-Postgraduate Scholarship after finishing her Master’s thesis and won against a large number of competitors. "I am very happy to write my doctorate as a part of the scholarship here at TU Chemnitz. The program is structured according to Cotutelle method, which means that for the first six months I will stay at ENIS in Tunisia and then go for six months to Germany,” says Bradai. This Tunisian has a remarkable career behind: After finishing her degree in Engineering Studies and graduating with honors, she decided to additionally attend an Elite-Dual-Master in Robotics. The US-Tunisian elite course of studies with only 20 seats per 400 applications, Sonya Bradai finished as one of the top three.

Slim Naifar, Bilel Kallel and Issam Chaour are, just like Sonya Bradai, postgraduate students at the professorship of Measurement and Sensor Technology and are a perfect match for this young woman. Slim Naifar and Bilel Kallel have also graduated Elite-Dual-Master at ENIS with honors; Issam Chaour completed his Master`s in Electronics in cooperation with a French university. "All four of us have already sniffed international air, but this Professorship is the best one. We have great colleagues and an international research environment. Opportunity to work in such team is wonderful, and everyone brings different technical pulses. That would work well not everywhere, but thanks to commitment of Prof. Kanoun`s engagement everything goes smoothly here,” said Chaour. Bilel Kallel also wrote his Master’s thesis at the professorship and is now researching about energy transfer from the magnetic field. "I especially like to present my latest results and stir up discussions during the meetings,” said Kallel. Slim Naifar, the fourth member of the team, is particularly impressed by good facilities and technology at TU Chemnitz. "The conditions for my doctoral thesis are optimal at TU Chemnitz, I can exchange my ideas with other researchers and industrial partners and learn a lot,” said Naifar. All four doctoral students agree that the transformation partnership provides a great opportunity and enriches both countries and universities.

For more information, please contact Prof. Dr. Olfa Kanoun, phone +49 371 531-36931, email

(Author: Damaris Diener, Translation: Nataliia Boiko)

Katharina Thehos

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