Inter-university project strengthens the attractiveness of engineering training in Thuringia

Construction of a low-tech wind turbine in one of TU Ilmenau’s open worksh
Construction of a low-tech wind turbine in one of TU Ilmenau’s open workshops, which enable students to carry out practical work
Thuringia’s universities are taking an important step towards making engineering education in the state even more attractive and sustainable. The cross-university project "Thuringia Teaches and Learns Sustainably" (ThüLeNa) has set itself the goal of anchoring sustainability as a central element in engineering degree courses and thus optimally preparing students for the challenges of a rapidly changing world. The Carl Zeiss Foundation is supporting the project with funding of 2.5 million euros. The funding period extends from April 1, 2024 to December 31, 2027.

Today more than ever, sustainability is a key topic in engineering education. Thuringian universities have made significant progress in the field of sustainability in recent years. Nevertheless, there has so far been a lack of overarching initiatives for the targeted integration of sustainability into engineering degree courses. This is where the ThüLeNa project comes in, utilizing the synergetic profiles and expertise of seven renowned Thuringian universities.

The coordinating university of the project is the Ernst Abbe University of Applied Sciences (EAH) Jena. Together with Bauhaus University Weimar, Erfurt University of Applied Sciences, Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Nordhausen University of Applied Sciences, Schmalkalden University of Applied Sciences and Technische Universität Ilmenau, digital modules on sustainability-related topics are to be developed and integrated into the universities’ teaching. Ideally, these modules should be able to be combined into a cross-university certificate program that offers students an additional qualification in the field of sustainability.

"TU Ilmenau will participate in the ’ThüLeNa’ project with current courses on sustainability topics and develop new courses in coordination with the other project universities. This can be based on research results from the departments," explains Prof. Anja Geigenmüller, Vice President for Teaching and Learning at TU Ilmenau. Furthermore, lecturers are to be supported with needs-based further training to systematically implement the sustainability goals in their teaching - both in terms of the content of the courses and the teaching forms and formats: "Thanks to the project, a ’Sustainability’ certificate that has already been planned internally is to be developed as a joint certificate and enable students to acquire and apply relevant knowledge on the principles and implementation of sustainable developments across universities."

The ThüLeNa project is aimed at both students and lecturers. Low-threshold teaching materials on the topic of sustainability are created and teachers at the participating universities are trained in the field of education for sustainable development. With this comprehensive strategy, the project is helping to make engineering education in Thuringia more attractive in the long term.

"The ThüLeNa project is a pioneering step for Thuringia as an educational location and underlines the commitment of the participating universities to future-oriented, sustainable education. All partners are looking forward to the successful implementation of the project and the associated strengthening of engineering education in the Free State of Thuringia," says project coordinator Frank Pothen from the EAH Jena.

"Engineering can make an important contribution to sustainability through innovation and the efficient use of resources. To ensure that technical developments also satisfy sustainability aspects, we need specialists who have both in-depth specialist knowledge and sustainability skills. That is why we support the anchoring of this topic in all’engineering universities in Thuringia," says Dr. Felix Streiter, Managing Director of the Carl Zeiss Foundation.