Category: News

IGCS Winter School 2019 review

Broadening horizons at the 2019 IGCS Winter School

Hannah was one of the 30 students who was selected to participate in the IGCS Winter School 2019 in Chennai. With this report she gives an insight into the school’s topics and activities as well as a few personal impressions:

I had the great opportunity to participate in the IGCS Winter School Sustainable Waste Management: Municipal Solid Waste and E-waste. The Winter School took place on the IIT Madras campus, a fantastic green space in the heart of Chennai, where we lived and worked for two weeks. Half of the participants were Indian students and the other half was from German Universities. We had various educational backgrounds: besides students from environmental sciences, there were also social and economic sciences, mechanical as well as electrical engineers and other fields represented. This excellent constellation allowed us participants the chance to an intercultural exchange and professional development.

High degree of interaction during lectures and group work

IGCS Winter School gave me an extraordinary possibility to explore new aspects of the waste management system and to overthink a lot our treatment with resources. The classes were divided into two parts: there were a total of 17 lectures which covered various aspects of solid waste management and e-waste in Chennai, India, Germany and from a global point of view. I find waste management systems so relevant that I am thinking about doing my master thesis in that area and within IGCS.

I personally enjoyed the discussions about social aspects of waste management the most. The topic of the lecture was Sociology and Waste Management by Dr. S. Chella Rajan. For me, it is one of the most relevant parts, when we speak about sustainability and – in our case – waste treatment and circular economy. We learned a lot with and from each other in the discussions after lectures and even during lunch breaks. We all felt the high relevance of the topic and the necessity to speak about the different topics and aspects of solid waste management such as social, technological aspects as well as organisation of the waste management system from the governmental side. Some of the lectures were especially enlightening and facilitating a lively discussion way past the lectures. Another very interesting class was given by Prof. K. Kuchta about Recycling of E-waste.

The second part was project work. We expressed our research interests and were divided into six groups accordingly. I personally enjoyed a lot to have several days reserved for our project work. We were able to dive deep into the topic, understand it, work on it and try to identify problems as well as recommendations. Our three supervisors from IIT Madras supervised us and helped us grow together as one team.

I was in a group to analyse the Coastal Solid Waste Management system and to make suggestions for improvement. With support from our supervisors, we went into the city and conducted a survey in different zones of the city, like commercial and residential areas sorting the results after income groups. Furthermore, we compared the type of waste that is collected in the municipal waste bins and waste that we found along the beach. By doing the segregation we found out that the waste from middle compared to high income households is very different, e.g. regarding to the relative amount of e-waste that people produce. By comparing the completely different looking pie charts of the waste from the beach and the waste from the residential area we assumed that waste at the beach must have another origin. To give an example, the beach waste contained a high amount of footwear which we did not find in other types of waste.

The surveys as well as the waste segregation were great team events. While doing the research we had many opportunities to learn about each other’s cultural backgrounds and intercultural collaboration. I enjoyed a lot working with in this intercultural and interdisciplinarygroup and it enriched our group a lot that we had various professional backgrounds. One of the main problems of Chennai’s waste management system is the segregation. The majority of the interviewed people told us, that they are willing to segregate the waste, if there would be a proper municipal segregation system.

Beyond the classroom

All the organizers, supervisor and lectures showed a huge interest to make us see and understand the place and the country where they are living, their culture and the topic they are working on. Apart from teaching a roundtrip in Chennai and a two-day trip to Mahabalipuram and Pondicherry was organized. Both were great possibilities for the whole group to get to know each other and to get to know the beautiful south-eastern Indian countryside, cities, historical and cultural sights. Another rather unintentional cultural highlight was the traffic in Chennai and the surrounding area. During our field trips we were often stuck in traffic. It made me aware how enormous not only Chennai but also many other Indian cities are.

One evening, one of the participants organised a badminton tournament which was a lot of fun for all of us. Apart of that, we spend a lot of time in the Campus juice bar, walking around on the campus and tasting India’s culinary diversity which was one of my cultural highlights. The food was usually vegetarian which seems to be common standard in India or at least on the campus in Chennai. Relating to a topic about waste management it was very interesting to notice that difference in the type of food people consume between Germany and India.

Many of the participants from German universities used the opportunity of the Winter School to explore India after the program. India is a great place to learn how to surf at Tamil Nadus coast, to do hiking in the Himalaya, to do island-hopping on the Andaman-islands, to go further south to Sri Lanka, to see Taj Mahal, Kerala and/or Goa, to relax at one of India’s beautiful beaches and I am quite sure there are missing various things to do and to see on my list.

What I take home from IGCS

Because of the interdisciplinary group at the IGCS Winter School we considered the topic of solid waste management from different angles. As an engineer I realized once again, that technology is only one vehicle to implement a well-working system for solid waste management. There are also aspects to be considered such as living standards or the historical growth of a city. If we want to achieve change, we must bear these aspects in mind, too.

Culturally speaking, I enjoyed it very much to get to know the various personalities and cultural backgrounds of the participantse, to find out about the differences of people from different countries, to sing, to dance and to laugh during our field trips. In my opinion there were many brilliant people amongst the participants regarding their knowledge on waste management but also regarding their skill to help people coming out of their shell.

In conclusion, I would strongly recommend applying for a Winter- or Summer School of IGCS. Another option to join IGCS is by applying for a research stay and an associated scholarship. The Winter School helped me to focus on sustainable aspects for two weeks and learn new aspects. During the school I started to write down many inspiring thoughts on post-it notes. These notes I took back to Germany to contemplate them further at home. I have started this process and look forward to the results

I had the great opportunity to participate in the IGCS Winter School Sustainable Waste Management: Municipal Solid Waste and E-waste in Chennai India in February and March 2019. The Winter School took place on the IIT Madras campus, a fantastic green space in the heart of Chennai, where we lived and worked for two weeks. Half of the participants were Indian students and the other half was from German Universities. We had various educational backgrounds: besides students from environmental sciences, there were also social and economic sciences, mechanical as well as electrical engineers and other fields represented. This excellent constellation allowed us participants the chance to an intercultural exchange and professional development.

IGCS Summer School 2018 review

IGCS students Soumita Banerjee and Sujay Bandyopadhyay published a short summary of this year’s summer school on coastal and river hazards & management strategies which took place in the second half of July 2018. It is an easy read, contains many keynotes on the topic and provides some insights into IGCS activities.  The article was published December 17 2018 on EOS, Earth & Space Science News. Follow this link to read the full article.

Source: Malin Praktiknjo, 2018; Frank-Andreas Weber, 2018; Jorien Van der Wal, 2018.

Enjoy and feel free to share!

Inauguration of IGCS-premises at IIT Madras

November 1, 2017 at IIT Madras in Chennai

On 1st November 2017 the director of IIT Madras, Bhaskar Ramamurthi, and rector of RWTH Aachen University, Ernst Schmachtenberg, celebrated the inauguration of the new IGCS premises in the Bhupat and Jyoti Mehta School of Biosciences. HE Consul General of the Federal Republic of Germany, Achim Fabig, and Dr Akilesh Gupta, Head/Senior Scientist-G, DST, GoI, were chief guests at the function that was followed by a one-day symposium at IC&SR building, Hall 3, IIT Madras. The IGCS team, the Indian and German researchers and students will have an entire floor dedicated to it. The IGCS will now have access to large spaces, new equipment and new furniture that they can use to work with. The aim of the new premise is to have the entire IGCS team under one roof, enabling them to collaborate together to achieve their mutual goals of sustainability.

An important step in further joint research was taken by signing a document on a new project within the framework of the IGCS Research Program on Sustainable Power Engineering financed by Maschinenfabrik Reinhausen.

At the one day symposium on Sustainability: Issues and Challenges Indian and German professors held lectures and discussed the issues at length with the student participants. Prof. Rangan Banerjee, Dept. of Energy Studies, IIT Bombay and Prof. HN Chanakya, Centre for Sustainability, IISc Bangalore started the first technical session. The IGCS was able to invite IGCS alumni such as long term visiting professors Prof Dr Ch. Woiwode, Prof Dr P. Fiener and Dr K. Steger to complement the Indo-German program.

The felicitations that followed the Symposium to Prof R. Azzam were conducted by Prof S. Chella Rajan. Both directors/rectors, all Indian and German Coordinators and Alumni Professors wished Prof Azzam a prosperous time after his retirement.

For further information on the IGCS inauguration please contact:

Prof. Dr. BS Murty | IGCS Centre Coordinator, IIT Madras

Prof. Dr. R. Azzam | IGCS Centre Coordinator, RWTH Aachen University

IGCS Bulletin 19

The IGCS Bulletin Vol. 5 (4) is published. The last month was turbulent. Demonetization (Nov 8th), Honorable Chief Minister Jayalalitha’s demise (Dec 5th), and cyclone Vardah (Dec 12th) are testing the resilience of people in India, Tamil Nadu and Chennai, the latter coping with all three events accumulated. Apart from this, this bulletin demonstrates that the IGCS is as vibrant as ever. We held several workshops, were present at the Cityscapes Conference in New Delhi and UN Habitat III Conference in Quito. An interesting feature is published by Dr. Christoph Woiwode on Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience in the Chennai Metropolitan Region.

IGCS Bulletin 18

The IGCS Bulletin Vol. 5 (3) is out. Read about IGCS´s numerous activites with German and Indian researchers such as the joint Summer School at TU Berlin, GIZ collaboration in the Cities fit for Climate Change-Project. An interesting opinion piece is published by Dr. Avilash Roul, IGCS Senior Scientist on “Ocean Governance: Samudra Manthan 2.0”.

IGCS Bulletin 17

The latest Bulletin is out:  IGCS Bulletin Vol 5. (2). Read about IGCS´s numerous activites with German and Indian researchers such as the Indo-German conference on Sustainability in February, the IGCS Winter School on Biofuels, the Winter School on Air Pollution, the Conference on Air Quality and the Panel on Disaster Management at IIT Madras. IGCS hosts a short term lecturer, Dr. Roos Gerritsen from University of Heidelberg and several students from Kiel University and University of Augsburg. Dr. Mohan Kanda, IGCS Land-Use Area Coordinator, published a book on “Disaster Management in India: Evolution of Institutional Arrangements & Operational Strategies”. An interesting feature is published as well: Co-composting of Septage in Aerated Static Pile by Anu Rachel Thomas, Prof. Ligy Philip and Prof. Dr.-Ing. Martin Kranert.

IGCS Bulletin 16

It gives us great pleasure in publishing the IGCS Bulletin Vol. 5 (1). Read about IGCS´s numerous activites with German and Indian researchers in the Peri-Urban Sustainability Project of IGCS, workshops and guests at IIT Madras. IGCS hosts a new German short term lecturer, Dr. Roos Gerritsen from University of Heidelberg and several students from FU Berlin and Universities of Cologne and Passau. An opinion article is published on The Chennai Flood 2015: Trapped in the Tragedy of the Commons? by Christoph Woiwode, IGCS, IIT Madras. Please find the link for the photo report here.

IGCS Bulletin 15

It gives us great pleasure in publishing the IGCS Bulletin Vol. 4 (4). Read about IGCS’ numerous activites with German and Indian researchers in the Peri-Urban Sustainability Project of IGCS, workshops and foreign guests (German Foreign Office, BayInd Student group) at IIT Madras. IGCS hosts a new German long-term reseacher, Dr. Karl Beelen from Heidelberg an several students from TU Berlin, RWTH Aachen and Bauhaus University Weimar. An interesting commentary is published by Dr. Avilash Roul, IIT Madras, on The Sustainable Development Goals and India´s Sustainability.

IGCS Bulletin 14

It gives us great pleasure in publishing the IGCS Bulletin Vol. 4 (3). Read about IGCS’ numerous activites with German and Indian researchers, workshops at IITM and Summer School in Kiel, Germany. IGCS hosts a new German long-term reseacher, Dr. Viktoria Schiller, from RWTH Aachen. TU Berlin hosts the first Indian IGCS Postdoc, Dr. P. Vasanth from IIT Madras. An interesting commentary is published by Pravin Joshi on “Redefining Technology Dynamics and Education – An Indian Perspective”.

IGCS Bulletin 13

Read about IGCS´ numerous activites with German and Indian researchers, workshops and Winter School in Chennai at IIT Madras in the newly published IGCS Bulletin Vol. 4 (2). An interesting feature is published by Mr Felix Jacobs, Prof. Martin Ziegler, Chair of Geotechnical Engineering, RWTH Aachen University and Prof. K. Rajagopal, Chair of Geotechnical Engineering, RWTH Aachen University, IIT Madras, on Finite Element modelling of the interface behaviour between soil and geogrid in large scale biaxial compression tests.