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Europe meets AalenThe Network of European Geoparks met at Aalen University

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Prof. Dr. Ulrich Holzbaur (pictured right) with his students at the Geopark stand in Aalen’s city hall.

Th, 18. April 2019

Europe meets in Aalen: Geoparks from across Europe met at the conference of the European Geopark Network at Aalen University. At the associated exhibit in the city hall, the university was also able to present its competence in materials research and 3D-printing.

This year’s Conference of the European Geoparks Network (EGN) brought together geologists from all over Europe at Aalen University. Mayor Thilo Rentschler, District Chief Executive Klaus Pavel and District President Wolfgang Reimer recognised the importance of geology for sustainability and for the region. It is an honour for the city to host the conference in Aalen. The speakers also emphasised the connection to explorhino at the open session in the explorhino Science Center. There, the main focus was guiding visitors, the protection of geotopes and the perception of geoparks to the public. The highlight for publicity was the geopark exhibit in the city hall, where Aalen University also presented microscopy, materials research and the 3D-printing of ammonites.

Educational Experience

Besides the colleagues from the geopark, city, district administration, geology groups, university, the student union and explorhino, students were also involved in organising the EGN conference. They were present during the event in catering, setting up and tearing down stands – for many, an educational experience. “Even during the often stressful planning sessions, the team and I are happy that everything went so smoothly. It was a great cooperation with Aalen University and with the Geopark”, says Daniel Steingräber. Dennis Flathau said: “I’m happy to be part of this project and that I could add value to it. The practice-oriented projects are always fun for me, personally – which is also why I chose to study at Aalen University. We can use our acquired knowledge in practice and reach all of our goals”. A hearty thanks goes out to all participants, and especially to Prof. Dr. Uli Holzbaur, who made this project possible. Geopark-director Dr. Siegfried Roth praised the students for their active support in Aalen. “It was invaluable help”.

3D-Printing Fossils

At the Geopark-Festival 2017, successfully 3D-printed ammonites were presented, and were displayed again at the exhibit. A student-led team from the Industrial Engineering degree program had prepared the 3D-printing and presentation, and stood ready to answer questions from visitors. During the evening, the students printed ammonites and gave them out to interested visitors. In this way, visitors were introduced to this technology and value chain of drawing or 3D-scanning to the finished physical product.

Materials Research and Microscopy

Together with another student-led team, Gaby Ketzer-Raichle, lecturer in the area of concentration materialography and scientific colleague in the Institut for Materials Research (IMFAA), prepared information about the topic microscopy, and presented at the EGN in cooperation with the company Zeiss. Thanks to the cooperation, visitors were able to look closely at manufactured thin sections with three microscopes. Visitors analysed metals, meteorites and stones under the microscope, and could even look for diamonds in a suevite found close to Aalen. The initiative awakened the visitors’ interest in the degree programme Materialography and Materials Research, and was a successful presentation of the university’s competence.

At the Institute for Materials Research, members are involved in researching and developing new and improved materials and technology in the field of renewable energy sources and electric mobility. A driving force for this is making lithium-ion batteries and power-magnets stronger, more efficient and longer lasting. Lightweight design is also an important research topic, where researchers are developing high-strength carbon fibre reinforced polymers (CRP), as well as combinations made of CRP and metals.