The University of Tennessee (UT) in the USA and the Salzburg University of Applied Sciences have been working together for 12 years. The long-term partnership is stimulated, among other things, by a double degree program for the master's degree in wood technology and wood management at the Kuchl campus.
Professor Timothy Young from UT has been an important contact for this partnership from the very first days. He also spent a semester as a Fulbright scholarship holder at the Kuchl campus and recently summarized in a very personal report the enrichment that internationalization means for teachers, researchers and students.
"It has been an amazing success story of highly successful international collaboration for 12 years between two universities!"
(Prof. Timothy Young, University of Tennessee)
My initial visit to Campus Kuchl of FHS (Fachhochschule Salzburg) was in December of 2007 for one week. The University of Tennessee (UT) had hosted a Research intern in summer 2007 (Elisabeth Kastner) from Kuchl and we were so impressed with her work ethic and knowledge-level, that the university funded me to visit Kuchl and explore future collaborations. That was the first time I met Dr. Alexander Petutschnigg, Head of Dep. Forest Products Technology & Timber Construction, and we spent over an hour discussing quantitative teaching and research methods. During my first visit, I gave a seminar at the FHS, met with students and toured local wood processing industries.
During this first visit I interviewed Anton Astner, a student from the FHS and he was offered an internship for the summer of 2008. Anton was a great success story, developing lignin-fractionation hardware, being the first to finish a joint MS degree between UT and the FHS, working later as a H1 Research Scientist and contently pursuing a PhD at UT.
Since 2007, UT has hosted 37 summer research interns from the FHS, graduated eight joint MS degree between UT and the FHS, FHS has hosted three UT research interns, developed an international conference - the PTF BPI 2020 will be the 6th biennial conference - , participated in faculty exchanges, in our second official MOU, developed collaborative publications etc.
I have been teaching courses at FHS-Campus Kuchl since 2011 in introduction to statistics, design of experiments, and process development. I received a Fulbright Scholar award from Austria Fulbright to teach for 4 months at the FHS the winter semester 2013/2014. It was an amazing experience where I lived in Golling, a small village next to Kuchl, and it represented my first time living outside the USA for an extended period of time. There are so many special memories since then. I do cherish hiking in the Austrian Alps, exploring Austria and surrounding countries and I have very much enjoyed so many special memories over good food and drink with my colleagues of the FHS.
The students of FHS Campus Kuchl have always impressed me. They are energetic, enthusiastic, and have strong fundamental educational backgrounds. Even though they say during my lectures that I do not speak the ‘king’s-English,’ we have enjoyed so many educational and learning lessons together. As other teachers have noted, “A good teacher learns much from his/her students.” The joint MS-degree program is a shining example of success across great distances between a land grant American university and a University of Applied Sciences. The University of Tennessee is a system-university that has five campuses across Tennessee where 26,000 students are located at its flagship campus in Knoxville. The mission at UT is teaching, research and outreach (to industry and the community).
In my 12 years of visiting the FHS Campus Kuchl, I have learned so much. The greatest discovery is that “as a people” we are very similar. Even though we have different languages and governments, we all share so many commonalities in helping our families, communities, fostering environmental stewardship, being good hosts to visitors, improving the lives of our citizens, etc. My advice to young people/students is: “Never stop believing, follow your dreams, do not let failure stop you from achieving your dreams, be true to yourself and always take time to enjoy the beauty of the world.”