Theory meets practice

20th Business Practice Forum at Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences

Collaboration between the worlds of science and business are a key strength of universities of applied sciences. To ensure this does not just remain a noble ambition and that students really do benefit from their education, universities need committed professors. At Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences, which specializes in engineering and business, Professor Klaus Gremminger has been promoting practical application in IT since the mid-90s. One of the Steinbeis director’s projects is the “Business Practice Forum,” which took place in late 2011 for the 20th time.

In addition to the event itself, which allowed students to forge contacts directly with companies, the university staged a variety of alternative attractions and student services: A business practice get-together for setting up external projects and a “Theme Track,” – a series of presentations focusing on practical issues. These are just two of many examples. Overall, the aim of the forum is to flood the lecture theater with practical ideas. The theme announced by the deacon, Prof. Dr. Lothar Gmeiner, for the 20th Business Practice Forum was “As much theory as necessary, as much practice as possible.” Gmeiner and the curator, Karl Linder, agreed that business projects and degree papers based on the real world of business are irreplaceable and help create networks, ultimately making it easier to open the door to future careers.

Prof. Klaus Gremminger has been following the demands of “theory meets practice” at the Innovation > Development > Application (IDA) Steinbeis Transfer Center since 1989. As one of around 850 centers in the Steinbeis Network, 20 of which are based at Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences, he and his colleagues actively contribute to the successful sharing of the latest scientific knowledge with local companies. “This dovetailing with practice has a positive impact on the students as well as the professors, as both parties benefit from the practical nature of transfer projects,” explained Prof. Dr. Michael Auer, Chairman of the Steinbeis Foundation, at the event. The shock caused by the cold reality of business can be a and students learn, at an early stage, why theoretical knowledge is of genuine use and how it relates to practice. Professors taste the success of direct transfer and apply “generated knowledge,” specifically in their teaching and in a practical context. Key to this is that as well as generating and sharing knowledge, skills need to be developed, as ultimately these are central to success, i.e., the required efficiencies and sufficient effectiveness. Theory merges well with practice when it’s not enough to know something, but knowledge is successfully applied.

To close the Business Practice Forum there was a panel discussion involving representatives of industry. It was moderated by Prof. Klaus Gremminger and Prof. Holger Vogelsang who fielded a string of questions from avoida captivated audience. What are the ostensible differences in the business context between a graduate with a bachelor’s and a master’s degree? What qualifications will employees be expected to have in the future? What clinches an interview, the degree or the applicant’s personality? The number of questions made it clear that there was little doubting that the forum should take place again. The next business and student forum is scheduled for May.

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