Noteworthy News

Bridges vol. 40, July 2014 / Noteworthy Information 

Austrian Glass for the New World Trade Center  

Austrian company SFL technologies is supplying the glass facade for the new World Trade Center Tower One in New York.

SFL technologies (SFL) has been contracted to supply the glass facade for the new World Trade Center in New York. The glass elements for one of America's famous landmarks should be delivered by November 2014, after which the first tower – World Trade Center Tower One – will be completed.

The blast-resistant facade consists of sophisticated Styrian glass designed with a coating that changes color depending on the viewing angle, in the same way that a rainbow appears when looking through a prism. The elements for the facade will be produced in Austria and be delivered by air to New York in stages.  The World Trade Center One will be the lead structure for the rebuilding of the center. At its completion, it will be the tallest building in the United States. The project is SFL’s largest undertaking to date.

Within the past two decades, SFL has grown from a locksmith business into an international industrial manufacturer. The company works in eight specialized areas, including steel construction, facade construction, plant construction, and mechanical engineering, as well as lighting, energy, and glass technology. Its recent projects include producing and assembling the aluminum and glass façade of the ÖBB Towers at the ÖBB headquarters in Vienna, Austria. SFL currently employs 800 workers in Austria, Hungary, and Romania. 

Sustainability Award

Two federal ministries in Austria were awarded prizes in eight categories. The Vienna University of Technology stood out for its innovation in the field of energy needs and environmental issues with its doctoral program Urbem, the ENUR project for the positive energy office building.

With a First place, and two Third places, the Vienna University of Technology celebrated a great success in the 2014 Sustainability Awards. One of the main prizes, awarded by the Ministry of Science, Research and Economy along with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management, went to the interdisciplinary Ph.D. program "Urbem" (Urban Energy and Mobility System). A jury of five scientists reviewed 82 submissions from 32 universities, polytechnics, and colleges of education.

In this project, the Vienna University of Technology conducted research with strong support from the Wiener Stadtwerke, Austria's largest municipal infrastructure service provider, on ideas for mobility and energy supply for a more sustainable future. Third place awards went to the research project ENUR (energy in urban areas) and the renovation concept for Austria's largest plus-energy office building, which has currently been implemented in the general market. These successes resulted from the long-term research strategy of the program: "Energy and the Environment," one of the five research areas at the Vienna University of Technology.

Professor Rudolf Giffinger and his colleagues from the Department of Spatial Development, Infrastructure and Environmental Planning completed the research project ENUR in 2013. It was awarded a Third place in the Research category. The group researched spatial and settlement development in Austrian cities in the context of sustainable energy supply and planning. Their focus was urban energy demand, energy consumption, energy concepts, energy projects, energy scenarios, and planning instruments.

In the category of "administration and management," TU Vienna won Third place. Their project is currently under construction, preparing to be commercially sold. In the wake of a renovation of Austria's largest energy-plus office buildings, a variety of planning measures were developed that make this building a sustainable model project. Everything from the ventilation and heating to the equipment used in the building, even the draft in the inner building, was carefully covered, replanned, and coordinated.

Three young Innovators from Austria took silver at the world's largest contest for young scientists,

The annual Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF) is the world’s largest international pre-college science competition. This year it was hosted in Los Angeles, US, and provided a forum for more than 1,700 high school students from over 70 countries to showcase independent research and compete for about $5 million in awards in 17 categories. Over seven million students around the world competed to make it to the finals at the 65th Intel International Science and Engineering portion of the fair.

Among the top award winners were Dominik Kovács, Thomas Steinlechner, and Yuki Trippel from Austria, who presented their innovative “Anastomosis Robot Tool (ART)”and won 2nd place in the bioengineering category. The young scientists also received a special award from the China Association for Science and Technology (CAST). ART is a surgical instrument created to aid doctors with bowel surgery (such as cutting out a segment of large bowel affected by cancer). The design came from a preexisting “circular stapler” whose rigid parameters are known to cause longer hospital stays and large scars for patients. The students built a miniature circular stapler that accomplished the same tasks in a more precise manner.

The young scientists came from the Mödling Federal Higher Technical Institute for Educating and Experimenting (Lower Austria) and qualified for their place at Intel ISEF by winning the “Innovative Youth” contest in Austria.

IMBA Director Josef Penninger received this year's Wittgenstein Prize

The geneticist Josef Penninger, scientific director at the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology (IMBA) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, received this year's Wittgenstein Prize of the Austrian Federal Government. With €1.5 million, this is the largest endowed award for scientists in Austria. The geneticist was honored for his scientific achievements in the fields of biomedicine and disease research; his project was chosen from nearly 100 candidates.

The Wittgenstein Prize, awarded by the Austrian Science Fund FWF since 1996, aims to propel Austrian scientists to generate new and insightful research in their fields. The grant focuses on implementing the federal government's Research, Technology and Innovation (RTI) strategy.At 2.88 percent, Austria's R&D spending (as a percentage of GDP) is currently the fifth highest in the EU. The FWF hopes recipients of this award will increase Austria’s scale of innovation as well.

Penninger has headed the IMBA in Austria since 2002 and has been an adjunct professor at the University of Toronto since 2004 as well as a professor of genetics at the University of Vienna. Previous achievements include being a part of a team to establish a system of yeast genetics for stem cells, thus creating a paradigm shift in biology as well as transforming current practices in functional genetics. The Wittgenstein Prize will aid in his future research on haploid stem cells.

Alpbach event in August

This summer, the European Forum Alpbach will meet August 13-29, 2014, to discuss the theme “At the Crossroads.” Participants in the three-week seminar will engage with the course Europe has to set itself in order to be prepared for the future. Key events include 12 symposia and five summer schools. Nearly 700 scholarships are awarded to students. The annual forum will have more than 4,000 participants from over 65 nations traveling to the Tyrolean mountain village of Alpbach, Austria.

The list of 650 2014 speakers includes Nobel Peace Prize Laureate José Manuel Ramos-Horta, EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton (UK), former Director-General of the WTO Pascal Lamy (F), and Professor of Bioinformatics and Computational Biology at Harvard UniversityJohn Quackenbusch (US).

The European Forum Alpbach is an independent non-profit association based in Vienna, Austria. Founded in 1945 as an "International Summer Seminar," it was the earliest international political and intellectual event in post-WWII Europe.