Then, 15 years ago, yearning for a career change, she left Airbus and the special-purpose equipment manufacturer, Aristo, to return to her alma mater. Initially she was employed as a research associate in the CAD laboratory, "a job, where nobody was afraid of coming into contact with a mother of young children." Her colleagues quickly noticed how good the chemistry was between her and the students. Little by little she was brought into teaching and had the opportunity to conduct her own courses. Ultimately, a sponsored professorship programme saw her attain her doctorate in her mid-40s.
Abulawi has thus seen HAW from all sides: as a student, as a research technician, as a professor, and as a member of the extended university leadership. A career that began in industry is something she has in common with almost all applied science professors. The fact that she now teaches what she was once doing herself is thoroughly advantageous, says Abulawi. "From morning until evening I was desigining and developing as an engineer, and so this is what I prefer to teach. I have an understanding of the discipline, I know what counts. And that is what I want to pass on to my students."
Since 2011, she has been successfully working together with Airbus in the Cabin & Cargo area. This allows her to give her students a number of real engineering design tasks to be completed under her guidance and with the support of an Airbus mentor. The students hold their project presentations at Airbus, too, which is an especially exciting experience for the team, as Abulawi is keen to point out. For the presentation, students have to produce three creative concepts for the chosen design task, and then implement them. The question "how can a dog be taken along in the cabin?", for example, led her students to develop a concept for integrating a dog transport box in two attached catering trolleys. The dog can thus fly on board and doesn't take away any space in the passenger area. Meanwhile, some of the students' ideas have been registered for patents.
For Jutta Abulawi, learning is above all about practical comprehension. In the past, when she wanted to get young girls excited about engineering programmes at Girls Day, she would disassemble domestic appliances with them. And she regularly takes her students on excursions, most recently to the USA to visit companies there - and to cycle across the Golden Gate Bridge together. It is important to Abulawi, she says, that her lecturers are teaching occasions, not assessment occasions - and that anyone who wants to learn can learn.
Original Text: Julia Grosser
Translation: Paul James Compton