The Academic and Research Department Technical Didactics of Structural Engineering was established in 2013 at the Faculty of Civil Engineering of RWTH Aachen University in order to further technical didactic research and teaching in industrial/technical disciplines for teacher training at vocational schools. In addition, a comparable explicit vocation-specific area is found only at TU Berlin and the University of Hamburg and similarly at Hamburg University of Technology.

With this orientation of the respective professorship, the Faculty for Civil Engineering is meeting the specific challenges in research and teaching in a unique way in the context of teacher training for industrial/technical disciplines at the vocational school. The combination of the excellence in engineering sciences and civil engineering with a professorship for technical didactics focusing on the domain of structural engineering provides structures that address similar exemplary requirements from the expert report for securing teaching personnel at vocational schools in North Rhine-Westphalia. This special profile in the context of structural engineering will be developed further in order to establish a competence center for research and teaching in the respective vocational disciplines.

In accordance with the ordinance on admission for vocational training of North Rhine-Westphalia of 2009 – Lehramtszugangsverordnung NRW – with respect to the study programs, the Bachelor of Science and Master of Education degrees for teaching at vocational schools are offered in the major vocational discipline of structural engineering and the minor vocational disciplines of civil and construction engineering, wood technology and supply engineering. Except for surveying which is in the planning phase and technical informatics, all of the minor vocational disciplines under structural engineering will be offered in Aachen. In North Rhine-Westphalia, only RWTH Aachen University offers study programs in wood technology and construction engineering and surveying in the future.

Teacher training for vocational schools refers to a very heterogeneous field of different educational programs, ranging from vocational training preparation, academic and dual forms of vocational training, and professional and academic degrees to offerings for advanced and continuing education. With this in mind, the Academic and Research Department Technical Didactics of Structural Engineering considers it a core task to prepare students for a complex occupation and an identity as experts for teaching/learning processes within the sphere of the profession. The implicit interrelationship between theory and practice is realized primarily within the format of an internship semester as part of the Master of Education program through the close cooperation with representatives of the centers for teacher training and the vocational schools in the training region.

Current research focus areas include teaching/learning research in industrial/technical domains and curriculum development in the respective educational programs of the vocational school. Particular emphasis will be given to the respective implications in the context of heterogeneity and the development of a profession/vocation-specific inclusive technical didactics. In addition, we are exploring current developments in structural engineering technologies and work processes, especially with regard to aspects such as building information modeling as well as other digitization processes in the context of 4.0 planning/construction and the consequences for vocational training and development.