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Stone Stories: Geology, Technology and Art

(June 2010) The Torbali-based Technical Vocational School of Higher Education near Izmir has taken up general studies in its curriculum. Courses range from Geotechnical engineering and Petrography to workshop courses on working stone blocks and slabs during the 2-year studies.

But the general studies also encompass the artistic angle of working in stone: here students can learn the ancient art of mosaics – long a traditional technique on the Mediterranean Coast, which has always played an important role in Torbali, and is a focal point of the its stone industry.

Whereas the school’s general emphasis is on commuting a broad knowledge base in combination with state-of-the-art-technology, mosaic courses transmit the art of design with multi-coloured stones, so-called tessera, also in combination with glass.

55 students are accepted to the faculty each year, most between the ages of 19 – 22. „Last year we included 10 older students who wanted to acquire additional knowledge to complement the skills they already had from their daily work“, according to Altug Hasozbek, one of the school’s teachers.

Founded in 1993, one of the distinguishing features of the school’s curriculum is the interaction of practical experience and science. To this end it is integrated in the Dokuz Eylül University, or more precisely: the University’s department of Geotechnical engineering. Hasozbek is a post graduate docent.

For the students, this means that theory from seminars can be transposed into practice immediately – in two six-week internships. The first is absolved in form of a geoscientific field-project e.g.: drilling for ancient archaeological finds and analysis of probes.

The second takes place in a company environment. Students have a free choice in picking their mentors and specialties – possibly an export company or one specializing in mosaics.

The school also has a complete production line at its disposal. Students can thus learn to saw slabs or work them. „In our marble workshop students can also learn the skill of working with a water-jet CNC router“ according to Hasozbek.

Tuition fees are 55 € per semester, which the students pay out of pocket. All other costs are carried by the State. Affiliated companies cooperate e.g. by contributing expert lecturers or commissioning research work in which the students absolve their internships or study projects.

The geotechnical engineering does not only revolve around the marble branch but also touches on such subjects as groundwater or geological composition of the land, subjects for which the school accepts further 100 students a year. Demand is higher than capacity and selection takes place in accordance with the point system already established for Turkish universities.

On top of the marble department there are also studies in ceramics reflecting the rich regional resources of composite elements used for ceramic production. The future envisages a faculty of cement-technology for the school.

Dokuz Eylül Üniversitesi (Turkish)

Altug Hasozbek (Mail)

Photos: Torbalı Meslek Yüksekokulu