“There’s nothing I believe in more strongly than using engineering knowledge for improving people’s lives.”
ScesinGreece is the result of an effort we make to create the first Society of Civil Engineering Students in Greece. Until today, we have organized various engineering events, in which more than 1300 students and young engineers from National Technical University of Athens, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, University of Patras, University of Thessaly and Democritus University of Thrace have participated (http://www.scesgreece.com/events).
The motivation to take this initiative sprang from the difficulties we ourselves face as students:
1. Despite the exceptional scientific quality which characterizes the Greek Universities, engineering students are not provided with an adequate program of indoor and outdoor practical activities so that they can be able to witness themselves the essence of what they are being taught.
2. Engineering is a profession that does not allow one to work in isolation, so the ability to collaborate and contribute effectively in a team environment is highly valued. Nevertheless numerous university instructors insist on individual student work and exclude the teamwork experience from the syllabus assignments.
3. Due to the Greece’s economic crisis, the structural engineering sector has shrunk to 75% during the last 8 years, dramatically increasing the unemployment rate of young engineers.
All things considered, one can reasonably assume that the vast majority of young engineers in Greece believe that leaving our country is the only viable option available. The question is: What can we do to eliminate the “Greek Brain Drain”? How can we improve students’ qualifications and expand their professional network?
Our effort focuses on particular actions. To begin with, it is of utmost importance for the students to visit construction sites in order to develop the non-academic skills they will need to put in use in the working world as well as to create a network of industry contacts who might be able to assist them in their search for employment. We aspire to provide students with the chance to contact directly professional engineers and companies through well-organized events and to keep paving the way for discussions on employment and scientific issues to take place.
Furthermore, SCES supports the development of students’ soft skills. As it is a common knowledge that employers are keen to recruit graduates who are able to cooperate, solve problems and work in teams, skills such as leadership, adaptability, emotional intelligence and public speaking often play a significant role in the global job market nowadays. SCES hosts events that help students and young engineers develop these skills.
What about our future plans? Young engineers should be given incentives to venture into entrepreneurship and have advanced knowledge on the fields of environmental technology, water resources, renewable energy sources, intelligent transportation systems and management. We are planning to acquire our own space, where soft skills seminars, thematic lectures and speeches by Greek and foreign entrepreneurs will be hosted in order to share their own business success stories and inform students about the job opportunities existing in the above-mentioned academic fields. Thus, young engineers could gain inspiration and become more familiar with engineering innovation, applied research and entrepreneurship.