NewsFH Upper Austria, Steyr Campus

25 Female STEM Students From all over the World at the School of Engineering at Wels Campus

More than two weeks of exciting seminars, workshops and group work provide participants not only with cutting-edge knowledge, but also with practical and intercultural experience. The 9th edition of the "International Summer Academy in Engineering for Women" (ISAE4W) took place in Wels this year, with 25 participants from 19 countries (Argentina, Canada, China/Hong Kong, Czech Republic, France, Great Britain, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Montenegro, Peru, Philippines, Spain, Turkey, USA, Vietnam).

The summer academy offers insights into topics such as sustainability, energy, biotechnology, civil engineering, and even food technology and robotics, with the goal of motivating more female students to pursue STEM studies. "Especially in times characterized by climate change and the associated social challenges, it is a particular concern of ours to also get girls and young women excited about the exciting world of technology and natural sciences. A STEM degree offers the perfect basis for solving many current problems," says Dean of the School of Engineering, FH-Prof. Dr. Michael Rabl.

Interdisciplinary content

Above all, the interdisciplinary approach of the program promotes exchange and innovative ideas, know FH-Prof. Dr. Claudia Probst and FH-Prof. Dr. Karin Nachbagauer, scientific coordinators of the summer academy: "Our participants not only come from different countries but also bring different professional backgrounds and experiences with them - thus, above all, they learn from each other and the mandatory interdisciplinary project benefits from novel approaches and solutions." 

For example, the young women explored the dynamics of space vehicles, sustainable product development or the mathematical principles of the golden section on the arrangement of leaves and inflorescences on the Grünbergalm. The program was rounded off with excursions to internationally active companies such as Backaldrin, ANDRITZ Hydro or Rosenbauer and to the Ars Electronica Center, where the young women were offered exclusive tours and presentations.

Of course, the social social programme was not neglected either: Excursions to the Salzkammergut region, a historical guided tour of Wels, and a visit to a cider tavern provided the participants with insights into Austrian history and culture.

It was precisely this mix of academic content, practical project work and intercultural experience that was particularly well received by the participants. Roxana from Iran: "The Summer Academy combined education with fun. Through the insight into different disciplines, I now have some new project ideas for my further studies." Greta from Italy adds, "This programme was a great opportunity to challenge myself and broaden my horizons. I learned how important it is to work in a team and be open-minded."

For many participants, this was their first time abroad, their first time travelling by themselves, and their first time interacting with so many different nationalities. Emily from Canada admits, "I had to go way out of my comfort zone to travel to Austria for the programme - and I can confidently say that I had a great time here at the academy!" Vania from Mexico sums it up for everyone: "The Summer Academy was an incredible experience, because you don't usually get the chance to interact with so many cultures - and I found that each one has something special."

International networking

In a global world, networking and exchange are especially important. "The participants of our Summer Academy develop new ideas together, learn with each other and stay in close contact for years after the event. Often this first international network helps them later throughout their careers," explains Kamilla Trubicki, Head of the International Office at the Wels Campus, "Additionally, our School also benefits from international exchange. Our partner universities are often looking for short intensive programmes for students who cannot spend an entire semester abroad. The Summer Academy thus gives us the opportunity to cooperate with universities that would otherwise be difficult to access - and ultimately our students benefit from this."