Sunday, 26 May 2024
It is no secret that Spain is in need of attracting talent toward the scientific/technology sector and, in particular, the Aerospace sector. It is for this reason that the business sector focuses its attention on universities, since it is there where the technologists of the future are born, and where we need to start building bridges for a transfer of knowledge from universities toward companies. These bridges are essential in boosting the competitiveness of countries’ economies.
Among the tools that are available to establish a transfer of knowledge between universities and companies, we can mention the Torres Quevedo contracts and the industrial doctorate programs—two good mechanisms that must be strengthened.
On the other hand, as discussed in the previous issue of the ProEspacio magazine, universities both in Spain and in the rest of Europe are struggling to attract students to STEM fields (which stands for “Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics”).
As posited in the “Fostering STEM and Space education among the youth” report in the last issue of the ProEspacio magazine, “During the last few decades, this phenomenon has been evidenced throughout Europe: the interest over STEM sciences dwindles as young people advance in their educational process, as well as in their career path.” In addition to this lack of interest, there is also a gender issue: women stray away from STEM fields at a higher rate and at younger ages.
“This is where the arrival of Pablo Álvarez and Sara García, two excellent professionals trained in two different scientific disciplines, can make our youth dream”
There are a number of different reasons that have led us to this point, but we must do something to revert this limited interest in STEM fields among the youth. To do this, we need to be able to answer two questions: How can we attract the youth toward scientific/technological fields of study? What can we do to make the university-company relationship sufficiently strong and fluid?
Here is where Pablo Álvarez and Sara García come in—two outstanding professionals trained in two different scientific fields who can rekindle the dreams of our youth: Pablo is an Aeronautical Engineer with a Masters’ degree in Aerospace Engineering by the University of Warsaw; Sara holds a Bachelor and Masters’ degree in Biotechnology and a PhD in Molecular Cancer Biology. Even after having passed the admission screening process, they both have a few years ahead of them where they will need to train a myriad of disciplines in order to finally become astronauts.
But while Pablo and Sara train up to fulfill their dream, they can also help fulfill the dreams of a youth that yearns for role models to emulate.
Since last November 23, 2022, when the nominations for the future generation of astronauts became public, the media has focused its attention on Pablo and Sara. The press, radio and television have been covering the prowess of seeing two excellent professionals inducted into the elite group of astronauts of the European Space Agency.
Last December 21, 2022, during the introduction of the future astronauts at the European Space Astronomy Center of the European Space Agency in Madrid, I had the chance to meet them personally. During four hours, we had the opportunity to share their excitement for this new stage that awaits them. We were filled with the joy and excitement that they felt for a dream come true. Now, it is time to spread this to the rest of society and, especially, the youth. We need to seize this occasion and be able to reach young people to enrapture and make them dream with the fields of science and technology. To be able to convey that there is a future out there filled with possibilities and challenges that are yet to be discovered.
Communication in this process is fundamental. Enticing mass media so that new generations become interested in the technology sector and being able to convey our enthusiasm is essential in ensuring that our country does not fall off the “New Space” wagon.
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