NEREUS organized on 7th of November 2022 the second session on “Education and training in the space sector: new trends, partnerships, and opportunities”. The goal of these infosessions is to present NEREUS associate members involved in the education and training sector, and to enhance partnership and cooperation between them, identifying common goals, opportunities, educational programmes, and areas of interest.
Watch the full webinar here:
(presentations can be downloaded in the text)
Sharing their individual experience and views, professors and key educational players presented their activities and space studies programmes in a moderated debate. Ms Margarita Chrysaki, NEREUS Communication and Project officer, gave a short presentation on the Network and moderated the discussion.
In the first part of the session, Professor Diofantos G. Hadjimitsis, from Cyprus University of Technology (CUT) and Raffaella Brumana from Politecnico di Milano (POLIMI) discussed the activity of their universities and their expertise.
Professor Hadjimitsis described the areas where the University of Cyprus contributes to the training and development of skills in the space sector such as undergraduate degrees and postgraduate degrees.
Giving an overview of the Department of Civil Engineering and Geomatics, Professor Hadjimitsis highlighted how in less than 14 years of operation, the CUT has occupied high positions in three of the most well-known international ranking lists: Times Higher Education, QS and Shanghai. The Professor described the wide educational offer that the University provides to students. The Department offers in fact two undergraduate Bachelor of Engineering: one in Civil Engineering and one in Surveying Engineering and Geoinformatics as well as two Master’s Degrees in Geoinformatics and Earth Observation and Civil Engineering and Sustainable Design. The Faculty offers students willing to continue their research a Ph.D. programme in Civil Engineering and Geomatics (the deadline for applications is open until Friday 25th of November 2022- see in the presentation). Professor Hadjimitsis then presented the Horizon 2020 project Excelsior, with the goal to upgrade the existing Remote Sensing &Geo-Environmental Lab ERATOSTHENES and making it become a world-class Digital Innovation Hub (DIH) for EO and Geospatial information; partners interested in the project are invited to contact Professor Hadjimitsis.
Further, Professor Hadjimitsis highlighted that the Cyprus University of Technology “wants to collaborate with more partners, associations, public authorities and bodies in different fields such as agriculture, disaster risk reduction and management, border management, marine and water management and many other fields in programmes such as Interreg, Horizon, ESA and Erasmus“.
Secondly, Professor Raffaella Brumana from Politecnico di Milano, with whom NEREUS has several times collaborated in the framework of the Copernicus4regions, presented the GICARUS LAB, a digital lab with expertise on data acquisition, management, and processing with a focus on the built environment and cultural heritage. Professor Brumana, highlighted that: “when dealing with training is very important to teach not just complexity but also the complexity of merging different data sets, POLIMI introduced in all our courses workshops to give the elementary knowledge of processing satellite data, and to give the student the opportunity to have an idea of the phenomena and integrate them with ground data acquisition that they had the opportunity to collect on-site”.
The field of interest of the Laboratory span from climate change threats like sea rising and flooding to riverbed side threats and land degradation issues. POLIMI is part of Copernicus Academy and recently introduced a PhD course on EO and ground data for the built environment, which is the main core of the department. The department is in fact composed of a mixed expertise of engineers, physicians, and architects.
Professor Brumana highlighted that the common line of all the founded projects is the capability to develop methodologies to obtain digital twins and models of complex scenarios at different scales, redistributing the geospatial information and processing them. This process was carried out to lead users and students better assess these data and their results.
In the second part of the session, the panellists were engaged in a Q&A session with the participants. In reply to the questions: are your programmes and activities offering good matchmaking considering the market need, are your courses structured on what the market asks or the other way around? Professor Hadjimitsis added:” while developing the MS programmes I was constantly in dialogue with stakeholders, industries and companies in the sector, together with the quality assurance team of the Department the courses were developed according to a sustainability study identifying the needs of the market. The main aim of the master’s degree is to identify and meet the need of the market. The MSc degree was in fact revised according to the needs of the market and special programmes were included in EO and Space technologies. The curriculum includes practical assignments developed together with the Excelsior partners, these efforts however are not finished but still developing in the future and the programmes continue evolving together with the market needs”.
In response to the question: “what is the reason behind the increasing interest of students in space?” Professor Brumana outlined that: “Our university is a university where we have engineering courses and architectural courses, we decided to integrate within the architectural studies the engineering tools and competencies. I think that the winning point is that we are merging both technologies and policies. Initially, within architectural studies, we had many difficulties, many believed that space was not related to the career of an architect, but now we know that an architect must be aware of these tools and disciplines to operate. We demonstrate to the student the need and the importance of EO and Space technologies for their profession”.
Next, Mathilde Marcel, from Université Fédérale Toulouse Midi-Pyrénées presented UNIVERSEH initiative. Universeh, European Space University for Earth and Humanities is an alliance of 5 universities from 5 European countries (University of Luxembourg,Luella Teniska University, University of Dusseldorf, AGH University of Science and Technologies, and Université Fédérale Toulouse Midi-Pyrénées). The mission of the initiative is to be the first and most unique comprehensive European University in the space sector worldwide, breaking the barriers between academics and the other sectors. The goal is in fact to be a comprehensive university in the space sector, covering six disciplines: Science& engineering, Economy Business& Finance, Medicine&ealth, Human&Social Science, Art & cultural studies, and innovation & entrepreneurship. Among the achievements of the projects are the creation of a UNIVERSEH community, a Network of students, and one of the stakeholders of which NEREUS is part, being represented in the Advisory Board. Mathilda highlighted how new partners are welcome to join and be part of the community.
Then Ms. Milva Carbonaro, the coordinator of the biggest EU training initiative, EO4GEO, presented the Alliance and what are the benefits to join. NEREUS was one of the consortium partners in the project. The EO4GEO project is now continuing in the form of the EO4GEO Alliance, the main aim is to leverage the results of the project which according to the willingness of the funding bodies, (DG education and culture, DG Employment, and DG DEFIS) had the objective to develop sectorial skills strategies which could be sustainable in the short medium and long term. The Alliance thus developed 5 strategic objectives as main guidelines for the work of the EO4GEO in the future years. EO4GEO coordinator pointed out the key points to bear in mind for the need for such an Alliance such as the possibility to have a concerted and coordinated approach to skills development in the field, without duplication efforts and leveraging on the results already achieved through this initiative. Moreover, the Alliance wants to set up a partnership that could have a say at the EC level making the voice of the downstream sector heard by relevant stakeholders.
In conclusion, within the framework of enhancing cooperation among members, Francesco Casari, NEREUS trainee, presented some interesting opportunities for Universities, students and schools.
The event attracted more than 60 registered participants from NEREUS community and other relevant EU-organisations, Brussels-based regional and national representations, and Member State representatives’ space agencies: associations, companies and research centers.
The next webinar on education/training in the space sector will present the NEREUS members of the University of Padova and the University of Bologna but also international educational stakeholders seeking cooperation with EU! It will take place on the 7th of December 2022 at 10:00-11:00 AM CET. Registrations are open!!