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Improving students’ STEM skills to boost innovation in Europe

  • The 8th European final of the Sci-Tech Challenge, organised by JA Europe and ExxonMobil, took place on 10 May 2017 in Brussels.
  • This year’s theme was low emissions mobility. The winning team from France was identified during an award ceremony at the Bibliotheque Solvay.
  • The French team developed a highly-innovative approach to reducing CO2 emissions from road transport through the development of a new vehicle – the ‘Norman Car’ – lighter than today's vehicles to optimize fuel consumption, with the ability to store and compress its own CO2 emissions.

[Brussels, 10 May 2017] Year after year, JA Europe and ExxonMobil have been striving to inspire young people to pursue STEM-related studies and careers through the Sci-Tech Challenge initiative. The comprehensive programme offers training, mentoring opportunities and a European challenge encouraging them to use and develop their STEM skills. The Sci-Tech Challenge ultimately aims to help develop a skilled workforce, ready to drive innovation and growth in Europe.

Caroline Jenner, CEO of JA Europe reiterated the significance of such programmes, saying “A growing number of jobs today require STEM skills, even within non-technological positions as companies across the economy do more digital work for instance. The European Commission is finalizing the New Skills Agenda for Europe, stressing the need for greater STEM competences and transversal skills. The Sci-Tech Challenge is part of the answer, empowering and stimulating students in the field of science, mathematics and engineering.”

During the European Online Challenge on 21 March 2017, students from the 7 participating countries (Belgium, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Romania and the UK) were asked to find innovative solutions to greenhouse emissions from passenger cars. The jury, composed of Nikolaas Baeckelmans, VP EU Affairs, ExxonMobil; Francesca Stevens, Director Government Affairs and Business Development, Arconic; Antoine Feral, VP EU Affairs, Rolls-Royce; Christian Egenhofer, Associate Senior research Fellow & Director of Energy Climate House, Centre for European Policy Studies; Giulia Catini, Head of EU office, CNH Industrial Institutional Relations selected the best three teams (Belgium, France and Italy) to come to Brussels to present their proposals in a grand finale.

The 2017 winning team from France was chosen during an award ceremony at the Bibliotheque Solvay. Selected based on a great combination of team spirit, entrepreneurship and scientific knowledge, the team came up with an innovative proposal to optimize car size and weight as well as a solution to capture and store CO2. The CO2 is then periodically collected at fuel stations and allocated to specialist chemical plants for the creation of algae to form biofuels.

Winning team member, Youri Hamon shared his experience: “This was the most incredible experience of my life so far. Thanks to the Sci-Tech Challenge, our team has learned so many different things. It is amazing for us to realise that we can achieve so much at our age. We’ve learned to work as a team, to develop our scientific knowledge, to work in a different way to how we usually do at school. On top of this, being part of the European Challenge enabled us to meet with other students from across Europe sharing the same passion. We can’t thank our teachers enough for all this”.

By having experienced employees participate as role models in the programme, ExxonMobil actively helps students understand the vital importance of STEM skills for a range of exciting professions, which will contribute to spurring innovation and technology development in Europe. Nikolaas Baeckelmans, Vice-President EU Affairs at ExxonMobil, concludes: “This year’s Sci-Tech Challenge focused on the important issue of low emissions mobility. The range of innovate solutions developed by the students from across Europe shows that the creative thinking of the next generation will be a major asset in meeting the continent’s energy challenges”.

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About the Sci-Tech Challenge

For the eighth consecutive year, the Sci-Tech Challenge aims to encourage students, aged 15-18, to consider Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM) oriented careers, raise awareness of the importance of STEM skills and how these can be applied in enterprising ways to tackle the challenges of tomorrow.

The Sci-Tech Challenge currently takes place in seven European countries. It gives close to 5,250 young people in secondary schools the opportunity to participate in the programme each academic year. Over 100 employees from ExxonMobil participate as volunteers. 180 teachers experience the Sci-Tech Challenge each academic year.

About JA Europe

JA Europe is Europe’s largest provider of education programmes for entrepreneurship, work readiness and financial literacy. In 2015 we equipped 3.5 million students in 39 countries with the knowledge, skills and attitude they require to start a business or get a job. JA works with the education and business communities as well as governments to provide young people from primary school to university with experiences that build the skills and competences they will need to succeed in a global economy. JA Europe is the European Regional Operating Centre for JA Worldwide®.

About ExxonMobil

ExxonMobil, the world’s largest publicly traded international oil and gas company, uses technology and innovation to help meet the world’s growing energy needs. ExxonMobil holds an industry-leading inventory of resources and is one of the world’s largest integrated refiners, marketers of petroleum products and chemical manufacturers.

Contact:

Mathilde Poncelet
Policy & Communications, JA Europe
mathilde@jaeurope.org

Roger Salomone
Integrated Advocacy & Communications Adviser
EU Public & Government Affairs,ExxonMobil
roger.salomone@exxonmobil.com

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