As we enter 2024, reflecting on ATHENA’s journey and assessing our achievements is important. To encapsulate the vibrancy of ATHENA’s progress, here is an overview of the key highlights from 2023.
ATHENA in numbers
Let’s talk numbers – in 2023, 9 ATHENA members organised 17 Blended Intensive Programmes (BIPs) for students, 3 winter and 7 / 14 Summer/Winter Schools (majority in BIP format), 2 International Staff Weeks, 2 BIPs for staff, and 15 Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) sessions. Over 1000 ATHENA students participated in the BIPs and COILs! Additionally, there were 17 job shadowing opportunities throughout the Alliance.
ATHENA for students
This year, ATHENA students enjoyed abundant opportunities to learn and connect through various BIPs, winter and summer schools. Over 200 students from 38 countries attended the super ATHENA Advanced Data Technologies summer school!ATHENA course catalogue which is instrumental in disseminating information on courses offered in English, available Master’s degrees, and doctoral schools that are accessible within the Alliance. Collaboration among the students of the alliance resulted in the bottom-up establishment of the ESN ATHENA (Erasmus Student Network), and ESN ATHENA student summit at UMCS in May 2023 facilitated sharing the experience with other university alliances, ESU (European Student Union) and ESN International.
ATHENA students actively participated in diverse summer and winter schools, covering topics such as video and audio production, engineering, product design, sustainability, logistics, management, renewable energy, digital environmental geosciences, and more. Students were also invited to submit papers on research theses and best practices for the ATHENA Research Book, Volume 2.0. which has been downloaded 937 times since its release in August 2023! ATHENA also emphasised and highlighted the best practices of undergraduate students participating in research projects.
In 2023, ATHENA student representatives also participated in the European Student Assembly 2023 in Strasbourg, where students had the opportunity to engage in ten different panels and work on 6 to 10 policy recommendations regarding a specific topic. Another highlight was ESN ATHENA’s participation at the 1st Conference for Student Representatives in European University Alliances in Coimbra, Portugal.
ATHENA, initiated by the Hellenic Mediterranean University in Greece, also organised five roundtable discussions for Erasmus+ Days.Furthermore, the PhD Summer School was a significant gathering, uniting young researchers from 20 countries. Participants honed their leadership skills, engaged in discussions about the latest scientific developments, exchanged knowledge and ideas, and forged valuable connections that promise to greatly benefit their scientific careers.
November 2023 was all about students’ professional careers for ATHENA. ATHENA provided students with a month full of opportunities to prepare for working life and boost employability during the ATHENA Career Days 2023.
ATHENA students were invited to the new Erasmus Mundus Master’s program EMINENT (European Master on Embedded Intelligence Nanosystems Engineering), which is now open for applications. Four ATHENA universities—the University of Siegen, the Hellenic Mediterranean University, the University of Orléans, and VILNIUS TECH—collaborate in this joint degree program along with the New University of Lisbon (Portugal).
ATHENA for university staff
Throughout 2023, ATHENA consistently engaged audiences with its ongoing ATHENA Talks, which attracted 8,500 views on YouTube, notably introducing the ATHENA Alumni Talks. In these sessions, alumni explore a variety of topics spanning science, technology, and industry.
Spring 2023 heralded exciting news for sports enthusiasts as the much-anticipated ATHENA sporting event, ATHENATHON, made its return and inspired the ATHENA community to walk, run and ride almost 32,000 kilometres!
The Erasmus+ blended intensive programme, ‘FutureFit Learning Gym,’ was also a highlight. This innovative program, aimed at both academic and non-academic staff, focuses on personal and professional well-being. It revolves around the development and enhancement of skills in five key ‘FutureFit’ areas: Design Thinking, Virtual Collaboration, Cultural Adaptability, Connectedness, and Change Resilience.
Furthermore, the PhD Summer School was a significant gathering, uniting young researchers from 20 countries. Participants honed their leadership skills, engaged in discussions about the latest scientific developments, exchanged knowledge and ideas, and forged valuable connections that promise to greatly benefit their scientific careers.
The ‘Co-Creation Hub‘ advanced with its second successful meeting in Porto, fostering collaborative innovation among various disciplines. Additionally, a collaborative Erasmus Mundus Master’s programme by four ATHENA partner universities has been approved for funding, marking a significant step in international education
ATHENA for Industry & SocietyIn a significant display of innovation, ATHENA, along with the University of Siegen, showcased their latest advancements at the Hannover Messe. Six ATHENA partner universities travelled to Hannover to present various exhibits in the fields of IoT, robotics, and smart sensing. Additionally, they introduced ATHENA to visitors and international industry representatives.
A vital meeting in Vilnius, focusing on international cooperation opportunities between universities and industry, sparked productive discussions among ATHENA members. Participants from 10 ATHENA and partner universities reviewed existing initiatives and planned new activities for the upcoming academic year, enriching their experience with numerous campus and company tours.
Further exploration into the industry of Rome and the Lazio region has opened new avenues for research and partnership. ATHENA members and industry partners engaged in various discussions, with three local companies showcasing their initiatives that are performed in synergy with academia.
The ATHENA Technology Forum was another highlight, featuring inspiring presentations and discussions that underscored the alliance’s commitment to technological progress. The forum attracted 118 attendees and focused on main topics such as nutrition, Industry 4.0, and university networking.
ATHENA has also highlighted the significant topic of Citizen Science, emphasising how ordinary residents help solve unexplored problems in diverse fields ranging from biology and computer science to statistics and astronomy.
Last but not least, in 2023, it was calculated that over five years, ATHENA partner universities have collectively been granted over 350 patents, demonstrating a robust culture of innovation and research.
ATHENA Growth and ProgressIn 2023 Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute (Ukraine), Lviv Polytechnic National University (Ukraine), and Carinthia University of Applied Sciences (Austria) joined ATHENA as associate partners. This enlargement provided not only full access to ATHENA’s activities but also increased engagement, value, and visibility of the EUI initiative for new beneficiaries.
The ATHENA Alliance continues to expand its global reach. In 2023, ATHENA began collaborating with international partners on the ABC – Africa BlendEd Core project. This initiative involves prestigious institutions such as the Polytechnic Institute of Porto, Hellenic Mediterranean University, University of Siegen, University of Nigeria, Federal University of Technology Minna, Eduardo Mondlane University, Zambeze University, Makerere University, Soroti University, Odisee, and the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture.On December 4, our new Erasmus Mundus Master’s programme EMINENT was successfully accredited according to the European Approach to Quality Assurance for Joint Degree Programmes. This makes EMINENT our first study course awarding a joint degree. The programme is open for applications until March 1st and we can’t wait to welcome the first cohort of students in Autum 2024!
The project’s mission is to foster cross-border collaboration among students, transcending disciplines and nations. It aims to create impactful projects that significantly benefit local communities.ATHENA also participated in the 2nd Forum of European University Alliances which took place on the 14th and 15th of September in Barcelona, Spain. During 2023 ATHENA partner universities held meetings in Rome (Italy) and Siegen (Germany) to create a strategy for ATHENA to move forward. In 2024 ATHENA will continue pursuing its mission towards further developing the European University initiative, fostering cross-border collaboration and creating value for the students, academia, industry and society.