Lithuanians are friendly, open to people from other countries and cultures and willing to integrate them into their circles, thinks Estonian Stewen Naano, mechatronics master’s student at Kaunas University of Technology (KTU). In his second semester of studies Stewen is already a president of a student club, busy building an innovative bridge project for international BRICO2018 competition, actively collaborating not only with fellow students, but also with business.
At first Stewen was more interested in Mechanical Engineering MSc, intrigued by programme curriculum and research possibilities. However, after visiting KTU in summer 2017 and getting introduced to mechatronics studies, he changed his mind.
“I am really pleased with the decision – this specialisation broadens the horizons of engineering a lot for me, hence it is more interesting”, says KTU student from Estonia.
He is impressed by teaching quality and teachers’ competences, especially those working at KTU Santaka Valley and the Institute of Mechatronics at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Design. The proficiency of teachers and researchers is, according to the student, the strongest side of KTU.
Established a student club
Stewen is convinced that students at KTU can easily access all the necessary equipment for their research and projects: “If you have interest and motivation to work and are willing to put an effort, you will get access to any needed equipment that exists in KTU”.
He is actively seeking for opportunities to apply knowledge and skills through extracurricular activities – aiming to participate in an international engineering competition BRICO2018, which finals will take place in Tallinn in May, Stewen established a student club.
“When you have a student organisation, it’s easier to find sponsors, since then it’s possible to make an official cooperation agreement between enterprise and student club”, says Stewen Naano.
KTU team’s task for the BRICO competition is to design, optimise and build aesthetical, light and efficient bridge model.
“Unique about the whole design is that instead of having bridge sides parallel, we crossed them, so it forms an X as can be seen from top view. This is something that no one have done on BRICO competitions before. We are hoping for slight advantage on esthetical evaluation, as based on our calculations, this kind of design gives our structure a better global stiffness. Obviously there are even more variables on what the end result is dependant and how efficiently this design will work for us in reality, will be made clear during the competition in May”, explains Stewen.
Got sponsorship from Hollister Inc.
As the students could not find all the necessary equipment for building the bridge model inside KTU, it became inevitable to use some services in private companies and this incurred costs. Luckily, during WANTed Career Days in autumn Stewen met Hollister’s representative James G. Freund who was open to discuss various job opportunities in Hollister Inc. with the student. After the fair they met again for an interview.
“At first it was more like a job interview, but after we started discussing extracurricular activities and I mentioned this bridge building competition. Surprisingly James became interested in our activity, so I shared more details on the project and eventually we got to the idea to develop a certain cooperation”, says Stewen.
Hollister Inc. provided financial help so the students could use the latest technology while building their bridge project.
“I believe that this contract has a lot of potential as in the future we even might get the possibility to visit the company’s production plant or organise other educationally valuable events together”, says Stewen Naano.
Currently the student club Aurochs (forming the only team representing Lithuania in BRICO 2018), apart from Stewen has 5 other members: Justinas Šimkus, Gytis Ambrazevičius, Simona Skučaitė, Patrikas Tatarūnas and Laurynas Melieška.
“Metaphorically speaking, if Aurochs is a ship, then I am steering it in the direction of the competition with the help of my crew”, says KTU student.
According to him, student club plays a crucial role in the development of the relationship between business and the university: in addition to supporting students in their activities for international engineering competitions, it can be used to arrange other events or gatherings to share valuable knowledge among future engineers.
Lithuanians are friendly enough
Coming from Estonian countryside, Stewen spent some of his childhood years in Kaunas’ twin city – Tartu, a peaceful university city, very similar to Kaunas.
“I must say, I feel at home in Kaunas. The main difference with Estonia is that in most cases I don’t understand what locals are speaking to each other, but I sort of enjoy it – there’re less distractions, I can calmly concentrate on my thoughts”, says Stewen.
When asked to assess Lithuanian hospitality in a 10-point scale, Stewen rates our friendliness, openness to foreigners and willing to integrate international students into local circles 8/9.
“From my perspective it’s perfect – Lithuanians are not excessively friendly, which could get annoying, but they are friendly enough, as much as needed”, he smiles.
His next endeavour is to go to Poland for one semester in autumn, and after that – to successfully graduate from his master’s.
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