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Role model

Marija Stipic (ESR 14/ AVL) was member of a rowing crew as an undergraduate and master’s student. Rowing is still her hobby, and this year she participated again in the rowing regatta event that was organized by the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Naval Architecture of the University of Zagreb. But this time she participated as a Marie-Curie Fellow and Marie-Curie Ambassador.  

I wanted to inform the university students about the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions, and to motivate them to pursue research related career. I also wanted to present my research topic.” 

On the 10th of October 2020, eleven Faculties from University of Zagreb, University of Split and University of Slavonski Brod competed in seven different races. Marija participated in the woman’s eighth race with her former faculty rowing crew. The whole crew (8 girls and the coxswain) wore t-shirts with the EDEM logo and the motto “Fuel efficiency”, which is related to the EDEM’s research objectives. A nice way to attract the attention of the audience! 

Approximately 500 young students, freshmen at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Naval Architecture, together with faculty professors, deans and the rector of the University of Zagreb attended the event.  Compared to previous years, the audience was not big, due to restrictions related to the Covid-19 pandemic. Still, it was big enough for a meaningful outreach activity. There were also a few friends and parents of the competitors in the audience. 

After the race, Marija delivered a speech addressing the students. The rest of her crew and a few professors were standing close to her. “Their presence made it considerably easier for me to overcome my fear of public speaking.” 

Marija received a very positive feedback from her audience and was invited to participate in the event as a Marie-Curie Ambassador next year as well. She also received a lot of questions from the students and staff. 

“Since the common practice for conducting a PhD in Croatia is that the PhD student is employed at the faculty as an assistant to their supervisor, the question that was often asked by the students was: how is it possible that you are enrolled to the PhD program in Munich, but you live in Graz? This was not clear to them, because they thought that even PhD students must attend classes. Furthermore, they were interested in how the collaboration between ESRs works, what are our individual tasks, who are other beneficiaries (academic and non-academic) participating in the EDEM project, how to apply for the Marie Curie Fellowship, some of them had never heard of AVL or of computational fluid dynamics, so they wanted to know more about the company and CFD. Mostly professors, but also a few older students, were interested in tools (experimental and computational) we are using, also they wanted to know more about the scientific background of my  project, and how our project and my personal work is influenced by the Covid-19 situation.” 

To implement this activity, Marija had to learn how to write a speech and how to perform in front of a large audience. She enjoyed the development of her communication skills, and her new role among the university staff; she was not a student anymore, she was a colleague, and she was treated like one. But, above all, she enjoyed her presence in the event as a role model. 

“Knowing that I conveyed an inspiring and informative message to the students made me realize that I am in the position to motivate others, and their positive feedback on my speech made me feel special. One of my dearest moments was when a few girls from my team told me that I am really inspiring them and that they would like to follow my path after the graduation.”