Inspiring younger generations to both study and consider a future career in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) is essential to nurturing the innovation needed to address societies’ key challenges. ExxonMobil is a company built on STEM skills and we’re deeply committed to supporting training and education across these fields.
Part of this commitment is co-hosting the annual Sci-Tech Challenge with JA Europe – Europe’s largest non-profit organisation focused on preparing young people for employment and entrepreneurship. Now in its 13th year, the competition provides a forum for students aged 15-18 to apply their STEM skills to solve an interesting problem.
For the 2022 Sci-Tech Challenge European Finale, students were asked to develop a concept for a circular economy on Mars. The task focused on creating a product or service to manage the waste generated by a potential future colony on the red planet. Teams from six European countries took part – Belgium, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy and the Netherlands – with the 2022 event marking the first time a team from Hungary competed.
The jury, which included representatives from ExxonMobil and JA Europe, were impressed by the students’ ideas, ingenuity and hard work. “Such bright, enthusiastic presentations are amazing,” said Philippe Ducom, president of ExxonMobil Europe. “Students come and address major potential challenges and they come back with great ideas. They come up with ideas that are worth exploring.”
The 2022 winning team was the Space Ducks from the Czech Republic, whose solution was praised by the jury for its innovation, social responsibility, and use of different technologies. Their winning idea involved collecting debris that remains in the orbits around Earth and Mars from previous space missions – reducing orbital debris and making space travel safer.
“It’s about following your ideas,” said Azzurra of the Space Ducks, “and not using the ideas of the past – because there’s a reason they were in the past – and trying to develop ideas for the future.”