Changing the mindset of Bosnia's youth

Engineering students at La Trobe University experienced first-hand the power of innovation & entrepreneurship at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Student and Young Professionals Congress held in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The event aimed to provide the audience with inspirational life stories of individuals who draw their roots from Bosnia and Herzegovina in hopes of uniting divided ethnic groups by focusing attention on things that matter: economic development, technology, leadership and career opportunities.

The congress also served a platform for a regional innovation challenge. Students and their mentors spent 8 weeks innovating, prototyping and finally presenting their creations at the congress.

The ideas were assessed by a panel of international experts which included Sergio Fernandez de Cordova, a serial entrepreneur from New York.

Director of the La Trobe Innovation and Entrepreneurship Foundry (LIEF), Dr Eddie Custovic was born in Bosnia and Herzegovina and believes that the congress can help inspire young students to go on and pursue great careers.

“It has been great to launch something that enables students to be on the same level with world experts. One of the goals of the La Trobe Engineering is to ensure our students graduate with exceptional design, innovation and entrepreneurial attributes,” Dr Custovic said.

“Every year we take some of our best students to international innovation forums to expand their knowledge, showcase their talent and solidify their global citizen status.”

“The experts have praised the students involved and hopefully this will motivate them and push them in the right direction.”

Teodora Raducan and other La Trobe University Engineering students were involved in the collaboration as part of the Ideas to Innovation course run by Dr.Custovic.

“The students in Bosnia and Herzegovina are amazing, very bright and friendly. I was impressed by their broad technical knowledge,” Teodora said.

“They want to innovate and change people’s lives for better. The level of empathy shown is also inspiring, they want to improve the status of their own country. It was really moving.”

Dr. Custovic also launched the Bosnia and Herzegovina Futures Foundation, which aims to help provide education and technology access to talented young engineering students.

The thirteen La Trobe Students were so moved by their experiences that they donated almost $3,000 to the foundation.

“The generosity of La Trobe’s students will go a long way in helping to make a real-life impression on the lives of disadvantaged tertiary students in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” Dr Custovic said.

“I was inspired by the University’s giving campaigns and the students’ generosity to set up the Bosnia & Herzegovina Futures Foundation.”

The La Trobe University Engineering degree is the first in Australia to introduce extensive innovation, entrepreneurship and enterprise attributes at an undergraduate level, essential in meeting current market demands.

The Innovation Congress will run again this December where La Trobe University’s next brightest engineering students will experience the Student and Young Professionals conference in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The congress in Sarajevo has been approved by the IEEE board of directors and the model will be replicated in two other countries with a low GDP in the future.

Dr Custovic will be leading the initiative on behalf of the IEEE and La Trobe University, along with partner Youth Employment Project that is supported by the Swiss Embassy in Bosnia & Herzegovina.

Media Contact: Dylan May – d.may@latrobe.edu.au - 9479 5353 / 0407125909

Photo: Dr Custovic (middle) with La Trobe University students at Pretis - one of the largest manufacturers of ammunititions in South-East Europe.

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