Internships of Ciência Viva in Laboratories: “Creating Future” for 23 years
12th July 2019
“My dream is to become an Engineer. In a few years, I hope I have invented a product that is a great success. I hope it reaches everyone and helps many people in the health area or with daily problems”. Tiago Teixeira is 16 years old, he’s from Aveiro and for the first time, he will attend an internship under the Ciência Viva in Laboratories programme. There is no mistaking in the enthusiasm in his voice. Expectations are high and the desire to learn is enormous: "I hope this experience will bring me more knowledge and helps me understand what my future life at university and even at work will be”.
Tiago is one of the four secondary school children who will participate in the internship “How will Artificial Intelligence be in 2030?”, at INESC TEC. "They are few but they represent a big change," ensures Rosalia Vargas, President of Ciência Viva. "This is what we have been working on for the past 23 years, with the scientific institutions from all over the country. We’ve been working with INESC TEC for more than a decade and this year we had an increased challenge: having internships that promote literacy in young people in the field of artificial intelligence, data science and machine learning in all knowledge fields”.
Since 1997, the programme Ciência Viva in Laboratories - Science for Young People in the Holidays (OCJF) has involved more than 16,000 students who have attended scientific internships in laboratories from all over the country. By the time the Minister for Science, Manuel Heitor, visits INESC TEC's internships on Tuesday, nearly 200 internships will have taken place across the country, covering 611 students. But there are many more internships happening until 6 September and in areas as diverse as robotics, amplification of DNA sequences, 3D printing, drone building and renewable energies.
Participating in this programme is an experience that shapes the future of the "trainees", whether it will be related to science or not. 24-Year-old Inês Luzio, currently a teacher at the Conservatory of Music of Coimbra, plays euphonium and seven years ago participated in the internship “Discovering my entrepreneurial side”, promoted by INESC TEC. "Only now have I understood how important this internship was for me," she said surprised. "Music is a highly entrepreneurial activity. I learned concepts at that internship that I'm currently applying today, such as the SWOT analysis, financial procedures and project development. What I am doing today is not directly related to the internship but it was certainly extremely helpful”.
This year's edition of Ciência Viva in Laboratories has over 300 internships in 68 institutions and will reach about 1,050 students from the 9th to 12th grades. Some are already true veterans. "This will be my third internship," says Renata Lei. At the age of 18, she has no doubts: "Instead of just going to the beach and going out at night with my friends, I get to work for a week, which is not that tough. It's a different experience and if you don't like it, it'll all be over in a week. You don't have to do several internships like I did!”. While giggling, the young girl advices: "Don't be afraid to register in the programme, you'll see it's worth it. In high school, we are always thinking about college and this is an opportunity to know the environment and to be a little more involved".
But Renata is not a unique case in Aveiro. José Sarilho is 27 years old, is responsible for the energy management of the Navigator pulp mill and in his student curriculum he has written the participation in several projects of Ciência Viva, during the primary and secondary education, and the attendance of two scientific internships in the laboratory. He is a true record holder! Looking back at 2010, what struck me the most was that I realised the role Portugal played in the international research. Even then we were informed, aware and at the same level compared to what other European institutes did”. I would like to leave a message to all undecided young people: "The internships of Ciência Viva are important for opening new horizons and knowing the world!".
This year, INESC TEC has addressed the challenge of Ciência Viva and debuts the “How will Artificial Intelligence be in 2030?” internship on Monday, 15 July, at the brand new Industry and Innovation Lab. At the end of the week, and after going through a number of workshops specialising in artificial intelligence, image and voice recognition, and after some outside visits, the four youngsters between 15 and 18 will present a project with a major impact on artificial intelligence in 2030.
Carmen Silva could not be happier: "I like a lot of things, from law to research and technology. Everything attracts me! It was complicated to choose just one internship because there were several and very interesting ones. However, artificial intelligence will be an area that will greatly evolve in the future and open new horizons”. On the opposite side is the "youngest child" of the group, Rúben Leal. With only 15 years old, he's peremptory: "I already know what I want to pursue, biomedical engineering is my first choice”. The internship will work as an initiation to the future that awaits him. "We will soon be finishing high school. At this stage, it is very important to be in contact with the scientific community”.
With national coverage, the programme Ciência Viva in Laboratories - Science for Young People in the Holidays (OCJF) is a unique opportunity for students to have a direct contact with research work in laboratories and scientific institutions. In addition to applying their knowledge, they will learn new areas and perhaps discover what they want to do in the future.
This is what happened almost 10 years ago with Pedro Sá. "I did three very different internships with Ciência Viva. The goal was to have a more immersive experience in academic institutions and help me understand what I wanted to do”. Despite his academic career in technology, Pedro attended the “Discovering my entrepreneurial side” internship and at the age of 24 he works at the startup James Finance. “Curious, isn’t it? When I was at INESC TEC, the entrepreneurship was exploding and I thought it was a good opportunity to understand the phenomenon. Who would have thought!”.
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