Swiss Days with Solar Impulse 2

Solar Impulse 2 aircraftSolar Impulse is an exciting, adventurous idea born in Switzerland, with the development of the world’s first perpetually sustainable solar airplane, capable of flying day and night solely using solar power. Elaborated with high-end components and the latest technologies, Solar Impulse represents Swiss excellence in the field of innovation and technical expertise. Taking the occasion of Solar Impulse 2 round-the-world trip, during the plane’s stay in Nanjing, one of its longest stay station in the world in April 2015, swissnex China had the great pleasure to organized two “Swiss Day” events, respectively on April 29 in the Southeast university and on April 30 under the tent of Si2 aircraft.

 

Swiss Day at Southeast University, Nanjing, Jiangsu, April 29

The Southeast University (also known as Dong Nan University) is one of the most well-known comprehensive universities, which has a very strong academic capacity in Engineering, Energy, Machinery, Environment Science and Material Science that makes it an outstanding position in Jiangsu Province among over 20 local universities,

The promotion of the “Swiss Day” was started from the beginning of April. Big panels of the pilots the plane as well as Swiss higher education could be seen in the campus and posters were exhibited in different lecture buildings. Though the main event started at 10:30 am, students came to line up from the early morning, wishing to get a front seat and to interact with the SI team and Swiss representatives. Extra seats were added and eventually 400 students got opportunity to attend the lecture. The audience was very enthusiastic; in fact, most of it was studying or has studied energy, environment, material & transportation electronic sciences, subjects that have key relations with the Solar Impulse project. A simultaneous live-streaming classroom was opened to other more 300 students who couldn’t enter the main conference hall.

SI Dongnan Uni

Mr. Gregory Blatt, Managing Director of Solar Impulse, explained how they have been making it possible to travel around the world with an airplane that has no fuel and brought the students huge encouragement to try their best to pursue their dreams. “Nothing is impossible” stays along with the Si2 from the very beginning. While Mr. Nektarios Palaskas, the Head of Education and Science Section of Swiss Embassy and also a representative of swissnex China, presented the Swiss Innovation and Higher Education to the students. Students were surprised to know the language talents of Swiss people and they showed strong interest to the diversity of the country during the networking session afterwards. Three Swiss alumni, Ms. Alessandra Volterra, Ms. Laurence Niquille and Mr. Jean Pierre Trang also presented their experience as young students from Swiss universities and stayed till the end to talk with their Chinese peers.

Swiss Day under Solar Impulse Tent at Nanjing Lukou Airport, April 30

Aiming at bringing a fun and interactive event for students to discover Si2 and learn about Switzerland particularly in education & innovation, makers and student teams were invited onto the stage to share their creative projects about drones and clean energy with the two pilots, Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, as well as the audience .

All the guests were fascinated by the creativity and inclusiveness of Switzerland shown in the event: Ms. Anna Mattei gave her opening remarks in Chinese, talking about the relations between China and Switzerland, Mr. Nektarios Palaskas introduced Swiss innovation and education as well as academic exchanges between Switzerland and China, the pilots also learnt some Chinese and the moderator, who himself is very good at Chinese, even made jokes about listing Chinese as the next official language in Switzerland. Meanwhile, a cartoonist was drawing a picture to visualize the innovative spirits of Solar Impulse, Switzerland and Swiss Education, which attracted another big wave of attention from everybody.

More than 500 guests participated in the event, most of which are students from local top universities and high schools, include Nanjing University, Southeast University, Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Nanjing Normal University, Nanjing University of Science and Technology, Nanjing University of Information Science & Technology, Nanjing Agricultural University, Nanjing Foreign Language School and High School Affiliated To Nanjing Normal University. Also, students from the French School of Shanghai and Dulwich School as well as several makers, weibo winners and journalists from the media.

SI tent event

This event has sparked a “Swiss Innovation Fever” in schools. Students from the French School said that they intend to make a small video about Solar Impulse and Innovation, while students from Chinese universities and high schools were deeply impressed by the innovative spirits showed by the Swiss people and the unique education system in Switzerland. They said that, inspired by the event, they were determined to finding more creative solutions to the current problems we are facing today, and they hope to have the opportunities to go to Switzerland, the world leader of innovation, to explore cutting-edge technology and fascinating innovation.

Besides the university related events, the Embassy of Switzerland in China and Consulate General of Switzerland in Shanghai organized a Gala dinner on April 25th under the SI tent. Over 200 VIP guests from the local government, universities and companies were invited to see the plane, talk to the pilots and enjoy the exhibition.

About Swiss Day

After the success of the first Swiss Day of Tongji in May 2012, swissnex China decided to start a “Swiss Day in Chinese Universities” tour from 2014. The purpose is to promote Swiss higher education, research and innovation to the students and faculties from first-class Chinese universities, while providing a platform for Swiss universities, research institutions and organizations to present themselves and the Chinese alumni community of Swiss universities to exchange.

Overall, Swiss Days at Chinese universities proved to be successful events to present Swiss education and universities, attracting many interested and curious students. For 2015, we are planning a few events of this kind with and will attempt to have a higher reach. We would be grateful to receive more updated information from the faculty and professors of Swiss universities and institutions if an opportunity arises to collaborate in China. If you are interested, please contact Ms. Linda LOU, Project Leader Academic Affairs, linda.lou@nullswissnexchina.org.