School interview: UIST Macedonia

by C:F Team on 6th May, 2010 at 9:59 AM CEST

In preparation for the upcoming Challenge:Future Summit in Bled, Challenge:Future invited the most successful schools to answer a few questions about their activities related to sustainability, innovation and future challenges.

We'd like to continue this series of interview with University for Information Science and Technology (UIST) in Ohrid, Macedonia. UIST is among the top 20 most successful schools in this year's C:F competition and has been very supportive of their students' involvement with C:F. Several students and staff representatives from UIST will be also attending the C:F Summit, so let's get to know this young and forward thinking institution a bit better!


How is sustainability and concern regarding our common future integrated in your school programme and activities?

"Ecology and sustainable development are central issues of the 21st century: troubles like climate change, potable water access, or the retreat of glaciers already affect and will increasingly affect human life. The University for Information Science and Technology "St Paul the Apostle" (UIST) is a newly established Macedonian university (we started in September 2009) located by the famous lake of Ohrid which is protected by UNESCO. As a young university, taking into account these crucial issues is a duty. UIST future campus has been designed according to green solutions. Its footprint will be carbon-neutral (for example: water will be heated by solar panels and the use of combustion engines will be prohibited on the campus).

UIST students follow scientific studies, focused on information science and technology. The university proposes five faculties (Computer Science and Engineering; Communication Networks and Security; Information Systems, Visualization, Multimedia and Animation; Machine Intelligence and Robotics; and Information Theory and Analysis). Most of the courses will give to UIST students the tools to treat various problems such as energy consumption optimization or climate simulations. Our students also follow minor electives (for example: economics, marketing, political science) in which sustainability and environment can also been introduced."

What is your school doing to become an innovation leader?

"The fact that UIST is located in Ohrid is not a hazard. The first European University, St Kliment Ohridiski, was located there, more than 1000 years ago. Its students were then moving across Europe to share their knowledge. UIST follows its ancient footsteps while modernizing education in Macedonia. Indeed, UIST is a prototype in the Macedonian education system. Contrary to the other state universities, it does not aim at teaching to masses. Each year, only excellent students are selected and work to become highly qualified IT technicians or creative and innovative engineers and researchers, and/or to obtain an expertise in information science and technologies for pursuing advanced studies in international graduate schools.

Almost all the professors come from foreign countries (e.g., this year: United States, South Africa, Philippines, India, England, and France), while assistants and administration staff are Macedonian. The official language of the University is English. One of the main differences with other Macedonian state universities is that UIST students are on the same level as their professors. This means that they can contact and meet professors, even during week-ends or evenings.

UIST also encourages its students to participate in national and international innovative contests and gives them all they need to succeed. For example, one of UIST teams in Challenge:Future hosted its project on the university's server. Indeed, participating to scientific contests is really helpful for students since they will learn new material, will propose bright and new ideas, will explain them, will have to deal with deadlines, and finally will acquire some autonomy.

About research activities, since UIST is young, there is not yet any laboratory. But each professor is recognized by his community (e.g. networks, signal processing, nuclear physics) for his scientific production and aims at collaborating with his colleagues in order to create multidisciplinary teams."

How will an increasingly connected world Influence your school in coming years? What will be the biggest challenges for your school?

"This increase of connections is the starting point of the creation of UIST, as this university only focuses on information science and technologies. Indeed, the 20th century was the century of Electronics with e.g. the incredible development of computers. The 21st will be the one of information: Internet democratization and Web 2.0 provided a huge mass of data to treat and new problems to solve. For example, data compression (with the arrival of 3D videos) and network speed optimization for sharing data, semantic web search engine designing are already crucial questions which interest scientists. Moreover, with Web 2.0 appears some polemics about digital preservation, which is an open problem for lawyers and philosophers. Thanks to their eclectic under-graduate (and in the future, graduate and post-graduate) studies, UIST students will work in solving these problems.

As an effect of globalization and ranking, universities tend to merge in clusters, or to collaborate together. UIST follows the same process and is e.g. a partner of the Italian Polytecnico de Bari. The University also satisfies the Bologna accords, so that its students can study in any European university. UIST lastly has some privileged contacts with some national and international worldwide-leading IT companies and is of course always interested in new collaborations with public institutions and private companies.

For the next years, the biggest challenge of the University will consist in growing up and in enforcing its situation, so as it will be more and more attractive in Macedonia and abroad."

In which direction should the development of Challenge:Future global innovation competition and Challenge:Future Summit go as a youth think tank?

"In the history of Science, there are many examples showing that scientists do not discuss enough, and sometimes discover another time what their colleagues from other scientific communities did several years before. Moreover, there are also many examples when philosophers and lawyers discussed about the enhancement provided by technology for human, many time after the apparition of this technology and its massive spread. Some really rare scientific programs integrate such people to help to the elaboration of new technologies. A think tank like Challenge:Future should consolidate connections between people from different communities. It started with this first successful year but mixity should increase in the future."

Challenge:Future would like to thank Matthieu Puigt for providing these answers on behalf of UIST.

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Zhikica Pagovski

Zhikica Pagovski | Action team | CF Chapters

nice interview!!! bravo for the university! btw, i love ohrid, everybody should go there!

6th May, 2010 @ 10:24 AM CEST

Krste Kostoski

Krste Kostoski | CF Chapters

I hope we can organize one future C:F conferences in Ohrid. :)

7th May, 2010 @ 10:57 AM CEST

Alja Sulčič

Alja Sulčič

From what I've heard about your uni, you'd be a great candidate for that, Krste! :)

7th May, 2010 @ 4:51 PM CEST

Sayanee Basu

Sayanee Basu | Action team | CF Chapters

Amazing to see such initiatives from a new University! I wanna visit Macedonia already :)

8th May, 2010 @ 7:17 AM CEST

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