"I was quickly convinced by the idea of Engineers' Day and have been happy to contribute ideas and input as an advisory board member ever since. We are counteracting the shortage of skilled workers with our activities, which in turn is one of the goals of Engineers' Day." (Image above: Sabine Lenz)
Answers from Sabine Lenz, Managing Director & National Secretary of IAESTE Switzerland:
When and in what context did you first hear about Engineers' Day (then Engineers' Day)?
It was in spring 2022, when our board member, Stefan Arquint, who is himself active in the advisory board, approached me about Engineers' Day. He asked me if a cooperation would be interesting for IAESTE Switzerland as well. After having a closer look at the topic, I was quickly convinced of the idea of the Engineers' Day and I am happy to contribute ideas and inputs as a member of the advisory board since then.
Your association is participating in Engineers' Day for the 1st time. Why are you involved in this cause?
IAESTE Switzerland is part of a global exchange organization that arranges internships for students in technical and scientific fields in more than 70 countries worldwide. Thus, our goals are the promotion of young talent and location in the STEM fields. Participation in Engineers' Day and the associated promotion of engineering professions and training is a perfect fit for us. With our activities, we counteract the shortage of skilled workers in these sectors, which in turn is one of the goals of Engineers' Day.
What goal or goals would you highlight as the most important priority in terms of your involvement in Engineers' Day or in everyday life?
Without question, all of the Engineers' Day goals are very important. However, since we are active in the field of student exchange, our primary goal is clearly to promote young talent in the engineering professions by arranging exciting, study-relevant internships that give students equally important insights into the working world and have a lasting positive impact on your career options and personal development.
IAESTE primarily arranges internships in STEM subjects, which are known to have a very high proportion of men. Compared to the statistics about the percentage of female students in the relevant fields of study, we at IAESTE Switzerland have a comparatively high percentage of women to whom we can successfully arrange an internship abroad. The percentage of female participants has been around 40-45% for years (compared to only 20-25% of female students in STEM subjects). So I think we are not badly positioned in pursuing this goal so far.
Why do you think female and male engineers and their achievements are not perceived enough in everyday life and what can female and male engineers do about it?
This is difficult to answer. I think it has a lot to do with the complexity of engineering disciplines and how they are interwoven with our everyday lives, which is usually not very tangible. Many people don't want to or can't deal with this - be it because they lack the curiosity to understand how something works or why it works at all, or the urge to "get to the bottom" of something. If one were to take a closer look, many would better understand where engineers are "involved" everywhere and how important their work is.
If you had one wish to be able to influence the promotion of young talent even more, who would it be and what would it be?
The shortage of skilled workers in the STEM fields and especially engineering in Switzerland is unfortunately sometimes not taken seriously enough, at least that's how it seems to me. Everyone seems to be aware of it, but only a few are actively and sustainably committed to it. Maybe we are just too "blue-eyed" to assess the situation realistically. Sometimes one wonders whether we in Switzerland are not simply "too well off" in general and do not want to deal with "future-threatening" questions at all, since we have always found a way out somehow with the prosperity here in Switzerland up to now.
Do you have another wish in connection with Engineers' Day?
No, no specific wish for Engineers' Day, more the hope that it will take us one step further towards our goals of giving more visibility to the engineering professions and their achievements.
Thank you very much for this interview.
More information about IAESTE Switzerland: www.iaeste.ch