UPC Romania's Tech School is an award-winning educational platform that helps children aged 11–19 with a passion for technology turn their dreams into reality. Designed to target the shortfall in science, technology, engineering, and math skills, it is the biggest platform of its kind in the country, offering students tutorials, events, mentoring and resources in topics like robotics, programming and astronomy. High school students can submit ideas around how technology can transform everyday life, via the Tech School platform.
Three awards are granted to implement the winning ideas and a further special award is offered to enable a student to attend the Education NASA Center summer camp at Kennedy Space Center. In 2012, over 570 ideas were submitted, 20 of which were shortlisted by a panel of specialists from Stanford University, NASA, the Romanian Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, and Discovery Romania.
The overall winner of Tech School 2012 was Constantin Voiniciuc whose robotics idea was to reinvent the bionic hand with enhanced control and strength. The implications of this for surgery, telemedicine and other remote interventions are wide-ranging, and the grant will help Constantin develop an advanced version of his prototype.
The second place went to Costin Costea who has created a prototype T-shirt that can charge a mobile phone. Costin aims to extend the T-shirt's capabilities to other mobile devices and also reduce the charging time. In doing so, he hopes to lead a global trend in the interaction of technology and clothing. The winning award to attend the NASA summer camp was given to Miriam Buzgau, who came up with the idea of creating a mobile observatory for children in cities that do not have an astronomy observatory.
Overall, the Tech School platform has received over 230,000 visitors since its launch in summer 2012. In recognition of its success, the Tech School was the winner in the Science and Education category at the European Excellence Awards 2012. The program's success demonstrates the potential of digital technologies to create opportunities for young people, both in skills development and in promoting a spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation, vital to thriving economies in the future.