More than 150 of Imperial’s Greek alumni and friends met in Athens to hear how Imperial’s research is helping industries such as shipping.
Leaders in business, academia, innovation and entrepreneurship heard a presentation by President Alice Gast on Imperial’s research into shipping and logistics, malnutrition, improving crop yields and antibiotic resistance on Monday evening in the Greek capital.
President Gast presented on how Imperial researchers are working to maximise the benefits of their discoveries to society.
Imperial and partner institutions in Greece publish around 380 research papers every year.
Imperial has more than 200 Greek staff and 5,000 alumni around the world, many of which go on to work in shipping, transport and entrepreneurship.
President Gast explained a project, led by Imperial’s Port Operations Research and Technology Centre, which is using machine learning and big data to forecast the potential impact of disasters on global transportation networks.
President Gast said: “Nowadays there is quite a lot of data to mine on the movement of ships, and it needs artificial intelligence to mine that data to optimise impact.
“Our researchers can look at the impact of port disruptions, such as an earthquake, and see where the issues could be and plan for mitigations.”
The research could also help the industry cope with the imminent emissions cap being introduced to reduce sulphur content in marine fuel oil, which could require ships to move at a slower pace.
President Gast said: “Our researchers are also working on those types of constraints. If you have to reduce speed they can look at what the optimised routes are.”
President Gast also updated alumni on the progress of other leading research at the College.
Professor Gary Frost, who recently presented his research at the World Economic Forum in Davos, is investigating how legumes may have greater health benefits to undernourished children than dairy products, which are currently used.
Professor Gast also spoke about a projects in areas including crop production and antibiotic resistance.
The event was attended by the British Ambassador to Greece, Kate Smith CMG, who met President Gast to discuss Imperial’s growing connections with the country.
Imperial has more than 5,000 Greek alumni around the world. Many are members of the two associations in Greece – Imperial College Alumni Association of Greece and Imperial College Business School Alumni Association of Greece.
Dr Konstantinos Aravossis (Business School MSc Management Science 1987), President of Imperial College Business School Alumni Association of Greece, explained that there are more than 500 people in the association and it provided good networking and help with careers for graduates.
He said: “Business leaders favour Imperial graduates and we have many alumni in crucial positions. We have people in government, politics, academics, banking, shipping and technology.”
Periklis Tsahageas (MEng Computing 1990), Honorary Secretary of Imperial College Alumni Association of Greece, said: “Students who went to Imperial have a better chance of getting jobs because of the current situation in Greece. Excellent teachers and academics is a very good combination. It’s important for alumni to give back, Imperial helped us all in our careers.”
Aimilianos Chalamandaris (Electrical and Electronic Engineering 2001) co-founded Innoetics –who specialise in text to speech technology, and were recently bought by Samsung Electronics.
He explained: “Imperial is good for cultivating entrepreneurs and start-ups and is a very inspiring environment.”
Dimitri Capaitzis is one of Greece’s most senior alumni, having graduated in mechanical engineering in 1955. He was also the first Greek alumnus to go into shipping. He was presented with a small award and said Imperial 'helped his career tremendously’.
Irida Roga (Civil and Environmental Engineering 2007) works in environmental studies. She said that Imperial helped her career massively and she would like to come back to Imperial to do an MSc in sustainable chemical engineering.
Thomas Parissis (Metals and Energy finance 2007) based in Cyprus changed his travel plans in order to make the alumni event. He said: “I participate in every opportunity to give back and it’s always nice to meet new alumni and current students in order to help them."
After leaving Imperial for a scholarship at the University of Illinois, Dr Anthony Zioudas (MSc Advanced Chemical Engineering 1976) left academia for a long career on Wall Street, including at Salomon Brothers and as Vice President and Director at Bear Stearns.
He said: “Imperial is very much admired by the academic community. Its reputation helped me to get a scholarship in America and then go on to work in Wall Street.”
Demos Doumenis (MSc Electrical Engineering 1992) is chief technical officer at Quantimetrica – a company developing voice switch controls.
Demos said: “Imperial was the best years of my life – because you meet people you wouldn’t otherwise. We had fantastic professors who were internationally acclaimed.
“Imperial is even higher in rankings now and going from strength to strength.”
Delphi Economic Forum
Just ahead of the alumni event, President Gast was invited to attend the prestigious Delphi Economic Forum in Athens, where she took part in two expert panels.
The forum engages business, political, academic, and other global leaders to address emerging challenges, influence the national and regional agendas and promote sustainable and socially responsible growth policies for Greece, Europe and the wider Eastern Mediterranean region.
President Gast took part in the expert panel debate titled 'Supporting Entrepreneurship and Innovation'.
President Gast spoke about how entrepreneurial ideas and innovation can benefit society but may not always bring in economic returns.
President Gast said: "Central to success is an entrepreneurial ethos, that's a culture, environment and outlook.
"We're seeing a huge growth in student entrepreneurs, who have great ideas, so Imperial have created forums for them.
"We found there were too few female entrepreneurs entering competitions, so we created a programme for them and they are now going on to win those competitions.
"There is also huge resource in the communities around institutions. We’ve created Makerspaces – which are bringing creative people in.
"Our Hackspace, where tools and lab space are available to test and make prototypes – those facilities outside of fundamental research labs are important. Anyone can pursue an idea and take it into our Hackspaces.
"Most importantly is mentorship, and we are developing a venture mentorship programme, where researchers can benefit from the experience of serial entrepreneurs.
"At our new campus in White City, we’ve opened invention rooms to school students in the neighbourhood, we have maker challenges to pursue ideas and make something.
"That action of making a prototype changes their outlook on life and gives them a new impetus to go back to school and work hard."
President Gast also took part in the panel debate on the future of higher education.
President Gast explained how we look to universities for growth in the economy and employment, as well as for finding new scientists and new leaders.
She said that technology is changing our culture and way of thinking and mechanical learning is becoming more and more important.
She said we should make the most of the technology platforms available and embrace the technology, because human and machine co-operation will remodel the future.
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