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Raúl Antón, director of Tecnun, School of Engineering of the University of Navarra

The university does not stop

From home, teachers and students, it is up to us to be responsible and encourage our efforts staff. The University has not stopped. In fact, it is more active than ever. 
Fri, 03 Apr 2020 11:48:00 +0000 Published in Basque Newspaper

This crisis will have serious economic repercussions and great social inequalities. Many are already feeling it. But there are also weeks ahead that will allow us to bring out the best in ourselves. At a time when it is urgent to stop, the University has the obligation to continue, to accompany, producing science, facilitating the training of young people and offering useful and truthful information, which is what society needs.

Classes have followed their natural rhythm. Last Tuesday, March 17 was our first day of teaching distance learning where 63 professors taught 35 subjects at Tecnun. A total of 1,820 minutes of online classes and 21 hours of forum activity. The response from our students and teachers was incredible. The connection of students to the subjects was massive. It was a historic day at our school. Over 1,000 students from Degree and Master's Degree were online, with a combination of optimism and hope. And they continue to do so.

These are also days of much work and of a concern that we share with the students and their families. challenge At a time when the University cannot stop, we are faced with the challenge of continuing to transmit to young people the spirit of service that they must now exercise in their families, together with their own. I think that sometimes life forces you to stop, or to continue in a way that you had not considered before, because there are many things that do not depend on us. But even in the worst crisis, human beings have the ability to come out stronger, to bring out what we had hidden inside. 

I know that there are university students willing to do the shopping for people who do not have the resources to do it themselves. That, in the face of silenced cities, young people have put up posters offering to take care of children altruistically.

Hundreds of teachers from all walks of life are also striving to stay close to their students: sports academy teachers offering online classes to brighten up the quarantine, private language classes going digital, schools, universities and training centers adapting at an astonishing speed. We are trying and we are succeeding. Even if there is still a lot to do and time to keep learning.

Today, more than ever, society is grateful for the work of healthcare workers, of those who produce science, of those who care for, accompany, transport products, clean, or are on display in supermarkets so that the refrigerators are ready. I am glad to see that, in the face of a delicate status , we have engineers at our side looking for technical solutions that can alleviate the lack of hospital ventilators. I am also glad that they are doing so in continuous conversation with experts from other countries, such as Poland, Italy and the United States. Not to mention the opinion and experience of many hospitals in Spain, of course. I am glad that we are interconnected internationally, that technologies are allowing us to do so, and that the goal is to collaborate and to bet on the common good. And I am also comforted to see that the idea that was born in Tecnun engineers has been similar to that of other engineers in other cities around the world. There are many people lending a hand, different groups of engineers, doctors and companies that are joining forces against the clock. "Makers" who are altruistically dedicating their efforts to design models with 3D technologies to alleviate the status. At a complicated time, society is proving to be at agreement.

To all students, in any field and discipline, I would also say that they have the opportunity to leave their mark and demonstrate that, at this time, the elderly and most vulnerable people must be the protagonists. And that they continue as they have been doing up to now, combining their Education with active listening to those they live with. They should take the opportunity to read, reflect - we do have time now - and even write down conversations they have at home. I would also tell them that the university has the responsibility to continue by their side, which it does and will do, so that individualized attention continues to be the main goal .

When everything returns to normal, we will look back and see how we were able to adapt. We will have learned at a dizzying pace many digital tools to which we had not devoted so much time until now. It will serve to improve the teaching that we will offer to students in the future. And we will also have advanced as a society, if we know how to prioritize what is truly important, and if we always put knowledge at the service of society and the common good.

It is essential that universities stand out for knowing how to carry out a research with social impact. We will continue to generate alliances and partnerships with the public and private sectors to identify those challenges of knowledge that concern society in general and provide solutions to improve people's lives.