Knowledge Factory, likely the largest regional education event, has gathered over 3000 students of all ages, their professors, and some visionaries, in Podgorica, the capital of Montenegro, for two inspiring IT-focused days, September 27 – 28.
The initiative was launched in 2009 in Belgrade, Serbia, by Comtrade, as its flagship contribution to the sharing of knowledge in the region. In the past six years, it has been unfolding at the Donja Gorica University, with the patronage of two ministries of the Government of Montenegro, within the Open Days of Science. Last year’s iteration was part of UN-sponsored Year Of Light 2015, held worldwide.
This year, Knowledge Factory also marks 160 years since the birth of the great inventor Nikola Tesla, now probably the best-known name from this region in the world.
Organized in collaboration with the Nikola Tesla Museum from Belgrade, the commemorative exhibition, entitled “Nikola Tesla – The Man of The Future”, features his most important inventions from the 19th and early 20th century and highlights their application today. The intention was to show to the young visitors how universal his vision and his patents were and inspire them to be bold with their own ideas.
The exhibition links Tesla to the 21 century through a complementary Virtual Reality project, “Experience Tesla”. The latest technology and some innovative programming by Comtrade experts from Belgrade have offered the visitors a unique privilege to “meet” Tesla in his lab in Colorado Springs, in the Niagara Falls power plant and in his room in the New Yorker hotel, where he spent his final days.
“Life and Work of Nikola Tesla” was also among the lectures in Knowledge Factory’s jam-packed agenda. Other topics include – for younger students – staying safe online, recycling computers, making Android applications and Virtual Reality. University students could hear useful guidance on how to become a programmer, start their own business, be a freelancer in the Balkans (and thrive) or how to monetize the new careers on the Internet and the Internet of things.
A selection of topics for educators included how to recognize children who are victims of cyberbullying, a glance into some of the most important scientific discoveries and technological inventions and an overview of the educational system in the field of new media and entertainment industries.
In line with a growing interest in the region for practical education, which prioritizes experience, ideas and initiatives, the speakers’ list included successful entrepreneurs and founders of viable businesses with a global footprint. In the same vein, a competition for the best business idea was organized, entitled “Right Click 2016”. Students had to submit detailed business plans, which were evaluated based on four criteria. The most innovative, most useful for its local community, most feasible and applicable, as well as the best presented proved to be student Ivan Vukićević’s idea. It’s a web portal that facilitates activities of socially conscious teams, bent on solving real problems in their communities.
Other prizewinners – SMS & Web services, portals, apps etc. – may also be slated for production, another strong motivational tool in Knowledge Factory’s toolbox this year.
High-profile hosts and guests welcomed the visitors during the inauguration. Ms. Sonja Vlahović, Montenegrin Science Minister, who opened the event, told the students the primary motivation behind the Knowledge Factory: the wish that all of us should live the future that they will create.
Comtrade’s President, Mr. Veselin Jevrosimović, said that the need for qualified IT experts keeps growing globally and that the world is constantly in need of new visionaries. Citing Comtrade’s recent notable successes – myRyanair booking & travel app, Citrix’ acquisition of a SCOM technology and stewardship of CERN’s vast data exchange – he emphasized that the people behind these achievements were once just aspiring students themselves. The very idea behind the Knowledge Factory, both at the time of its launch and today, he said, has been to boost the development of the entire region.
The host, Donja Gorica University’s Dean, professor Veselin Vukotić, PhD, likened the spirit of the Knowledge Factory to the school’s vision. Both strive to awaken the creativity and passion in individuals and instill the right values in their development and growth.
Since Knowledge Factory was launched eight years ago, it has exposed between fifteen and twenty thousand students to many of the latest trends and information concerning Information Technology.
For more information about the Knowledge Factory project, please visit its website at www.fabrikaznanja.com