VILNIUS TECH FOR CREATORS OF TOMORROW – Interview with the Vice-rector for strategic partnership, Dr Adas Meškėnas

Good afternoon Dr Meškėnas, thank you for your availability and time.
First of all, can you tell us more about your role within the University and what strategic partnerships entail on a daily basis?

One of the main focuses of my job is dealing with partnerships with a variety of entities that can contribute in  achieving our strategic goals: our targets are ambitious, therefore it’s important to gather all the help we can.

From university associations to businesses, this entails developing bridges with different opportunities that support our vision of the future. Student exchanges, dual and joint degrees, cooperation in research, visiting lecturers, faculty exchanges, cooperation agreements, internships and comprehensive partnerships are some of the outcomes of these relationships. Among these, for instance, we highly value the Erasmus+ programme as a key asset in expanding VILNIUS TECH’s international cooperation efforts.

My responsibilities also include dealing with Alumni relations: one of our 4 moon shots. We have built our strategy around the idea of engaging with the community that develops around VILNIUS TECH, students and professors represent one of the key drivers of this process.
Through being part of VILNIUS TECH’s community they become an invaluable contribution for our society, and we are proud to be a driver of this human capital enrichment process.
As the person overseeing internal and external communications and marketing for the university, my role involves managing a multi-layered organism that spans across various spectrums of audiences. This can be a complex mechanism to handle, as it requires a deep understanding of the diverse needs and interests of the different groups of people we need to engage with.

In order to effectively communicate with these audiences, I need to be aware of the various communication channels available and how to tailor our messaging to each specific group. Whether it’s through traditional media outlets, social media platforms, email marketing, or in-person events, my goal is to ensure that the university’s message is being delivered in a clear and concise manner.

VILNIUS TECH is at the center of one of the largest innovation hubs in Europe – indeed its scientists, students and graduates contribute to a sustainable living environment promoting innovation and expanding the limits of understanding. Can you elaborate more on the concept of “Creators of Tomorrow” and how it came to be?

VILNIUS TECH is an exceptional institution that possesses a wealth of knowledge and expertise, making it a formidable competitor in both the domestic and international arena. The University’s key operational objectives align with its unique identity, which has been honed over several years, and its potential in technical sciences, as well as global trends.

The University has identified several areas of focus that include the digital transformation of society, sustainable development, security and crisis resilience, climate change, and European and national smart specializations. These topics form the basis of the University’s solutions, areas of expertise, and leadership.

In summary, VILNIUS TECH is a renowned center of knowledge and skills, with a clear strategic vision that emphasizes the University’s unique strengths and its ability to address current and future challenges in society. By focusing on these priority areas, VILNIUS TECH is well-positioned to continue its leadership in technical sciences and make a meaningful impact both nationally and internationally.

The concept of “Creators of Tomorrow” refers to the belief that our university serves as a source of inspiration for its students and seeks to cultivate a variety of valuable traits within them. These traits include being civic-minded, responsible, creative, and competitive. By fostering these qualities, VILNIUS TECH hopes to produce individuals who are capable of making a positive impact on the world around them.

Furthermore, VILNIUS TECH seeks to mobilize its diverse university community to work towards the betterment of society. This involves not only advancing the fields of economy, culture, social welfare, and technology but also actively seeking ways to improve the world we live in. By encouraging its students to take an active role in shaping the world around them, VILNIUS TECH aims to create a generation of leaders who are equipped to bring about positive change.

While most students have a clear career trajectory in mind when choosing a University, home or abroad, many others are preoccupied with the professional outcome and the actual hard skills they will gain during their studies. Can you give us some examples of how students at VILNIUS TECH gain actual knowledge to solve real-world problems and set progress in motion?

Students need to understand that education is not separate from business. To help close the gap we made businesses part of rethinking the study programmes. Not just as speakers and lecturers, but operational advisors and designed entire programs based on what skills the present, and the future, needs from a graduate. 

The university provides students with the opportunity to take control of their learning journey by enabling them to actively seek out career-related resources. By participating in this search for relevant content, students are empowered to develop a more well-rounded educational experience that can better equip them for their future career goals. Essentially, the university is encouraging students to be proactive in shaping their own education by providing access to resources that can help them explore and pursue their desired career paths.

The educational philosophy at our institution is centered around problem-based learning, which allows students to immerse themselves in the material and truly thrive. Our approach is interdisciplinary, covering a wide range of subject matter from A to Z, in order to equip students with practical skills that they can apply to their chosen profession. We are committed to providing students with genuine takeaways that they can use in their day-to-day work.

Our program places a strong emphasis on staying up-to-date with the most innovative sectors, such as energy and IT, ICT, FinTech. We believe that it is essential for our students to have close contact with these sectors so that they can develop a deep understanding of the latest developments and emerging trends. For example, the FinTech sector is currently thriving in our country. Lithuania’s capital city Vilnius is home to Europe’s largest FinTech hub,  which means there are plenty of opportunities for students, who are looking for a career in the field after their studies and we are proud to be developing talented individuals who are well-equipped to work in this field. Students learn how to use the latest technologies and tools, such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, blockchain technology, and big data, to develop innovative products and services that meet the needs of the industry. 

At VILNIUS TECH, we are committed to helping our students not only learn and understand their chosen subject matter, but also to apply what they have learned in a practical setting. By providing them with the tools and knowledge they need to succeed, we are confident that our graduates will make valuable contributions to their chosen profession and help drive innovation and progress in their respective fields.

It seems that at VILNIUS TECH students are encouraged to explore their interests and ideas beyond the classroom: can you tell us more about the “LinkMenų fabrikas” laboratories?

LinkMenų fabrikas is a home for creators, offering a space where like-minded individuals can come together to create and exchange ideas. Whether through collaboration on projects or over a casual cup of coffee, this environment promotes the sharing of knowledge and the exploration of new concepts. With a focus on building a supportive community of creators, individuals are encouraged to express their creativity and work towards their goals with the help of those around them. This hub is closely  linked to our values of creativity, innovation, connection, sustainability and openness. LinkMenų Fabrikas was thought as a place where students can conceive an idea and lead it all the way down to becoming a concrete outcome for the society. An idea needs a prototype, a design and you need to market it as well. The hub provides a range of creative workshops that offer access to modern tools for prototyping and media, such as 3D printing, electronics, wood, metal, 3D modeling, animation, virtual and augmented reality, photo, video, and audio. These workshops are equipped with the latest technology and are designed to provide an immersive experience for individuals looking to explore their creativity.

To understand how we approach innovation here, let me tell you about when some of our students made an unprecedentedly tiny gift to Pope Francis: the world’s smallest 3D-printed nativity scene. To create the nanoscale adornment, the research team 3D scanned fifteen sculptures from the nativity scene at the Cathedral Square in Vilnius. They then reduced the size of the 3D models 10,000 times to 300 micrometers (0.3 mm), making it small enough to be placed on a single human eyelash.

How will the next 5 years look at VILNIUS TECH? Are there any further special projects, hubs or events on the horizon for the Creators of Tomorrow?

A very exciting turning point for VILNIUS TECH was in 2021, when we launched the 2021-2030 strategy: our vision of the future. We believe that this future, tomorrow, can be built by engaging the community and society comprehensively. Acting as a driver of innovation and opportunity, we want to foster the growth of all members of this community as creators indeed: each one with its personal contribution.

The contamination between different disciplinary areas doesn’t happen by itself, it needs to be fuelled and we identified four moon shots that will nourish this process:

The first one is centered around the belief that each student can create and shape their own peculiar learning experience. Our educational model is based on supporting students becoming active participants and responsible for the University’s future. This approach to education is seen as a valuable contribution not only to the VILNIUS TECH community, but also to society at large.

In addition to fostering a strong educational community, as I mentioned previously, VILNIUS TECH also strives to build lasting relationships with its alumni, who are viewed as ambassadors for the university. These long-term connections are seen as crucial to the success of the university and its graduates.

VILNIUS TECH places a great deal of importance on partnerships with other organizations, seeing them as an essential element to involve for the development of the community.  In expanding our network of collaborations, we share knowledge-based smart solutions with each partner. Students can benefit from the presence of these actors since they can also advise on which thesis topics to develop for their thesis.

As a universal center of attraction for the academic, societal, and business communities, VILNIUS TECH has become a major hub in both academic and non-academic areas. The university is positioned to play a vital role in the future of education and the wider community.

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