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Winners of the Team Impact Awards: ‘This is a powerful motivation’


July 3, 2024

Winners of the Team Impact Awards: ‘This is a powerful motivation’


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This June marked the first ECIU University Forum – with the Team Impact Awards among its highlights. Teamchers and students from the winning team share their unique impact journey – and how connecting with people from all over ECIU University proved a one-of-a-kind experience.

A challenge to remember

Set during the very first ECIU University Forum, Team Impact Awards presented teamchers, researchers and learners from all over Europe with a unique opportunity to showcase the impact they made as part of ECIU University – and its impact on them.  

Although many inspiring stories were shared, only one winner could be selected from several applications. And there was an experience that stood out. It spotlighted an international team that included teamchers from three ECIU University member institutions and over 20 students from 8 countries, Nepal to Ukraine.

University of Aveiro (Portugal) joined forces with Kaunas University of Technology (Lithuania) and Hamburg University of Technology (Germany) to tackle a unique challenge – explore how our lifestyle influences reproductive health and seek solutions that may reshape this influence.  

Solutions that made a difference

If you had to describe the challenge with just one word, it would be ‘diverse’. Participating were students from different backgrounds – ranging from medicine and engineering to marketing. Each had their own point of view and approach, yet all were excited for new perspectives.  

With a joint goal bringing the team together, the results proved more than inspiring, says Margarida Fardilha – an associate professor at the Department of Medical Sciences at the University of Aveiro and one of the teamchers who oversaw the challenge.  

‘We had a very versatile team,’ she explains. ‘There were different students speaking different languages, with different approaches and thoughts on the challenge. They all worked differently, and it brought so much into the project.’

One of the solutions – to introduce a kit for asymptomatic STD testing among students – is currently being developed further. The team even conducted the first testing campaign in collaboration with the challenge’s partners, one of the largest diagnostic providers in Europe Unilabs.  

With 50 people tested, this is just a beginning – and a huge step towards improving young adults’ reproductive health.  

‘I feel like many students learned things they never expected to learn – things that may prove useful in their daily lives,’ says Margarida. ‘I’m sure they will use this knowledge and share it with others in the future.’

Growing together

But it’s not just about the impact the team was able to make. It’s also about the impact the challenge has had on them – both students and teamchers.

‘This was a great experience for the students,' Margarida points out. ‘They were able to identify the problem, find a solution and implement it – growing both as students and members of society.’
‘I was given a platform to deepen my knowledge and apply it to real-world problems,’ agrees Inês Jordão, one of the participants who studies biomedical sciences at the University of Aveiro. ‘And working with students from diverse academic and cultural backgrounds really improved my ability to think critically and creatively.’  
‘At ECIU University, you get to work with like-minded people who are passionate about transformative learning experiences, unafraid to experiment, and unafraid to fail,’ adds Jurgita Barynienė, a teamcher and an associate professor at the Kaunas University of Technology.  
‘Working on the challenge in such a collaborative environment has contributed to my growth as a teacher, giving me the chance to share best practices in applying challenge-based learning, developing assessment strategies, and navigating the unique aspects of working with an intercultural and interdisciplinary team.’

And of course, winning Team Impact Awards has made an impact of its own.  

‘Receiving this award was an honour’, says Inês. ‘Not only did it recognize our collective efforts but also the significant impact our project has made. For all students and teamchers involved in this challenge, it’s a powerful motivation to continue participating in such initiatives and making meaningful contributions to society.'
‘It will be an inspiring example for future initiatives that promote a culture of innovation and seek practical solutions to challenges through cooperation,’ notes Asta Daunorienė, a teamcher, head of KTU EDU Lab and an associate professor at the Kaunas University of Technology.

Connected for life

These experiences embody what ECIU University stands for – and the power of its community. That’s why for Margarida finally meeting all the participants in person was one of the challenge’s biggest highlights.

She hopes the connections they all made will stay with them for a long time. In fellow teamchers, she found reliable friends, and in the students – a real source of inspiration.  

‘It was a pleasure to work with them – to learn together with them and from them,’ she points out.

She also hopes more learners will use the opportunities ECIU University provides – a wish other participants share.

‘At ECIU University, you can explore all kinds of challenges,’ says a University of Aveiro student Beatriz Rodrigues. ‘And you can participate even if the challenge is from a different field – because each competency has its own value.’
‘I would encourage all students interested in participating in ECIU University challenges to take full advantage of the opportunity,’ adds Inês.  
‘ECIU University offers a unique platform where you can collaborate with peers from diverse backgrounds, tackle real-world problems, and make an impact on society. It's a chance not only to broaden your perspectives and develop new skills but also to meet new people – and learn from them.’

Photo: Justina Suminaite, KTU


ECIU is the leading international consortium of research intensive universities, with collective emphasis on innovation, creativity and societal impact, driving the development of a knowledge-based economy.