Across Turkey, water, climate, energy and diversity will reach more stressed and risky levels in the near future due to a combination of climate change, growing population and industry development. If our youth lose hope, they will push sustainability in the background. That’s why young people’s visions and perspectives are needed when we set out to solve the world’s problems.
“Our project aims to prepare engineering students for business life as future sustainability leaders. There is no opportunity to experience real-life practices in the education system yet. The project Responsible Engineers of Sustainability was developed to bridge this gap and it brought together the Sustainability Steps Association and Grundfos Turkey, sharing concerns and solution-oriented perspectives for the future,” explains Gonca Başar, Communications Manager at GRUNDFOS Türkiye.
Sustainability Steps Association (SADE) is a Turkish NGO that promotes development of sustainable studies. SADE develops projects, organizes trainings and workshops, and shares inspiring practices regarding sustainable development to contribute to the transition towards sustainability in institutions and societies. The Responsible Engineers of Sustainability project, carried out with the support of the Foundation, aims to reach 1,000 young engineers in its second year.
In the Solution Workshops, one of the three main activities that make up the project, students take on different roles and identify the sustainability-specific problems under various themes. Young engineers are encouraged to see the relationship between their engineering disciplines and sustainability. During the workshops, young participants experienced a solution-oriented approach by using non-formal education methods, creative thinking techniques, and brainstorming.
“We care about young people taking an active role in solving water, climate, energy, and diversity problems around themselves. It could be waste management in their university, climate adaptation of their own city, or water problems in their own neighborhoods. When we turn a problem from the abstract to the concrete, it can be faster to find a solution and they will gain motivation and strength to expand their perspectives and fight more complex problems,” says Gonca Başar.
Building on experience
The first time around, Responsible Engineers of Sustainability was based on online inspiration panels and a limited number of workshops due to the pandemic. Panels and workshop videos were published on the YouTube and got more than 15.000 of views. Again this year, a handbook and videos will be published on the project web page and social media channels for those who cannot attend in person.
“I believe that the awareness of the project by word of mouth spread is thousands more than these numbers. What young people really need is to discuss the problems lively and physically and push their limits to be a part of finding the solutions. This feedback is very valuable to us and that’s why this year, we will only do 2 online events and will continue the program with the same principles, expanding it further, being more experienced and prepared and drawing on more technical knowledge and strength from Grundfos,” says Gonca Başar.
Turkey geographically consists of 7 regions. Although every region has very rich cultures, it also has differences in terms of economy and consciousness. GRUNDFOS Türkiye reached out to 7 big cities in these 7 geographies and cooperate with local universities and academics. The journey began recently, and the workshop calendar will continue throughout the year.
Grundfos engineers as role models
At GRUNDFOS Türkiye, the Responsible Engineers of Grundfos group drives the the project and the members show their young colleagues how they can turn sustainability action into viable jobs. In addition to being inspired, they mentor with technical, theoretical, and sustainable perspectives. Other participants come from a wide variety of responsible practitioners, sustainable brands, municipalities, academics, influencers, and opinion in each region. Some of them will be both participants and share their knowledge by volunteering in our workshops.
As a bonus, Grundfos volunteers develop themselves while developing others, no matter if they are new or old employees.
“We are proud to talk about our jobs. We are an engineering company, and we should share our knowledge with the future generations. The young engineers will be decision makers and lead the path to a sustainable future in the companies they work for. Perhaps the seeds of great works to be done in the future will be sown at the tables in our workshop discussion groups, with the opportunity provided by Grundfos. Just knowing this is very promising and motivating to try to do better,” Gonca Başar concludes.