La Trobe University Engineering Students donate significant funds to students in Bosnia & Herzegovina

Top row: Beau Anasson, Ryan Green, Ben Anderson, Eddie Custovic, Matthew Felicetti, Thomas Gauci, Teodora Raducan & Ahmad Ahuonbar Bottom row: Jordan Gleeson, Karl Lonn, Ben Adlam, Chris Sawyer, John Hodder

Top row: Beau Anasson, Ryan Green, Ben Anderson, Eddie Custovic, Matthew Felicetti, Thomas Gauci, Teodora Raducan & Ahmad Ahuonbar

Bottom row: Jordan Gleeson, Karl Lonn, Ben Adlam, Chris Sawyer, John Hodder

Thirteen Engineering and Computer Science students and graduates of the School Of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences at La Trobe University, Melbourne collaborated in an effort to aid fellow engineering students in Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H), with impressive outcomes. A staggering AUD 2,900 (BAM 4,000) was donated to BH Futures Foundation.

In 2016, the ten students and three graduates were given an opportunity to attend a ten-day study tour of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Their journey was academically motivated, with the intention of enriching the student’s knowledge of technology and innovation in Europe as well as consolidating La Trobe University’s strong policy in the essentials all graduates need to possess; global citizenship, entrepreneurship and sustainability thinking.  The students had the opportunity to visit major infrastructure projects such as the Corridor 5C highway construction, construction of the national prison in Sarajevo and two large hydroelectric power plants in Herzegovina. They took part in the congress where they listened to powerful stories of success from local and international speakers. Speakers who overcame war torn Bosnia & Herzegovina, speakers that were refugees, not that long ago as well as speakers who came back to Bosnia & Herzegovina to empower young people to change status quo. The congress enabled students to take part in technical and non-technical workshops together with their peers in B&H and the innovation hackathon that impressed so many. Most importantly, the La Trobe University students immersed themselves in the rich culture and history of B&H and formed friendships with local students with whom they cooperated during the IEEE Student & Young Professional Congress in Sarajevo.

The short-program abroad, which was instigated by Edhem (Eddie) Custović, an engineering professor and representative of the School Of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences at La Trobe University in Melbourne and founder of BH Futures Foundation, inspired students to recognise the disadvantages and barriers faced by engineering students in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

As response to their journey, students were motivated to create change by contributing to the BH Futures Foundation and the motives behind their altruistic activities are described in their testimonials –

‘By donating to BH Futures Foundation I felt that I was giving the youth of Bosnia and Herzegovina, similar opportunities to the ones, which I was so lucky to have in Australia. I believe everyone has the right to chase their dreams regardless of their demographic or background. And I would encourage others to donate [because] there is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving. Through BH Futures Foundation we can create hope and happiness for the youth of Bosnia and Herzegovina.’
Chris Sawyer, Bachelor of Civil Engineering (Hons)

‘I decided to donate to BH Futures Foundation because I believe that something that is a small gesture from me, could eventually have a major impact on the life of a deserving student in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Furthermore, having visited Sarajevo for the SYPC 2016 and being witness to the effort committed by the board and volunteers of BH Futures Foundation for the youth of BiH, makes me sure that the money I donate will be put to good use for hardworking students that definitely deserve it!’
Karl-Henrik Lønn, Bachelor of Civil Engineering (Hons)

‘I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to attend the Student and Young Professionals Congress in Sarajevo in December 2016. Through the congress, we were able to meet and build relationships with young Bosnian academics and students, and subsequently it became evident throughout the congress that all the Bosnian students possess a passion for Electrical Engineering, accompanied with a wealth of knowledge and a desire for innovation in their chosen field. This knowledge and expertise has been developed by all students devoting themselves to a predominantly theory based curriculum at University.

This strict adherence to a theory based course has resulted in students not gaining enough practical experience to be able to operate effectively in a professional environment, subsequently resulting in students being starved of the opportunity to utilise their engineering knowledge on real world projects. I have chosen to donate to the BH Futures Foundation to ensure that other intelligent and committed Bosnian students are provided the same opportunities to succeed and thrive in the professional environment as I have.

I am hoping that this donation will be used to as a vehicle for Universities to form working partnerships with corporate organisations, which will allow students and academics the chance to work within a company and gain experience in applying their knowledge in a more unstructured learning environment.’
Thomas Gauci, Bachelor of Civil Engineering (Hons)

‘I had the pleasure of forming friendships with Bosnian-Herzegovinian students at the IEEE Students & Young Professionals Congress in Sarajevo, in December 2016. What inspired me about these students, was their level of motivation and passion for engineering. Regardless of the terrible past that these students have endured during their formative year between 1990-1995, they are positive and full of hope for a better future. They want to innovate and change people’s lives for better. They are amazing, very bright and friendly. I was also impressed by their broad technical knowledge. I contributed to BH Futures Foundation because I believe this is an investment in the future of Europe and humanity.’
Teodora Raducan, Bachelor of Engineering (Hons)

‘I believe financial circumstances should not be a factor in the road to success, but rather skill, ambition, good attitude and hard work. And I hope that my small donation will assist a student to focus the best aspects of their early career and time through innovation in engineering without the worry of tertiary costs. BH Futures Foundation is an extremely worthy cause to help out essentially our peer students on the other side of the world, giving them access to a good degree and opening up great windows of opportunity in the future. ‘
Nicholas Cherry, Bachelor of Civil Engineering/Bachelor of Business

BH Futures Foundation has nothing but praise for the students and graduates of La Trobe University. On that note, BH Futures Foundation would like to highlight that the generous donation of AUD 2900 (BAM 4000) will go a long way to help fund two scholarships. In fact, with the students’ gift, BH Futures Foundation will be able making a real-life impression in the lives of disadvantaged tertiary students in Bosnia and Herzegovina, who face many obstacles and hardships in order to complete their studies.

We will also take this chance to thank our facilitator, La Trobe University, which has successfully cultivated not only academically astute future engineers and graduates, but also humans that care for the welfare of their peers. La Trobe University was established on the belief that a university can and should be useful to the communities it touches, and its students have become the embodiment of this mission.

To all our contributors and partners, thank you once again for your donations and support. It means the world to us! Our next scholarships will be awarded to two individuals and will be presented at the Conference on Medical and Biological Engineering on 17th March, 2017, Hotels Hills, Sarajevo.

With Sincerest Gratitude,

BH Futures Foundation