Science and technology at the service of Basque society

We at UPV/EHU’s Faculty of Science and Technology are celebrating: it is the fiftieth anniversary of the completion of our first class of studies. Today we will celebrate the graduation of the class of 2022-23 in Frontón Bizkaia. The young men began their studies in the 1968-69 academic year at the Faculty of Sciences of the Autonomous University of Bilbao, the first Basque public university. The university was made up of the faculties of Economics, Medicine and ours, later called the Faculty of Science. Their first classes were given at 1 Bodica Street, next to the Duesto Bridge, in the old Nautical School, which had already moved its location to Portugal; The latter, in the present Leova building, moved its operation in 1971. The Autonomous University of Bilbao was the seed of the University of the Basque Country/Euscal Herrego Universidade, which was renamed in 1980, integrating faculties and schools from the three historical territories. of autonomous society.

Not long ago I was having coffee with a senior professor from our faculty. Not being from Bilbao, not from this territory, he told me about the difficulties he faced in arriving in time for graduation, as communications seemed insurmountable. At that time, in his words, it was not easy to move from 'deep’ Gipuzkoa. This happened in the 70s of the last century, when communication between territories was very difficult and the author was not well known.

Today the situation is completely different: the Faculty of Science and Technology and the degrees taught there are known – and recognized – by the Basque community. I’m not just saying this: there’s data to back it up. For example, the maximum cut-off mark in UPV/EHU from 2014-15 is set by the two degrees we offer. Also, the course required an entry grade of 12 (out of a maximum of 14) in four of the ten grades taught in it, and it was higher than 11 in two. These are clear indicators. The best students are trained in the Faculty of Science and Technology. Obviously, this is not the result of chance: the contribution of teachers to society is the basis for this.

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Since the first class graduated 50 years ago, faculty have trained over 20,000 graduates. Most of them are bilingual, as they are pioneers in the implementation of Basque university studies. In 1979-80 we offered the first complete courses in Basque in the Biology, Geography and Chemistry degree programs.

Research work is a fundamental objective. More than 2,300 doctoral theses are preserved in our center: professionals who have contributed to the development of Basque society since the end of the dictatorship. These figures indicate a large contribution of qualified and bilingual workers working in various social sectors, mainly in the manufacturing sector, but also in the organizational and educational sectors, many of them in responsible positions. We generate knowledge, which spreads from prestigious international research journals and contributes to the advancement of knowledge globally.

Most of our center’s research has a direct impact on society. A concrete and uniquely important example: various research groups have decisively participated in the restoration of Bilbao’s coastline and participate today in its maintenance work. Other examples are the pollution of our beaches created by the 'Prestige’ environmental disaster, the solution to the 3,000 ton lindane problem that has a very serious impact on human health, or the most recent Covid-19. 19, in which our faculty teams actively participated in the strategy designed for its diagnosis and the statistical modeling of victims.

One of the 'Rover Perseverance’ instruments currently probing the Martian surface is led by a research team from the Faculty of Science and Technology; We also collaborate on the protection and restoration of our rivers and the study of pollution through a census of European coastal ecosystems.

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I thank all the people who contributed to make the Faculty of Science and Technology from this stage to what it is today; Specifically, for the first class to be honored on its 50th anniversary. They were the seed of the fruit that became our teachers, proud of their contribution to the economic and social development of the Basque Country.

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