Pompeu Fabra University comes third in the LEDU STEM Telefónica chairs tournament

Promoted by Telefónica with the aim of fostering the dialectical skills of future science and technology professionals. Miquel Oliver is the director of the UPF Telefónica chair.

The LEDU tournament (Spanish University Debate League) for students of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) is promoted by Telefónica to foster the dialectical skills of future science and technology professionals.

The School of Engineering and the Department of Information and Communication Technologies ( DTIC ) entered two teams. The first, comprising Andrea Valenzuela , master’s degree in Interactive Intelligent Systems from the UPF School of Engineering, and UPF Josep M. Ferrer , a student on the same master’s degree, who came third in the LEDU tournament tying with Carlos III University of Madrid. The second UPF team was formed by Cèlia Burrel and Gonzalo Plaza , students of the bachelor’s degrees in Audiovisual Systems Engineering and Biomedical Engineering, respectively.

Miquel Oliver , director of the UPF Telefónica chair observed that: "The truth is, the idea and the execution of a university debate for STEM students has been a success. It has destroyed the myth surrounding key skills in oral communication possessed by engineering students of UPF and stresses their importance in any higher education environment. Andrea and Josep M. have worked very hard on their preparation and being runners-up is a well-deserved reward".

Josep M. Ferrer stated that "neither Andrea nor I had any experience in the world of debating. In fact, that was one of the reasons that made us decide to enter. For the moment, we’re both very happy with the experience and to have got this far. In fact, trying out debating is helping us not only acquire more fluency and naturalness when speaking, but it has allowed us to learn a lot. You can tell just by looking at the improvement we made between the first and the second debates of the competition".

The grand final was held on 15 May and the results were announced. First place went to the team from the Polytechnic University of Madrid, and second to the University of Valencia. The tournament took place online and involved some thirty students aged between 18 and 24 years doing a STEM degree at universities that have a Telefónica chair.

Algorithms was the subject chosen for the debate

"Are we are personally and socially protected from the control of algorithms?". This was the question posed for the teams to argue both for and against in what was a lively debate, with numerous references to the law, to necessary and unstoppable digitization, as well as the importance of acquiring digital skills and issues of fairness and equality.

Promoting skills that are highly valued by companies

Through this pioneering tournament in Spain, Telefónica and the LEDU encourage and foster soft skills related to argumentation, emotional intelligence and empathy, time and stress management, teamwork, critical and innovative thinking, problem solving, and in general all sorts of skills and abilities that combine efficiency and effectiveness, which are highly appreciated nowadays by companies, as they set students who are destined to become future science and technology professionals apart.

These skills complement the training of technology professionals in a country with a growing demand. Spain is the EU state that has most grown its base of companies employing ICT specialists: 117% between 2012 and 2020.

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