I grew up in different countries, mainly because of my dad’s job at a car company. I was born in Austria and when I was four, we moved to Michigan in the United States. After we had been back in Austria for a few years, we went to Shanghai and later Seoul and Tokyo. I was in the Austrian army for six months after I finished school, and then I was accepted at TU Delft and moved to the Netherlands. So I feel very comfortable flying! You could say I got quite used to it and that was one of the reasons why I decided to study aviation. Since I grew up internationally, aviation is the way to see all my friends and also my family in Austria. Without it, I wouldn’t be able to see many of them. The same goes for IDEA League, really. Everyone is spread all over the place. I’m currently doing my master’s thesis with Schiphol Airport in the Netherlands. They want to change their security checkpoint by 2024, so I’m doing a lot of simulations to see what works best.
‘I feel very comfortable flying. You could say I got quite used to it and that was one of the reasons why I decided to study aviation.’
IDEA League is more than the four guiding topics. It’s about the people. Getting to know new people, hearing the way they think, trying to learn as much as possible from the way they have experienced the world. The main reason that I wanted to join was to get a group of international friends. They have really challenged me and allowed me to grow. For example, we were doing stakeholder management during our first weekend. Aerospace is a very technical discipline I guess, and we don’t really deal with any of that. We have a requirement set and that is what we need to learn. Other IDEA League students had a lot more knowledge on how to deal with stakeholders. I felt a bit out of place, but it really challenged me to think outside of the box. I gained a completely new perspective on how to think about such things. Not think of the constraints, like I’m used to in aerospace engineering, but think about what is possible.
From a social perspective it was a lot of fun as well. I grew up abroad, so I feel I already had a sense of how different cultures respond to different topics, or how they have a different approach to solving problems. But you can see that among students from different disciplines as well. One approach isn’t better than the others, it’s just different and you need to be inclusive. You may get the same result, or a better result.
A year after the fourth and last event, my IDEA League group from TU Delft organised a fifth weekend ourselves, and we still meet once every month, or more. We’re actually trying to set up a big international reunion. We weren’t able to come together during the pandemic, but we had multiple meetups on Zoom with up to 16 or even 20 people attending. To new IDEA League students, I would say: be curious. Don’t think that you know everything already or that your way is the best way. Be curious to explore new ideas and meet new people.