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Sofia Paiva da Cruz (far left) with fellow classmates at ProTechnicale.

Sofia Paiva da Cruz, an 18 year-old high school graduate from Lisbon, has become the first international student to participate in ProTechnicale’s 11-month, post-secondary training program for young women interested in a technical a career in aerospace and/or renewable energy.

Located in Hamburg, Germany, ProTechnicale was established in 2010 with the goal of channelling more girls into the male-dominated world of mathematics and engineering, which are both integral to the sustained growth of the region’s booming aviation and renewables sectors.

During an elective gap year between high school and university, ProTechnicale offers a broad curriculum that includes qualified instruction in aerospace, renewables and philosophy, practical cooperation with engineers and scientists from research labs, universities and firms, plus international internships and much more.

Paiva da Cruz first learned about the ProTechnicale program from a resource manager at the Goethe institute in Lisbon.

“At the time, I was considering going directly to university and was looking at the chances of doing it in Germany, though I didn’t know exactly what kind of engineering I wanted to study,” she tells APEX. “The lady suggested I try this program, and when I came in touch with the team from ProTechnicale, it fit my entire objective list.”

She feels the program has given her new perspectives on a career in engineering and will help her define her future goals.

“We want to show that ProTechnicale is really innovative, in tune with the spirit of the times and simply the best way to prepare young women for technical studies.” – Dr. Jörg Merlein, ProTechnicale

“The whole experience has been great so far,” she says. “I have been learning what they do in the field I chose, and how to use some of the computer programs they use. I got to see lots of cool things, but I think seeing the ‘naked body’ of the airplanes and seeing the various parts being put together was one of the coolest.”

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ProTechnicale offers a broad curriculum that includes qualified instruction in aerospace, renewables and philosophy.

Dr. Jörg Merlein, managing director ProTechnicale, says Sofia is doing great in the program and that the enthusiasm shown by her and the 15 other girls enrolled this year is very encouraging. He’s thrilled to welcome the first international student and hopes that next year will see even more applicants from abroad.

“We think it is important to ‘go international’ because almost every enterprise is globally organized and connected today. So it is necessary for every graduate to have international and intercultural experiences at the beginning of her or his career,” he says. “We also want to show that ProTechnicale is really innovative, in tune with the spirit of the times and simply the best way to prepare young women for technical studies. We are convinced that our supporters, partners in the industry and also the city of Hamburg (which provides a lot of incentives) will appreciate that.”

Maryann Simson has been covering the airline passenger experience since 2008. Today she contributes to many of the aviation industry’s top publications and provides PR and communications support to companies in the #PaxEx space.