Ambassador Pyatt’s Remarks at STEM Stars Greece Awards Ceremony

March 28, 2021

Delivered (virtual) 

Thank you very much, and kalispera everybody.  I want to first of all acknowledge the presence this afternoon of Minister Kerameus, but also all of the judges, the students, the participants.  It’s really great to be here as part of the final phase of the STEM Stars Greece competition and celebrate what I know has been a huge amount of hard work that all the teams have put in to get to this point.

I want to give a special thanks to Theo and Pandora, who have been our partners at the Athens Science Festival and SciCo, for organizing the program and for plowing ahead even in the face of the global pandemic.  We very much missed the festival last spring when we were all in lockdown and are very happy that we were able to make it happen this year.

I also want to thank the Ministry of Education for putting this whole event underneath their auspices.  Our collaboration with Minister Kerameus and her team on this and so many other programs strengthens the bonds of respect and understanding between our countries while also contributing to the “extroversion” of Greek schools and universities.

I especially want to thank Minister Kerameus and her team for their commitment to modernizing the Greek educational system and for continuing to push through what I think are really pioneering reforms that will make future generations of Greek students more competitive and more connected to the rest of the world.  And I really do see right now, this period of time, as a unique window of opportunity to advance U.S.-Greece educational ties in support of Prime Minister Mitsotakis’ agenda.  And I want to promise Minister Kerameus, you will have our Embassy’s full support!

I also want to say a special thank you to Microsoft for investing in these students and the next generation of Greece’s digital workforce, so thank you, Ploutarche.  Microsoft has made big investments in Greece over the past year or two, including the hundreds of millions of dollars that have been committed to digital infrastructure that will put Greece at the forefront of cloud computing in Southeast Europe, the acquisition of SoftoMotive, and the announcement of a robotic process automation hub in Athens.  But I met Microsoft’s Greek leadership just on Friday, and I know that Microsoft is also committed to continuing to invest in upskilling and building Greece’s human capital, and this program is a great example of that.

And finally, thank you to Educ8, for offering the coding kits to the winning teams and for all that you do to promote STEM education in Greece.

STEM Stars Greece is a program that we first envisioned during our U.S.-Greece Strategic Dialogue in 2019 as a way of fostering greater cooperation in science and technology.  And unfortunately, due to COVID-19, we had to postpone the competition last spring.  I have to say, I’m really impressed now to see the quality and creativity of the projects that the students have put forward, and all the different fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics that they cover.  By working together, you’ve demonstrated innovation, intelligence, and remarkable resilience.  We’re delighted that the two top teams from today’s competition are going to be able to represent Greece at the International Science and Engineering Fair in the United States.

This will be the very first time that Greece has been represented at the ISEF, and I can’t think of a better time for you to be doing this than in conjunction with the 200th anniversary of Greek independence.  The Embassy has launched a year-long campaign, which we’re calling “USA & Greece: Celebrating 200 Years of Friendship,” to honor the Greek bicentennial and explore the extraordinary bond between our peoples.  Our campaign includes programs designed to strengthen STEM cooperation, and we’re going to partner with the science festival again this summer to host an experiential space that will highlight scientific breakthroughs by Greek Americans.  We’re also implementing a project with The Hellenic Initiative called “Connecting the Dots” to lift up young entrepreneurs, who are going to be so important to the future of the Greek economy.

I am convinced that Greece’s highly skilled workforce is its greatest asset in the process of recovery from the global pandemic, and I know this has been a key factor for American companies that are investing in Greece today.  And there’s a long list of them: Pfizer, Cisco, Deloitte, Microsoft, Digital Realty, and Amazon Web Services are all expanding their footprints in Greece because of the creativity and vision they see among young Greeks like yourselves, and I know they are committed to helping Greek young people unlock their full potentials.

We also have a new Science and Technology Agreement between Greece and the United States that was signed in Thessaloniki last September that will increase access to scientific materials and opportunities for collaboration between our laboratories.

And finally, and to finish off where I started off, we’re committed to continuing our close partnership with Minister Kerameus and the Ministry of Education to promote collaboration and exchanges between Greek and American academic institutions in diverse fields and disciplines to help prepare Greek young people for a globally connected and digitally powered future.

I want to underline the United States has been Greece’s friend and ally for 200 years now, and we will continue to support organizations like SciCo that work with the Greek government to harness the skills and talents of Greek young people like yourselves and open pathways to your success.

Efharisto poly for letting me join you today, and congratulationsto all of the participants.