Tallinn University of Technology

Raivo Sell, as an engineering scientist at TalTech, was chosen as the populariser of science of the year, for his work in developing and popularising robotics in Estonia and abroad. The life time achievement award went to the mechanical scientist Jüri Engelbrecht, for the long time systematic work of popularising research and technology.

"The enthusiasm of Raivo Sell for the field, from within the walls of the university has also reached youths, which has been proven by the significantly increased number of new admissions into the field of product development and robotics. His cooperation with researchers, students, as well as companies, is exceptionally wide reaching”, explained Hendrik Voll, Vice-rector for academic affairs of the university of technology.

Courses in robotics started to be held in 2001, at the initiative of Raivo Sell, at the university of technology. These courses have led to the currently largest robotics competition on the planet, Robotex, which among its initiators includes Sell. He was the founder of one of the most successful student organisations of the university of technology - the robotics club. He is foremost known to the broader public as the initiator and project manager of Iseauto, the first self-driving vehicle in Estonia.

The Iseauto has been visited by heads of state, entrepreneurs, students, school students and researchers from all over the world, as well as by school students. Iseauto assists in touching the future with one’s hands and thus, in the best sense popularises research, by showing what can be accomplishing by thinking and using one’s hands, by smartly combining current knowledge, as well as by creating new knowledge. Currently, the Estonian company AuveTech has been created for the commercialisation of Iseauto, which has successfully taken Iseauto into serial production. The core of the company is formed by the TalTech alumni, who have precisely studied under the hands of Sell.

The life time achievement award in the 2020 contest went to Jüri Engelbrecht, who is an alumnus of the Tallinn University of Technology and a mechanical scientist. Engelbrecht was elected in 1990 into the Estonian Academy of Sciences. He was president of the Academy of Sciences 1994–2004. He is the (co-)author of nine monographs and three textbooks. He has written more than 300 articles, of which about 200 have been in peer-reviewed journals. He has also been the supervisor for the defence of 6 Doctoral and 7 Master’s thesis. Jüri Engelbrecht has received many awards for his research activities, both in Estonia and abroad, including twice the Estonian National Research Award (1992 and 2008).

The aim of the popularisation of science award is to recognise people involved in the popularisation of research in Estonia, as well as give power and attention to activities introducing research and technology to the public. The competition is organised by the Estonian Research Council and the Estonian Academy of Sciences.

Additional information:
Epp Joala
Chief Strategic Communications Officer