Sofia Almpani
PhD student and Researcher at School of Electrical and Computer Engineering (NTUA) and Teacher in Elementary School
Sofia Almpani is a PhD Student at the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at National Technical University of Athens (NTUA). Her research interests focus on Logic, Logic Programming, Robotics, Dance, and STEAM. Sofia received her first Bachelor degree from the Faculty of Education School of Elementary Education (AUTH), the second one from the Department of Mathematics (UOA), and the Master degree “Educational Leadership, Management and Emerging Technologies” from University Marconi. Moreover, she has diploma as a dancer and as a dance teacher in Modern Theater Dance from the Imperial Society of Teacher of Dance (ISTD). The last years, she participates actively as a researcher in studies, meetings, and papers in research projects such as in COST action “Wearable Robots: Augmentation, Assistance or Substitution of human motor functions” (CA16116), in H2020 project “Inclusive Robotics for a better Society” (INBOTS), in Erasmus+ “STEAM2GO”, and in NGI H2020 “Legicrowd”. She also works as an auxiliary teaching staff in School of Applied Mathematics and Physical Sciences (NTUA), as a teacher in Elementary School, and as a dancer/ dance teacher.
Tell us about your career path.
Why did you choose a STEM profession?
Was your interest in STEM encouraged?

Even though I started my “career” as a teacher in primary school, I soon realized that I was missing one of my truly-loved fields: Mathematics.  It was then that I decided to start a second degree in Mathematics.

The truth is that in the beginning many people tried to advise me to study some other field, something that would be “easier” and “I would be able to complete”, and also that “it was impossible to finish a mathematics degree without taking courses” (because I was working in parallel). I decided to give it a try, even if I was going to fail.

At first, it was something I was doing “just for myself”. But the spark has ignited. So, after four years, when I completed the Mathematics degree, I decided that STEM-related fields are where I wanted to be and I continued as a PhD student at the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

At first, it was something I was doing “just for myself”. But the spark has ignited.

How was your educational/university experience? Do you have any memorable experiences to share?

My experience at mathematics university was a kind of a solitary road trip, since working in another city didn’t allow me to participate actively in the courses. What I remember mostly from these years is that I always had a math book or notes in my bag and study them in every chance: in bus, in doctor’s waiting area, or lying in sunbeds at summers.
My current experience as a PhD student in School of Electrical and Computer Engineering is more active and thorough. However, computer engineering was not a discipline that I intended to pursue, as I never imagined myself as an “engineer”. Actually, my intention was the School of Applied Mathematics, but an unintended shift led me to Engineering, revealing parts of myself that were unknown even to me until then.

Where do you work?
What would you do during a typical day at work? What do you enjoy most about your job?

I work as a researcher at NTUA and as a teacher in a public elementary school, so a typical day includes teaching pupils in the morning and doing research in the afternoon.
I really enjoy the combination of these two, since I have the opportunity to follow my dream and at the same time to teach and inspire young children to follow their dreams.

What are your plans and aspirations for the future?

My plan for the future is to continue doing research in STEAM-related fields, trying always to combine different disciplines and approaches together, exploring the range of their possibilities but also mine. And also try to motivate and encourage other people to do the same.

What do you like to do outside of work? What are your passions and hobbies?

Even though I enjoy doing many different things, such as bicycling, drawing, volunteering with animals, hiking in nature, etc., my biggest passion (but not necessary “outside of work”) is dance. I really enjoy dancing or creating choreographies and I truly believe that art can play a vital role in STEM (or STEAM) fields

What advice would you give to other young girls and women who plan to pursue a STEM career?

It’s up to you to follow your path, even if not many others have walked it before you. Believe in yourself and follow your dreams!