Student – Maria Kolmer
|Name: Maria Kolmer
Name of Master’s Programme: MSc Clean Fossil and Alternative Fuels Energy
Current University: Instituto Superior Técnico, Lisbon
MSc CFAFE student Maria Kolmer is busy working on her master’s thesis defence, but took a few moments to tell us a bit about her amazing experience in the programme over the past 2 years. It’s been full of fun experiences, travels and lots of hard work – and she’s really proud of herself for taking on this challenge so successfully. Rightfully so.
Why did you choose the MSc CFAFE programme?
I wanted to step out from my comfort zone and challenge myself in a new environment abroad. I knew I would have a unique chance for travelling around Europe and I was very determined to apply here. Also, nowadays the significant share of energy is still produced from fossil fuels – a smooth transition from fossil fuels to alternative fuels requires specialists who can combine those two fields. I chose my programme to better understand current technologies applied in energy market – and to also get to know modern, clean technologies based on the alternative energy sources. I know that my CV will stand out from others, increasing my chances in the European job market.
Why are you interested in sustainable energy?
I believe sustainable energy production is crucial for the environment. For many countries it is a still long-term goal – but it must be achieved. I’d like to take part in this transition, from current technologies to the more sustainable ones. In this way, I feel like I can make a contribution, even if it’s just a small, to the well being of future generations. My specific interests include data analysis and machine learning techniques. I believe that those modern computational systems have huge potential and can make big impact in the field of energy engineering.
Is there a special projects or a degree thesis that you are working on at the moment?
Thanks to the InnoEnergy, I started an internship with one of their industry partners SBB ENERGY in Poland. After the internship I was offered a part-time position. I was analysing data in the process of NOx reduction, which was really interesting work and I discovered that I love analysing and programming data!
For my master thesis, I developed a fault detection algorithm. It’s based on the pattern recognition in the energy consumption. I’m working on this with the cooperation of a Portuguese start-up company EnergyOT, which produces smart meters, which I explore utilising in my thesis for fault detection.
What is your best memory from your time with the Master’s School so far?
My best memories are connected to the field trips that we had in Poland. We started the semester with an integration weekend in the mountains nearby – where we got to know each other doing cool activities like driving quads and playing paintball. Also, one month later we went to see a hydropower plant in Alps in Austria, then a waste plant and a dam on the Malta River. It was really cool to explore this region and see these amazing structures.
How do you find the integration of business and entrepreneurship in the programme?
Out of all the additional courses that I had during my studies so far, I’ve benefited the most from the weekly entrepreneurship course organized by Católica Lisbon School of Business and Economics: “Entrepreneur in a Week: From Dawn to Pitch”. This course gave really good insight into the challenges that every entrepreneur faces.
Has the programme atmosphere give you any inspiration for products, services or companies?
Thanks to the programme’s mobility concept, I’m way more confident at looking for employment in the European job market. The unique feature of InnoEnergy is that they are in cooperation with both big industrial partners and start-ups. I’ve gotten a change to get to know both environments so I can choose the option I like better. I have also enjoyed meeting people from all over the world. This international atmosphere, where you are able to meet and discuss the energy challenges of all these different countries/continents, has really broadened my horizons. I feel I’m getting a very well rounded education that just would not have been possible somewhere else.
Graduate – Maciej Zyrkowski
|Name: Maciej Zyrkowski
Name of Master’s Programme: MSc Clean Fossil and Alternative Fuels Current Company: PGE Energia Ciepla S.A.
Current Position: Specialist in R&D department
Master’s School graduate Maciej Zyrkowski works in the R&D department for several power production plants. His goal of a more efficient & eco-friendly power production process is driven by a passion to contribute to more energy security for his country & better air quality for the city he lives in.
Tell us a little about what you are doing now, and how the skills and knowledge gained at InnoEnergy Master’s School prepared you for this work:
Today, I am working in an R&D department of several power production plants – focused mainly on combustion problems. Our customers are large power plants that use mostly coal, but also biomass and natural gas. We develop and implement innovative ideas for them, as well as deliver energy services.
My programme complemented my power production process knowledge with invaluable technical skills. On top of that I received a solid education about the business creation process and entrepreneurship, which has opened my mind in many ways. And I really value the international experience, learning to work with people from different countries and cultures.
I received great support from both universities – AGH in Poland and IST in Lisbon – with my dissertation, which was published in a highly renowned magazine. Overall, I am grateful for having had this experience. Energy production in large power plants is a very complex process. My education allows me to look at problems from different perspectives, which I believe is my competitive advantage.
What’s the biggest challenge facing your company, and what will be your future role in helping to solve it?
Tomorrow, I will contribute to a more efficient and environmentally friendly power production process. People rarely do great inventions on their own, but a motivated team can make a significant change. I am a part of such a team already and can see how we can contribute to making a better world!
Fossil fuel plants need to reduce emissions – however they also need to keep energy prices low. I live in an immensely polluted city, where many households still use fossil fuels for heating. These small furnaces cannot get rid of dust or sulphur emissions and therefore pollute the air. The best solution is to encourage those households to connect to the municipal heating network, which is powered with hot water produced by our power plants. So the challenge is to meet strict emissions limits, but also maintain low energy prices for our customers.
Where does your passion for sustainable energy come from?
My purpose is to contribute to more energy security for my country, as well as better air quality for the city I live in. I think Krakow is a truly lovely city and it really pains me to see it suffocating during wintertime.
In many places in the world coal and other fossil fuels will still be utilised in the next decades as we develop alternate choices, and that’s why we should not give up on research in this area. I think InnoEnergy’s programme Clean Fossil and Alternative Fuels is the great answer for that!
Industry – Jaroslaw Zuwała
|Name: Jaroslaw Zuwała
Company: Institute for Chemical Processing of Coal
Position: Research and Development Director
The Institute for Chemical Processing of Coal is a partner of the MSc Clean Fossil and Alternative Fuels Energy programme. Their director of R&D, Jarosław Zuwała, is an active AGH University of Science and Technology academic teacher who works as a mentor, MSc thesis supervisor and reviewer. He shares how InnoEnergy students are easily one step ahead of the competition:
Can you briefly describe what your company is doing?
The Institute for Chemical Processing of Coal is a research institute supervised by the Polish Ministry of Energy. The Institute takes part in many R&D and know-how implementation projects, cooperating with more than 50 national/international scientific and R&D institutions. The Institute is basically focused on the thermal processing of various solid fuels by means of gasification, pyrolysis and combustion. Apart from regular R&D activities, we cooperate very closely with the commercial clients who are SMEs, as well as large energy and fuel sector companies.
What type of people is your company looking for?
Our goal is to hire people who will be a part of innovation chain. The seeking of new ways for meeting market demand is yielding the highest return on investment – much more than incrementally improving a company’s existing lines. An interesting Report of Future Work Skills 2020 outlines the following statement: “The educational institutions… are largely the products of technology infrastructure and social circumstances of the past. The landscape has changed and educational institutions should consider how to adapt quickly in response… placing additional emphasis on developing skills such as critical thinking, insight, and analysis capabilities, including experiential learning that gives prominence to soft skills—such as the ability to collaborate, work in groups, read social cues, and respond adaptively…”. Along with a solid technological background in chemical and energy engineering, this report explains the very essence of what we seek in our future employees – and exactly what the InnoEnergy programme provides!
How is your company involved with InnoEnergy’s Master programmes and its students?
Traditional teaching methods should be gradually replaced by case study teaching methods. I am personally involved in case study teaching development for engineering education. Together with my colleagues, Krzysztof Pikoń from Silesian University of Science and Technology and Karol Sztekler from AGH University of Science and Technology, I was proud to develop the pioneer guidelines framed in the report “Case studies implementation in InnoEnergy Master Courses” in 2014. I have also developed a business case which ran during my “Clean Fossil and Alternative Fuels Energy” course at AGH UST in 2016, and my Institute is involved in summer trainings for InnoEnergy students. For 1-2 months they take an active part in R&D projects financed from government, EU, or direct customer projects.
What benefits do you believe an InnoEnergy Master’s degree gives the students?
The knowledge as to how businesses are created and run, puts them one step ahead of “classically” educated students – making them more attractive in the job market. They are
more open-minded to new cultures and professional challenges, while the international mobility gives multi-national perspectives and is a great asset when applying for international organisations. They have the opportunity to develop multiple language skills and a large network of valuable contacts with high-level industry representatives. The combination of an engineering education with business and entrepreneurship skills gives them a better understanding of the final consumer needs, so they are able to prepare better products/offers for them – thus creating higher revenues. Technical knowledge is great, but in the end, you need to turn that into viable businesses ideas. This know-how is their biggest asset.