Student – Hanna Schlegel
|Name: Hanna Schlegel
Nationality: Germany/South Africa
Name of Master’s Programme: MSc EMINE
Current University: KTH Stockholm
MSc EMINE student Hanna Schlegel is in her first year, already taking full advantage of all the “extras” that the InnoEnergy Master’s School offers its students. Between extensive studies, working on exciting projects and attending events, she’s also active in the InnoEnergy CommUnity – this is one student who is truly embracing the full Master’s School experience.
Why did you choose the MSc EMINE programme?
I wanted to be on the ‘cutting edge’ of nuclear engineering since I first started investigating it in my teens. I think it’s an amazing technology with a lot of potential; and the more we know, the more safely and effectively we can utilize it. When researching master’s programmes in nuclear energy I came across the MSc EMINE programme. I was so impressed by the integration of energy engineering, business and sustainability, that I actually only applied to the Master’s School. And I’m very happy I did!
How do you find the integration of business and entrepreneurship in the programme?
I like that InnoEnergy keeps the doors open for us to learn about the start-up’s affiliated with them. It’s inspiring to see what your idea could turn into. I am currently still in my first year, and our summer school is coming up – where we will be most involved with business and entrepreneurship in our field. It’s an exciting time for me as I’ve always had an interest in the business and entrepreneurial side of things. I think they all tie in together and the programme really emphasises that.
Why are you interested in sustainable energy? Do you have any specific passion within this field?
I come from South Africa – where coal is cheap, high grade and readily available, and mining constitutes a large part of the economic activity. Air pollution and environmental degradation is already evident, and the only way to stop the destruction of beautiful countries like South Africa – without hindering their development – is to implement sustainable energy. As South Africa is resource-rich (wind and solar), this seems like an obvious answer; but without industry interest and economic reasoning, it’s not so easy. My particular passion is to bring clean energy to developing nations, to get their development on a sustainable track.
Do you feel you were able to interact with InnoEnergy start-ups and industry partners during your studies so far?
Yes, for example, MSc EMINE Stockholm students have been invited to attend the celebration of achieved funding for a nuclear energy start-up called LeadCold. At all of the many InnoEnergy events (speakers series, KICK OFF, CommUnity and InnoEnergy start-up events – just to name a few), there are lots of industry partners and start-up representatives that talk to us and tell us their stories. This is very exciting for us!
Tell us your favourite parts of the curriculum – what sets the InnoEnergy Master’s School apart, in your opinion?
I’ve really enjoyed the highly customised curriculum and taken full advantage. I don’t think it’s good to corner yourself into one specific field or area.
Also, the project-based learning – we’ve had some very interesting projects that allow us to use our own creativity to solve real-life problems. I love this applicable learn-by-doing!
Another plus is the individual learning – that’s been really useful, especially as there’s a lot going on. They record the lectures so you can catch up and be as pro-active as you like.
Last but not least, the in-field courses – one of the coolest things. Getting to work on an actual nuclear reactor In France?! Amazing. It really helps you to truly understand by this hands-on learning. A totally different perspective than just looking at slides of the site.
In what way do you believe your 2 years at InnoEnergy Master’s School will contribute to your professional career?
The InnoEnergy Master’s School is well known in the industry and has a good brand. Plus, international experience – like I’m getting now – is highly valued today in the job market. Lastly, the connections I have made thus far through my studies and the extensive InnoEnergy network will be invaluable in the coming years!
Graduate – Chirayu Batra
|Name: Chirayu Batra
Name of Master’s Programme: MSc EMINE
Current Employer: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Current Position: Nuclear Engineer
MSc EMINE graduate Chirayu Batra reflects fondly back on his challenging but rewarding time spent at InnoEnergy Master’s School. Oftentimes, we don’t see the value of something until well after we are finished with it – but it sounds as if he really embraced the moment during his time spent here.
Why did you choose the MSc EMINE programme?
Given my love for physics along with an interest in nuclear, EMINE was the clear choice. Having a few years of work experience made going back to school a little bit intimidating, so I researched various schools looking for something that would help in applying my technical knowledge in the corporate world. InnoEnergy Master School focuses on academics but also on their application in the real corporate world, which was just what I was looking for. I didn’t find this anywhere else. The program is well integrated with projects that actually relate to real companies. I appreciate this approach – having students involved in real companies rather than giving them a superficial ‘real like’ environment.
What is your particular interest within this field?
I firmly believe that solving the energy problem is the utmost priority of human kind. This is one Gordon knot that needs to be opened. But we cannot create more problems at the cost of solving one – therefore the solution has to be sustainable. As an engineer I believe in technology, and the solution to the current energy scenario is technology with maximum energy efficiency, with minimum negative effect on environment. I am pro all other sustainable sources of energy but have a special affection for nuclear. I believe that the current demand for huge energy can be solved by an equal source of huge energy – nuclear. I always call nuclear a dark knight, a silent guardian. It is there to solve the imminent energy as well as climate change problem; we just have to embrace it.
What is your best memory from your time at InnoEnergy Master’s School?
It was full of various technical tours to provide us with a better understanding of the application part of our studies – very important for engineers. I remember our visit to Ascó nuclear power plant, one of the few engineering marvels I have seen in my life. Great weather, springtime, one of my first visits to a power plant – and here is this huge structure, and the engineering is so intense – it’s not everyday that you get to see a gigantic system like this working. At home, your lights come on and you don’t think about what’s making that electricity. To see it happen in real-life, not just facts and figures on paper. It was incredible!
Also visiting the site of the ITER fusion reactor in Cadarache. I probably would never have had a chance to see that. The programme is designed with amazing technical visits like these, so you study the physics and then you can see them applied. That’s a real education.
How did your programme help to prepare you for what you’re doing today?
I work in a very multi-national/cultural environment and the first year can be quite challenging for most people. But thanks to EMINE I was already prepared. And of course, the technical knowledge gained was very imperative – but it goes beyond technical. In nuclear you have many other aspects to the job. You need to develop those soft skills to succeed.
What kind of students do you believe would thrive in a programme such as the one you participated in?
The environment is very dynamic and competitive with lots of activities running in parallel. It will deepen your technical knowledge, while broadening your understanding of the societal, economic and environmental impacts of nuclear energy. It’s a demanding course, but a life-changing experience.
Graduate – Otavio Ribeiro
Originally from Brazil, Otávio now works for NUKEM Technology, a German-based company whose activities involve the dismantling of nuclear facilities and the management of nuclear waste. He says that the EMINE programme changed his attitude towards nuclear power and now he is working on doing the same with public opinion.
Why did you apply for the EMINE programme?
I decided on the programme because it combines management, innovation, business creation and energy – which is one of my passions. I didn’t know anything about nuclear energy, but I thought it could be interesting because it’s a very polemic area. I thought, let’s see why there are so many people who really believe it is a solution to our energy problems. And actually it worked, because nowadays I am a very serious advocate of nuclear power.
Why are you passionate about energy?
Energy is what moves the world. I would say the safe supply is one of the most important problems mankind has to solve. For 150 years we have lived in a hydrocarbon age. We are powering our houses and our cars almost the same way that we did 150 years ago. The energy issue is a fundamental problem to be solved if countries want to develop and, at the same time, to fight against climate change, pollution and other problematic matters.
Can you tell us about your thesis project?
I worked on a project to plan the dismantling of a nuclear reactor in Armenia, where I was able to put into practice what I had learned on the programme. My company had a lot of knowledge, which I used. But, at the same time, I had fresh ideas coming from the programme so I used this shared knowledge to complete my project. In the end they were very happy with the results, which is why I was hired.
Are you still working with the same company?
After I defended my thesis, I got an offer from this company to stay there and now I’m working with dismantling old nuclear facilities that have reached the end of their lifespan. I feel I am playing an active role in trying to contribute to solve the energy issues of the world. Two months after I started at the company they put me in a proposals group. I get to try and create interesting commercial proposals for our future customers. I couldn’t wish for more, really. I’m very satisfied.
What do you see yourself doing in the future?
I am quite ambitious. I have dreams of international organisations, such as the International Atomic Energy Agency hiring me. That’s my long-term goal.
Graduate – Roberta Cirillo
Graduated 2014, currently a research engineer at the Commissariat à l’énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives (CEA) in Grenoble, France
Roberta graduated as a bachelor of physics. After graduation, she wanted to find something a bit more applied. She had always been fascinated by nuclear engineering and, as she also wanted to find something challenging with an international aspect to broaden her horizons, she chose MSc EMINE.
After spending her internship at the CEA, Roberta was offered a 12-month contract to work on the CEA fusion nuclear project in Grenoble. The project revolves around a fusion nuclear power plant, for which the CEA is in charge of the cryogenic system. Roberta works with dynamic simulations and says that MSc EMINE, and specifically the courses on thermo hydraulics, have been a big plus when it comes to her current work.
“For me, fusion will be the best option for producing electricity in the future, even if it takes 40 to 50 years. Working in the nuclear-fusion domain is the job of my dreams and I hope to stay in this field,” she says.
Technical visits and industrial partners
Technical visits during the programme were really useful for a physicist that wasn’t used to seeing big industrial installations first hand. During the first year in Barcelona, where Roberta was able to visit large installations, power plants and centres where large components are built.
The programme’s network of industrial partners also enabled her to know who to look for and what to ask for when searching for an internship. “When you are in a new field and a new country it’s hard to know where to ask for internships. The network has been really helpful for finding research centres and organisation where I could spend my internship. It put me on the right track,” she says.
Chose to stay
The international experience has made her feel enriched even if she hasn’t used her international studies professionally yet. “I haven’t played the international card yet. But I always get short-listed though – possibly because my CV shows that I have no problem with moving to a different country every now and then. I chose to stay in France and with the CEA, where I did my internship, but the international profile is always beneficial,” she says.
Another card she hasn’t yet played professionally is the innovation and entrepreneurship skills she got from the programme. Roberta says she has a more complete approach to any kind of technical discussions and can see more aspects of projects and ideas, even if it’s not required for her current position at the CEA.
For Roberta, the most important thing for the future in energy is to think long term. “There are no efficient solutions in the short term. Every solution requires a vision. If you start something today, you see the first results 10 or 15 years from now,” she says.
She also points out that political stability is important. “It is essential for governments to have the same vision so you can start a project that lasts much longer than the term of a current government or administration,” she says. “Patience and long-term organisation is the key, especially in nuclear power and more than everything else in fusion