MSc Energy for Smart Cities – Students and Graduates

Student – Laura Perez Casado Graduate – Joanna Skowrońska Graduate – Jasna Rešić
Graduate – Oriol Pujoldevall Graduate – Maria Carnal

Student – Laura Perez Casado

Laura

Name: Laura Perez Casado
Nationality: Spanish
Name of Master’s Programme:  MSc in Energy for Smart Cities
Current University: KU Leuven

After her bachelor’s degree, Laura Perez Casado was looking for something different. Not just two more years of the same. She wanted a programme to provide her with the technical knowledge… but also the hands-on experience to see how this knowledge can be applied to solve real-world problems AND create business!

 

Why did you the MSc in Energy for Smart Cities programme?

Finishing my bachelor’s, I realised I did not want a master’s programme that follows the same structure. I thought of applying for a job, since I truly believe that the best way to learn is throughout experience, but then I found the InnoEnergy Master’s School. The field of energy for smart cities seemed like a perfect fit, as it offers you way more than a typical master does. They really focus on you… how to grow YOU as a person – not just the knowledge part.

Is there any special projects or a degree thesis that you are working on at the moment – or have worked on before?

I worked on a really cool project last year. We took advantage of the excess heat created in data centres and moved it, via a heat pump, into the district heating system. We solved a heating problem for the community, but also for the data centres. It’s this kind of symbiotic solution that gets me really excited about what problems we can solve in the future!

How would you like to contribute to a sustainable future?

I’m still figuring out what my contribution can be – but I do know that I’m capable of more than I was before the programme, able to work on a team, be a part of a collaborative effort. I know now that it’s not just about me doing something – but about being able to work with others to achieved something great.

Do you feel you were able to interact with InnoEnergy start-ups and industry partners during or after your studies?

Definitely. I was even able to assist at the Start-Up Days in Eindhoven. I especially enjoyed it since we really interacted with professionals from this sector, but also with people that were already working on their start-up. The best thing? It was the first time I could see what it would be like to work at doing something you are passionate about. It was a really enriching experience.

Has the programme atmosphere give you any inspiration for products, services or companies?

I’d like to highlight the Innovation Journey here. It’s incredible how imaginative and original people can be at solving a problem. This gives you REAL insight to how the innovation world works. My specific project using industrial symbiosis was a major breakthrough for me. When you discover a problem that can be solved while simultaneously solving another problem, it’s amazing. I’d like to go further into symbiotic solutions to create sustainable communities.

In what way, do you believe your 2 years here will contribute to your professional career?

I can only imagine. Just after finishing the Innovation Journey, I’ve really picked up some major soft skills that I know are going to be very useful. The skills that I will need to get out there in the business world, to critically examine and identify good opportunities and then effectively act on them. This programme is forming me as a person, giving me the opportunity to really challenge myself and see how far I can go.

Graduate – Joanna Skowrońska

joanna

Name: Joanna Skowrońska
Nationality: Polish
Name of Master’s Programme: Energy for Smart Cities
Current Employer: Deloitte
Current Position: Intern

MSc Energy for Smart Cities graduate, Joanna Skowrońska has had an amazing ride during her two years in the programme. She’s not only grown her technical knowledge – she’s had the kind of incredible experiences that truly changes a person for the better. And along the way, she’s found her passion in the field of renewable energy.

Why did you choose the MSc Energy for Smart Cities programme?

I knew that attending these top-ranked universities and the study situations they would offer me would give me opportunities that I would not be able to explore at my home university. I wanted a more diverse, international community – which I was a part of through their mobility concept, allowing me to study in Stockholm, Grenoble and Barcelona. I believe these new experiences form us and let us learn a lot about ourselves. This is just as important as the technical knowledge!

Why are you interested in sustainable energy? Do you have any specific passion within this field?

I have to admit that I did not really have a real passion for sustainable energy before I started my education with InnoEnergy, and I quickly realised that my awareness of the environmental issues was on a very basic level. Thanks to this experience and the people I met, I was able to develop a much more structured view on how to address these challenges within the field of energy engineering – and hope to contribute to introducing many changes in my country that will help us move away from coal and have a stable energy supply. So I actually found my passion through the programme.

How do you believe your 2 years at InnoEnergy have contributed to where you are now in your professional career?

I am quite sure they were a major factor. The international experience and knowledge I gained in Smart Cities solutions were very much valued in the selection process for the position in which I am now. I am an Intern at Deloitte Consulting in the dept. of Energy & Resources – a great position that allows me to use my field of expertise! I work on projects of a very diverse scope, varying from regulation implementations, through market research and operational evaluation.

What would, in your opinion, be the main benefit of doing an InnoEnergy Master’s Programme?

Aside from the obvious opportunities that come from being a part of this wide-reaching community is the experience itself. Yes, you will get that solid technical education that you need – but also the personal growth from the experience is something that can’t be learned from a textbook. How to speak out and give your opinion. How to critically examine a challenge to find the proper solution. And most of all how to tap into the network and find the answers – or support – that you seek.

What kind of students do you believe would thrive in a programme such as the one you participated in?

Open and willing to experience different things. Those who are not afraid of a quickly changing environment. They do not have to be particularly driven to change the world and contribute, I wasn’t… But I am now 🙂 and InnoEnergy supplied me with quite a few tools to do so. I strongly value the experiences I have had during the past two years. The chance to study abroad, practice languages, meet a bunch of amazing people in the InnoEnergy network and beyond, explore different countries and cultures and travel and just basically test myself in every way possible. I would happily do it again and recommend it for everyone!

Graduate – Jasna Rešić

Name: Jasna Resic
Nationality: Bosnian and Herzegovinian
Name of Master’s Programme: Energy for Smart Cities
Current Employer: European Commission
Current Position: Programme Officer

Master’s School graduate Jasna Rešić is managing Horizon2020 projects as a Programme Officer at the European Commission. Working in research and innovation will gave her the opportunity to make an impact on the environment and society, to fulfil her goal of helping people embrace sustainability.

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 a Programme Officer at the European Commission managing Horizon2020 projects in the areas of High Performance Computing and Cyber-Physical Systems. I also deal with the policies related to digitising European industry. These policies will create the new industrial revolution in Europe by making the digital change and provide job opportunities, while allowing us engineers to contribute to the economic and ecological changes ahead!

The InnoEnergy programme has given me a solid engineering background to deal with the many issues I face daily, the deep insight to understand what a project is about and how the solutions will make an impact. My insights gained at Master’s School gives me an advantage, as I have experience collaborating with colleagues of different backgrounds and the communication skills also help me to simply connect science to people. The ‘Entrepreneurship and New Business Development’ course and Innovation Journeys taught me how to think outside the “engineering box” and gave me new entrepreneurial skills to add to my technical background. I believe that having this hands-on experience contributes not only to personal development but also to any future project.

How do you see yourself evolving in your career?

Tomorrow, I will be in an energy related job dealing with the challenges of the future – such as renewable energy, distributed generation, and similar. Working in research and innovation will give me the opportunity to make an impact on the environment and society, while the networking skills I am currently gaining here will add up to make an impact globally. I don’t see myself as someone who will reinvent the wheel but someone who can alter that wheel for the sake of this fast growing society… and the global village of our planet!

Where does your passion for renewable energy come from? And what’s your vision for the future?


My purpose is to help society embrace sustainability – because without doing so we cannot maintain our quality of life as human beings, the diversity of life on Earth, or our ecosystems. As we have seen from the recent natural disasters, Earth is getting angry. Climate change is really happening and we need to start acting now. It’s not too late for change – the root of change lies in understanding and striving for sustainability – in our own homes, communities, ecosystems, and around the world. Small things will make a difference and one thing is for sure… that no success has ever come to those who have not tried, failed and then tried over and over again.

Graduate – Oriol Pujoldevall 

Name: Oriol Pujoldevall
Nationality: Catalan
Name of Master’s Programme: MSc Energy for Smart Cities
Year Graduated: 2017
Current Company: Grid Singularity
Current Position: Marketing & Communications Manager

Master’s School graduate Oriol Pujoldevall is working towards the creation of the first public blockchain for the energy sector.  He naturally gravitates towards roles where he can contribute the most (while having fun) in pursuing his goal to disrupt the Status Quo and be a voice in this paradigm shift.

 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:

Grid Singularity is part of the Energy Web Foundation. We are contributing to the creation of the first public blockchain meant to address the specific needs of the energy industry. Our platform will serve as a base layer infrastructure capable of hosting blockchain-based energy use cases, becoming some kind of decentralised “AppStore” of Energy Applications. All our development is completely open-source, incentivising the formation of a community of developers and start-ups sharing their knowledge and advances.

Today, I am a Marketing & Communications Manager at Grid Singularity – creating innovative solutions to send out our message in a clear and understandable way. The MSc in Energy for Smart Cities programme provided me with a way of channelling my thirst for innovation and change. Since my background was in energy engineering, I found especially valuable the side of business, entrepreneurship and soft skills. For my current role, all these skills form a solid combination. Also, the mobility component is quite powerful… all these people coming from different backgrounds and realities but with the same drives are put together. You don’t realise it at the time, but these friendships grow into lasting professional bonds.

What’s the biggest challenge facing your company?


Raising awareness. Our work is already well known in the sector; however, the revolution we propose will only be complete when all actors across the value chain are aware of the colossal amount of opportunities that our platform offers. My objective is to spread the word and create innovative solutions to turn deep technical content into clear and understandable packages. I’m driven by change. What is static becomes boring and life consuming, while change is disruptive and stimulating. Tomorrow, I will always take on the roles in which I can contribute the most – while having fun in the process.

What do you want to achieve?

We are creating what will be the new paradigm for the energy sector. Among thousands other things, this will allow consumers to monetise their own energy production, thus becoming prosumers. They will obtain new revenue streams out of already existent energy sources (mainly solar) that are currently being wasted, limited by either lack of awareness or limiting tech/policies. This new trend of decentralised solar generation will also reduce CO2 emissions. The energy market will be formed by millions of IOT devices, buying and selling energy in a completely automated way. We will see a decentralised energy sector, reaching new degrees of empowerment, efficiency and transparency for the user.

My vision for the future is clear. The young network we created through the programme will grow into the most relevant community of entrepreneurs and highly skilled professionals driven by sustainability and innovation. At the InnoEnergy Master’s School Kick-off (Fall 2015), I grasped for the first time how powerful this could be, and that feeling has never left me since

Graduate – Maria Carnal

 

Name: Maria Carnal
Nationality: Spanish
Name of Master’s Programme: MSc Energy for Smart Cities
Year Graduated: 2017
Current Company: Gas Natural Fenosa
Current Position: Engineering Project Manager

Master’s School graduate Maria Carnal feels very motivated and fortunate to have the opportunity to work within the sustainable energy sector at this exciting point in time. She is eager to keep learning in order to develop personally and professionally – with the selfless goal to improve everyone’s life.

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:

Gas Natural Fenosa is a multinational energy company operating in over 30 countries. I work in the Innovation department, which is divided into two lines of action. The first focuses on Smart homes and appliances – while the second, my area, is about distributed generation and self-consumption. We offer our clients (end-customers from the residential, industry or tertiary sector) new services by integrating energy efficiency and developing equipment to optimise their energy consumption.

The most valuable skill I obtained from the programme is the innovation mind-set, particularly from the Innovation Journey. It is something I have never experienced before and has been crucial to help me detect new challenges and to not be scared to test new ideas. Today, I am motivated and I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to work within this sector at this particular time – and to develop myself personally and professionally.

Throughout my studies I developed a problem-solving mind-set, and acquired innovation techniques that allow me think out of the box and create fresh ideas which can be the beginning of new projects! I had many valuable experiences but the project-based course on Energy Management stands out. We choose a small city and with a limited budget adopted measures to create a zero-emissions city. The challenge was to think of new ideas which we could implement and figure out how to subsidise them. It was a great way to link a university course with the real world!

What will be your role in solving the energy challenges of the future?

The key to the energy system transformation is innovation. We must reinvent ourselves and adapt to the new challenges by being innovative. With our strengths and a collaborative environment, we will be able to evolve successfully. In this spirit, our department finds new business models and services for our clients which bring added value. My role is to develop new projects, test new technologies and validate new models which will satisfy the needs of the new era. Tomorrow, I will be eager to keep learning in order to understand a complex world that will demand quicker solutions.

What do you want to achieve?

It is important to change our habits and start consuming in a different way. The most important thing to achieve, and probably the most difficult, is awareness. Everyone knows about global warming and its consequences – but awareness goes far beyond that. It means action, changing habits, transforming processes and a different management. Since lots of processes are already changing, why not introduce sustainability?

It’s a fascinating time to be in the energy field. Every day brings new challenges and working to solve them is exhilarating! My purpose is to keep acquiring expertise to provide our clients with new services in order to improve everyone’s life.