MSc Energy for Smart Cities – Students and Graduates

Student – Laura Perez Casado Graduate – Joanna Skowrońska

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!

Joeri Siborgs

Name: Joeri Siborgs
Nationality: Belgian
Name of Master’s Programme:  MSc in Energy for Smart Cities
Year of graduation: 2013
Position: R&D Project Engineer at Elia, Belgium’s transmission system operator

We see a lot in the news about the climate changing, and that we have to react. At first I was interested in the arguments about climate change, and how you could do something to try to mitigate it, and that’s what made me interested in sustainable energy. I wanted to understand what was happening and what we can do about it.”

Entrepreneurship is the key

For Joeri Siborgs the focus on entrepreneurship of the MSc Energy for Smart Cities programme has been the key.

His work in the strategy and innovation department consists of trying to position Elia for the future and to stay relevant in the changing energy landscape. “In the shorter term we look into innovation in order to find a better way to do things, in the longer term we work on rethinking our business, both to change our business model and to change the way we monetise it.  Most of my work consists of communicating with other people. We are not the technical experts; all the knowledge is in the other business units. It is our job to connect these business units both with each other and with external partners. We challenge how these units think about things by discussing, exchanging views and opinions and try to align them. We are constantly being entrepreneurial and thinking out of the box, getting the input we need for a goal from the experts and coming up with visions and conclusions”, says Joeri.

International experience

The international experience and the experience of living abroad have opened his eyes to working internationally, and he says that he recommends it to everyone: “Stockholm is a great city to live in and the campus is really nice.“

He also emphasises the fact that living and studying abroad helps you see things from new perspectives. Working with ABB in Västerås, Sweden gave him useful insight when it comes to understanding how people work in international organisation.


Industry collaboration prepares for the future

KIC InnoEnergy Master School’s collaboration with the industry has also been very useful in finding employment, according to Joeri. Doing his thesis at ABB has prepared him well for his current job: “Being able to discuss my thesis with future employers helped me to identify the key issues of these employers. It was also really useful to learn about corporate functioning and about having that first work experience in a real company. The fact that I had such a positive experience with ABB also translated into a general “good vibe.”


Versatility and broad knowledge

The versatility of the programme has had a positive influence on his current job. During the programme Joeri Siborgs worked with different projects and participated in different kinds of classes. Although not everything was directly connected to electrical engineering it made him diverse, giving him knowledge in a broad spectrum of topics.

“Now it is easy for me to work with a lot of different things, it has made me versatile and given me a broad, general knowledge”, Joeri points out.


The energy challenge of the future

When it comes to solving the future’s energy challenge it’s a difficult question, he says, but the answer is optimistic: “It’s a matter of finding a new stable point between reliability, cost and sustainability. Technically there is no issue, we are capable of solving the energy issues with the technology we have today.  We want three things: reliability, sustainability and cost efficiency. We can never reach 100 percent of all three so we have to reach a good balance. Before, there was a focus on reliability and cost, but now there is a shift towards sustainability. The trick is to shift towards a new stable point where everyone is happy.”

“The international experience was one of the reasons for joining the programme,” adds Joeri, “and my recommendation to future students would be “Just do it”.”