MSc SELECT Pathways for Sustainable Energy Systems – Students, Graduates and Partners

Student – Jacob Dalton Student – Michiel Roelofs Graduate -Tom Huizer
Graduate – Govinda Upadhyay Graduate – Link Diwan Graduate – Farah Cheaib
Industry partner – Magnus Lindén

 

 

Student – Jacob Dalton

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Name: Jacob Dalton
Nationality: Australia
Name of Master’s Programme: MSc SELECT
Current University: UPC

Jacob Dalton, MSc SELECT student, can now take all his passions – travel, creating synergistic connections and being part of the change needed for a sustainable tomorrow – and focus them in one direction: to help move our society as a whole towards holistic sustainability. His highly motivated personality is perfect for this exciting quest.

Why did you choose the MSc SELECT programme?

I did a lot of research – and this was a standout programme that offered me input from an immense range of areas, not purely on technical aspects but also on broader social, economical and environmental concepts. This is right inline with my belief that modern day problems will only be solved with a viewpoint that considers the complexity of the issues – and the connections between multiple dimensions.

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

I believe climate change is the most critical issue faced by humanity, but it’s a direct consequence of broader issues that highlight how our current system is broken. I see the advancement of renewable energy as not only the cornerstone for tackling climate change, but also a catalyst to the advancement of our society towards holistic sustainability as a whole… and I want to be part of the transition!

Are there any special projects or a degree thesis that you are working on at the moment?

I am currently working part time as the Community officer assistant in the InnoEnergy CommUnity – whose aim is to become the most impactful sustainable energy community through innovation and entrepreneurship. One of the tools is a platform – a customised one for sustainable energy – to create events, connect people and the industry that all have the same goals, to create these synergies and allow these connections to flourish.

What is your best memory from your time with the Master’s School so far?

My best memories have come from my opportunities to travel during the programme, experience vibrant new places and meet fascinating people. I mean, yeah… I’ve travelled a fair bit in my life, but I’ve never been exposed to so many people that have the same values and goals. It has really been a highpoint!

How would you like to contribute to a sustainable future?

By empowering the less fortunate people through access to sustainable energy technologies and improved policies. While also improving the currently short-sighted and disconnected practices ubiquitous throughout our society. Not only in terms of our energy generation practices, but also our systems – which are currently founded on consumption and infinite growth… on a finite planet. This is not sustainable in the long-term.

How do you find the integration of business and entrepreneurship in the programme?

I have thoroughly enjoyed this integration. We must operate within the paradigm of the current situation where much is founded on economics – hence requiring “business” integration. However, we also identify the flaws in the how the status quo operates – hence the need for innovation and entrepreneurship, to push the boundaries of what is considered standard practice.

In what way do you believe your 2 years at InnoEnergy Master’s School will contribute to your professional career?

It has improved me in almost every employable measure – from technical foundations and business/entrepreneurship training to improving my professional and multicultural relationship skills – just to name a few. Not to mention direct exposure to the vast array of contacts within the InnoEnergy ecosystem. I feel that I’m really growing as a person – and ready to face real-world energy challenges and the marketplace itself head-on!

Student – Michiel Roelofs

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Name: Michiel Roelofs
Nationality: Dutch
Name of Master’s Programme: MSc SELECT
Current University: University of Technology Eindhoven

MSc SELECT student Michiel Roelofs has a lot on his plate: a master thesis, co-founding a start-up, organising a renewable energy congress and more. All steps towards his goal of integrating renewables into energy markets and society. His enthusiasm is contagious as he describes his experience in the programme so far.

Why did you choose the MSc SELECT programme?

For me, it was really about being part of the frontrunners in energy. The fact that every InnoEnergy master student dedicates two years of their life in two new countries, working together with people from different backgrounds, truly shows the commitment and ambition of this group.

Tell us about your degree thesis and any special projects that you are working on at the moment…

For my master thesis I am analysing the integration of decentralized flexibility (e.g. electric storage) into the energy markets and systems of both Sweden and the Netherlands. My year in Stockholm introduced me to the SWECO energy markets department, a partner in the POY (project of the year), which was great! And recently I co-founded and organized a congress on renewable energy in Eindhoven for a crowd of 300 people – a combination of corporates, start-ups, and knowledge institutes.

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

Definitely! My main focus is on integrating renewables into energy markets and society. In my first year I worked on a large POY for a Spanish energy company in the Pyrenees. This smart rural grid project has been by far my most useful educational experience. Solving a real-world industry problem in the Pyrenees from a classroom in Stockholm was challenging to say the least. However, actually working one-on-one with the executives of the company and visiting those places – this real-life interaction – gave us the feeling that we were already making an impact. Also, this was the inspiration for the collective power concept I worked out with Nikodem Bienia, which resulted in being a finalist in the climate colab competition hosted at MIT in Cambridge last October.

How do you find the integration of business and entrepreneurship in the programme?

Entrepreneurship has to come from internal motivation, so you have to find a balance between incubator push, and student pull. However, the fact that you encounter a lot of (ex)students who took the actual leap shows you that it can be done!

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

I recently co-founded a start-up, developing a state of the art solar optimizing chip (MPPT). On top of existing markets, we believe it will enable new products and applications to integrate solar energy into our everyday lives. We are just starting a user-pilot with electric bikes – with solar panels integrated into the wheel. I am also a project member of the InnoSpace project at the TU/e. We are developing a space where the entrepreneurial students and researchers of the TU/e can develop innovations together. The concept is to combine our successful student teams, student start-ups, new multi-disciplinary education projects, and state of the art research project in a single building.

In what way, do you believe your 2 years at InnoEnergy Master’s School will contribute to your professional career?

InnoEnergy has showed me the amazing diversity of the sustainable energy world. Entrepreneurship, corporates and innovation projects are not an abstract concept in a textbook anymore.  It’s a tangible thing – and I’m now a part of it!

 

Graduate – Link Diwan

linkDiwan

Name: Link Diwan
Nationality: U.S.A.
Name of Master’s Programme: MSc SELECT
Current Employer: Direct Energy Solar
Current Position: Solar Engineer

MSc SELECT graduate Link Diwan is a gentle soul with a great vision of what the future could look like. He’s building the foundation to achieve his goals, based on the knowledge and skills from his time in the programme and always adding more. He shares why he was happy with his choice to study at InnoEnergy Master’s School.

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

I strongly believe that sustainable energy is key to our human survival as a species.  More broadly, sustainability in general (sustainable business, sustainable economics, sustainable energy, sustainable agriculture) is a topic that I am passionate about.  My expertise currently is built in energy, and I want to expand that to include economics and development, to help our civilization transition from our current open-loop development model to a closed-loop eco-friendly scenario.  I believe that through this effort, effective use of resources will reduce global strife and increase Peace worldwide. I’m very passionate about caring for our planet and for the people (and animals!) who live here with us.

Tell us a little bit about where you are now and what you are doing:

Currently I am a solar engineer with a residential solar energy company.  My responsibilities include ensuring that our engineering documentation is correct, coordinating work orders and installations, and interfacing with other players in our organization to ensure that our quality standards are met.  After graduating I inherited my childhood home, which was in disrepair.  I moved back home to the USA and have been putting a lot of time into fixing that up – so I’m still learning a lot of practical skills!

 What was some of your best memories from your time spent in the programme?

My personal highlight for the SELECT programme was completing our second-year PoY (Project of the Year), working with EcoQuarteri per l’Italia to help identify the best ways to attain Torino’s sustainability goals.  That project was real world experience, and knowing that our work may help their transition towards sustainability is a wonderful feeling.  Also, in the summer of 2012 I applied the training in business plans that we received in year one, and won a business plan competition – the Young Innovator Fellowship 2012 from the UN-ITU.  I’m happy to say that all those lectures about the “business plan canvas” paid off!

How do you believe your two years at InnoEnergy Master’s School have contributed to where you are now in your professional career?

My studies with InnoEnergy Master’s School were formative for me, and have shown me a level of operation and impact that I was unaware of.  Because of that experience, my career goals are at least in sight – and I’m actively looking for the next step in my career. Through the SELECT programme, I have gained the tools to contribute at a high level, integrating business function with engineering nuts-and-bolts.  I’m working to gain the experience and build a base to really make a difference to our international community in the field of sustainable development; this is just where I see myself making the most impact.

What kind of students do you believe would thrive in a programme such as this?

It was amazing and rewarding to be in a group comprising such a wide variety of types of people.  Some of us were nature-loving, tree-hugging, hippy-in-business-suit types, some were coming from (and going back to) the oil industry, some were looking for a way to escape political oppression in their home country, some were… you get the picture. I think the only pre-requisite for thriving in the SELECT programme is an excellent understanding of thermodynamics, and a focus on both breadth and depth of knowledge.  You learn not a lot-of-a-little, nor a little-of-a-lot, but a lot-of-a-lot, in SELECT!  A lively curiosity was my closest ally in tackling the programme.

For prospective students looking at the programme – Go for it!  The InnoEnergy programmes are amazing.  Academically, it’s what you make of it, which is true wherever you go.  But the InnoEnergy framework provides a lot more: a focus on the business side of things, amazing international exposure and a great network of colleagues and friends.

Graduate – Farah Cheaib

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Name: Farah Cheaib
Nationality: Lebanese
Name of Master’s Programme: MSc SELECT
Current Employer: Estabanell Energia
Current Position: Innovation Assistant

Farah Cheaib, attributes to the MSc SELECT programme not only new perspectives she gained personally and professionally – but also that it started her on her career path, helping her sign her first contract with a utility company. She’s well on her way to accomplish her goal of doing meaningful work in this field.

Why did you choose the MSc SELECT programme?

I was looking for master programs online, in the field of sustainability and energy, and I came across this option. I liked MSc SELECT because it included both the environmental and business aspect. To me, these are both important because I didn’t want something purely research oriented – that wouldn’t easily link to everyday life. And in my current position, at a power utility in Spain, I use all these aspects. I am working in the innovation department, and we are doing an analysis of the energy sector transformation, looking at how new ideas can be applied, and participating in European projects pertaining to smart grids. So it’s not only about the “technical” aspect of things but also how this traditional technology and sector can be transformed in a new innovative way.

What is your best memory from your time at InnoEnergy Master’s School?

I think my best memory is from my 2nd year when we did our grand challenge, one of the year long Msc SELECT projects. We were working with the NGO Lightup Borneo, which aimed to solve the problem of people living in remote places without access to electricity (but having LOTS of water resources). In particular, I remember hiking to a water source in Borneo to investigate its hydropower production. Our goal was to form a sustainable business model for the NGO that would make it less dependent on intermittent donations. We were able to get funding from KTH to support the project for a more concrete and relevant outcome. I learned so much, working with a diverse group of people, getting that hands-on experience by going on operations, interviews and installations. It was so interesting!

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

I was a student representative in the CommUnity in both locations I studied at (Barcelona+Stockholm), so I was lucky enough to actually help organise activities – such as the speaker series and the start-up days. This was a great opportunity for me to interact with a number of start-ups and people, in a great “behind the scenes” setting… so I could start growing my own network.

How did you find the integration of business and entrepreneurship in the programme?

I think some aspects were good, such as the entrepreneurship crash course in the winter at ESADE. Throughout this intensive course I felt really engaged and discovered a new way of seeing things. A different aspect from the purely technical one. It was challenging but I enjoyed it.

The projects we worked on in our courses also really helped us develop our problem-solving skills and learn to be independent. The courses gave us the freedom to explore different projects and apply our knowledge
.

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

The possibilities that are available to you during the masters, in terms of choosing what kind of topics/projects you want to be involved in – and then the support you receive from the programme to pursue them. Also the soft skills you learn from being in international settings, this is the kind of real world education you can’t get from a textbook. A lot of valuable things are folded into that – subtle lessons and skills – different ways of working together,  learning to deal with different people and being flexible. And finally the contacts you make with your fellow students, this has really been beneficial – because they are now friends and we are connected through this experience but we are also all going to work in the same field, so it’s definitely nice to have this strong network in place.

How did your programme help to prepare you for what you’re doing today?

It’s given me an overview of the energy field and a deeper understanding of the overall system. I’ve learned how to tackle multidisciplinary problems, to think innovatively, find information independently and learn on my own. The soft skills I gained have also been valuable, as how to express myself and how to work remotely on projects with colleagues from all over the world. I even learned Spanish in my first year in Barcelona! The whole experience has been really great.

Graduate -Tom Huizer

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Name: Tom Huizer
Nationality: Dutch
Name of Master’s Programme: MSc SELECT
Current Employer: HEAT POWER
Current Position: Business Developer

When Tom Huizer finished his bachelor degree, he was looking for a different kind of programme for the next step. Something that went well beyond engineering future energy technologies. He found it in the MSc SELECT programme – and a whole lot more. Tom now works with one of the many exciting start-ups supported by InnoEnergy.

Why did you choose MSc SELECT?

I finished my bachelor programme in Mechanical engineering at TU/e in the Netherlands – as I have a great interest in developing renewable energy technologies to battle climate change.  However, I felt the challenge goes beyond engineering alone – involving a more multidisciplinary and multicultural approach. For this reason I chose the InnoEnergy MSc SELECT programme.

How did you find the integration of business and entrepreneurship in the programme?

A great part is the summer/winter programme at the ESADE business school – a definite eye opener. For the first time I got a different perspective on the global challenges of today – and learned that it takes a lot more than just a technical background to develop your ideas from a working prototype into a successful product. We applied newly found skills during projects and trips, giving a hands-on experience in both business and entrepreneurship.

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

I always have been fascinated by climate change and the impact it represents. I joined a glacier expedition to Greenland in 2014 to study the effects of climate change and during that expedition I truly understood the scale and importance of the changes we have to go through as a global community. Standing there, with vast emptiness in front of you, at the edge of this ice field – and then the locals pointing out that yes, the ice is here… but it used to be there. Absolutely haunting.

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

We had several guest lectures by InnoEnergy supported start-ups. Some of my fellow students ended up doing their theses or performing their internships there. I am now working at one of these start-ups called Heat Power, that has developed a highly energy efficient co-generation system that can deliver steam and electricity to the manufacturing industry based on bio/waste-stream-fuels. Being responsible for business development is a perfect combination of the skills I acquired during my studies – technology development and business insights.

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

I still apply the tools gained there today in my job. A broader mind-set on top my engineering skills and the confidence to take different approaches and try new things. Before the Master’s School, climate change was just an engineering problem to me. Now I see the full picture.

Are there any final thoughts on your experience you’d like to share?

The diversity you get to experience while studying there is invaluable – in countries, people, cultures and behaviours. Being able to overcome differences and be part of a very motivated community, ready to change the energy game is key. I believe that through the power of collaboration we will make this happen – and that the international setting of InnoEnergy is a great place to start!

 

Graduate – Govinda Upadhyay

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Name: Govinda Upadhyay
Nationality: Indian
Name of Master’s Programme: MSc SELECT
Current Employer: LEDsafari
Current Position: CEO and Founder

CEO and founder of ed-tech start-up LEDsafari, Govinda Upadhyay is a true believer in the importance of networking. With a long list of accomplishments under his belt already (Forbes and BITSAA’s 30 under 30, EIT CHANGE AWARD, finalist for Forbes’ Change the World Award and the Asia 21 Young leaders list) he has really parlayed his time spent at InnoEnergy Master’s School into creating an invaluable network that he still taps into today.

 

Why did you choose the MSc SELECT programme?

After doing some research, I saw it was the only programme with sustainable technology and business. And it included the mobility option, which was very cool – that you could go to other countries and learn even more by having that multi-cultural experience. I liked the real-world interaction, from various interesting workshops and conferences to internship possibilities with InnoEnergy industrial partners.

How did you find the integration of business and entrepreneurship in the programme?

This was very relevant to me. I enjoyed and learned a lot – and I owe a lot of credit to this for my start-up. My company LEDsafari aims to assimilate clean energy and sustainable innovation education through a unique science and design training centred on creating a solar LED lamp. My business concept is a direct outcome of my master’s thesis – which was built around a business case.

I also had a couple job offers through the network after graduation. And I have to really highlight the networking. Between the students, industry partners and faculty. It’s what really helped me develop my idea and turn it into a business. And I’m still tapping into this network. I will always be in touch with these people.

You’ve received some exciting awards… tell us a bit about them.

My work has led to some really nice recognition – my very first being the EIT (EU) CHANGE AWARD in 2015. It was a total boost to my confidence level and great PR since I was recognized on an International platform. I’d say the second most exciting one was being a finalist for the Forbes 2015 Change the world award. You can’t imagine what it was like to come out in top few of about 2600 competitors. Not just the award money – which was awesome – but the fact that it was Forbes! I was so proud.

What is your best memory from your time at InnoEnergy Master’s School?

Academically? The Project of the Year (POY). It was a very exhilarating time, to meet and discuss and further the project with the other participants. International teams working together. Building an exciting business case, first in Sweden and then split in different locations but still keeping in touch with SKYPE. During this time we got a lot of help from InnoEnergy and the whole network. The answers to help you were there; you just had to ask the right questions.

Personally? The winter class in Torino. Skiing for the first time… what an incredible experience. I was able to learn and do it in the couple days we were there – I got hurt a little – but it was so fun! This made me want to live near the mountains and snow. Something totally different than where I’m from.

What would you like to say to a student interested in taking an InnoEnergy Master’s programme?

You need to be proactive and start figuring out what you want to get out of the programme. The 2 years go by fast. When you get that clear picture – the experience will be amazing and you will get out of it what you want. The network is the most important. Tap into it immediately. When you are a part of this network, you really feel special, part of something big.

Any special skills acquired during your 2 years at InnoEnergy that have been of particular use in your professional career?

Aside from giving me tons of insight into modern day sustainable technology and how we can involve business into it… I also learned a great skill – how to travel effectively. With my own business I have to travel a lot. You need to be able to stay focused, not to get tired and to stay productive. It’s one of the first things you learn with the programme!

 

Industry partner – Magnus Lindén

Name: Magnus Lindén
Company: Sweco Energuide
Position: Head of section – energy analytics

Magnus Lindén spends his days not only juggling projects, but also thinking about what’s next. How to keep momentum going to maximize profits. He knows the value of being self-motivated, to adapt to any situation and work in diverse surroundings. And he shares how InnoEnergy Master’s School students are trained to succeed in this dynamic atmosphere.

 

Can you briefly describe what your company is doing?

A transition to sustainable energy systems is underway across the globe. Sweco’s energy experts work across the entire energy supply chain. Focus is on how energy is produced, distributed where it’s needed, and consumed as efficiently as possible. The result is a reliable, cost-effective and environmentally sustainable energy supply.

What challenges in sustainable energy do you see in the coming years?

In my department at Sweco, the challenge is the business case i.e. market design and regulating. To meet these challenges we need people with an analytic eye, who are self-dependent and know when enough is enough. And as consultants, there is always a time limit and budget – it’s not everyone that can work under these conditions.

How is Sweco involved with InnoEnergy’s Master programmes and its students?

We’ve been involved in the business cases with start-ups. Where the students take a really good idea and build a company around it. They use their time and energy to work on this task – but to also to combine the start-ups to create synergy and make the ideas more marketable. This is a very smart approach that InnoEnergy is using.

We also work with challenges in the SELECT programme. These are always super fun! At work I spend most of my time in meetings and in the office – so it’s nice to spend time with these energetic young minds and really get that energy back from them. The best part of working with them is seeing all the possibilities within them – and knowing the great things they’ll get to accomplish in their careers. They are off to a wonderful start with the programme and I’m personally interested to see where they will go!

What benefits do you believe an InnoEnergy Master’s degree gives the students?

An adaptive work style. This is really important when you consider the wide range of working environments they’ll find themselves in. As consultants, we work on several projects each day – you need to be able to juggle, to adapt and to be able to work in a diverse environment.  The InnoEnergy programme really is successful at setting them up to work in this environment. The students that we’ve personally worked with have all mastered this important skill.

They also need a broad base of knowledge – not just the technical, but the business and entrepreneurial skills. These students get the best of all worlds. As a consultant you need to be a self-starter, to always be thinking ahead, to learn while doing and to constantly move things to the next step. They are trained in this type of thinking. It’s going to be invaluable in their future careers.

How would you describe the students that you’ve engaged with?

Bundles of energy. I really enjoy working with them. To them, it’s all perfectly clear – here’s the problem, here’s the solution. They aren’t bogged down with only seeing the obstacles, as can sometimes happen later in life; instead they see the open field to run in. It’s inspiring, really.

What value do you, as an employer, see in combining engineering education with business and entrepreneurship skills?

To work with and be a part of the transition to sustainable energy systems, it’s a must. It will never only be down to just technology. We already have the technology to solve almost every problem. It boils down to money. If the innovation is too expensive, it won’t work – because there’s no market model and legislation won’t support it. It doesn’t matter how clever your technology is, it’s about whether it’s a viable business model and whether regulation will support it. You need to understand all aspects of the market. This is where the technology, business and entrepreneurial need to meet.