It all begins with an ambitious idea: A collaboration of universities from around the world with the intent to foster relationships between industry leaders and students on every continent. Where local talent is cultivated, leading to better global solutions – so every corner of the world has the expertise to tackle the complex environmental issues faced today. A forerunner in this concept, KIC InnoEnergy Master School broke ground in September 2016 on the new Remote SELECT pilot programme with OUSL (The Open University Sri Lanka). All the participating students, dean, and academic staff from OUSL, KTH and KIC InnoEnergy were present, as well as the ambassador of Sri Lanka in Sweden, H.E. Mrs. Renuka Damayanthie Rajapakse for an inaugural party held at the KIC InnoEnergy office in Stockholm, Sweden.
MSc SELECT and Remote SELECT – an equal education no matter the location
The students from Sri Lanka will remotely follow the courses taught in KIC InnoEnergy Master School’s MSc SELECT (Environomical pathways for Sustainable Energy Systems) for the 1st year of study; and participate in all added value activities. This allows all students, whether they study remotely in Sri Lanka, at KTH (Royal Institute of Technology) or UPC (Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya), to receive the same exact curriculum “common unit” and advanced learning benefits. All the important elements are included: from technical knowledge, economy, environment, societal impact, solutions, innovation, entrepreneurship and teamwork. The 2nd year of the Master programme will then be completed at one of the European partner universities of SELECT consortium, where all students come in with the same base knowledge – for a smoother integration process.
KIC InnoEnergy takes an active role in fostering a sustainable energy future by allowing students to participate in challenging projects with academia and industry as part of their studies. Students gain unique insights into future energy markets and systems – while actively applying the knowledge attained in their studies. The “Project of the Year” (PoY) is a perfect example of this innovative teaching method. And just as in the “classic” SELECT programme, Remote SELECT students are assigned a very real-life scale problem to solve as if they were working as an actual consultant. Sri Lankan students will work together with MSc SELECT students on a PoY commissioned by Wijeya Newspaper Ltd., in Sri Lanka, to identify renewable energy technologies that will replace current energy sources used at the newspaper. This involves conducting a comprehensive feasibility study on wind, solar and biomass opportunities to assess the best method to fulfil the company’s energy demand. Students acquire a much higher level of technical knowledge as they see how it is applied in this real-life challenge; and the collaboration between students from different locations helps develop additional soft skills.
Insights from Jeevan Jayasuriya, PhD – Programme Director, MSc SELECT at KIC InnoEnergy
Dr. Jayasuriya is the perfect candidate to bring this concept to life. His various roles from lecturing SELECT students to programme directing at MSc SELECT (which has been running since 2010, conducted by a consortium of European Universities) have been the ultimate preparation for the task – taking this next-step programme idea and setting everything in motion. A project self-described as, “Challenging…. but very exciting!” He has been heavily involved with distant teaching at KTH since 2006, where he was a key figure in the Sustainable Energy Engineering Worldwide programme from 2006-2012 – which focused on delivering a higher education to African and Asian University engineering graduates. He has also trained in many different teaching methods, such as project-based learning. These techniques are applied in both the MSc SELECT and Remote SELECT programmes to teach the students real-life skills – while exercises help turn theoretical knowledge into practical solutions that will aid in their transition to the working world. Passionate about the programme, he describes Remote SELECT as “a chance for me to provide mentorship to a whole new batch of brilliant young minds – to help them attain their educational goals but to also develop the skills and confidence to actively contribute to the change that’s happening in the sustainable energy sector today.”
The Inaugural Class
Candidates chosen for this year’s pilot programme have gone through an extremely rigorous admission process. Applicants from local universities in Sri Lanka were condensed down to the top 7 individuals, who just made their first visit to Stockholm to take part in the SELECT Fall Seminar held at KTH. The week was very exciting for the visiting students, who integrated well with their peers. When asked what the general attitude of these pioneering students is, Dr. Jayasuriya describes them as, “Extremely driven. They realise and appreciate the value of receiving the tools for continuing a life-long education – meaning that instead of the traditional sense of all the knowledge coming from their professors, the Remote SELECT programme offers them access to a wealth of information through limitless sources.” Just as with MSc SELECT, the strength of programme is the many added value activities that all students have access to – whether they study remotely or not – including the PoY.
The idea is for KIC InnoEnergy to organise more universities join the programme (presently Mauritius, Vietnam and Peru are in the works) and to facilitate more local government-sponsored scholarships. “These remote programmes offer a real benefit; allowing a country’s best and brightest to stay in their homeland – to help solve problems and create industry locally – this can make a huge impact on that country”, Dr. Jayasuriya explains. Being from Sri Lanka, he understands the challenges of studying abroad and the importance of giving back to one’s home country. “For me, the very essence of the programme is allowing students to take the seeds from here, and let them grow in their homeland.” This is truly the very definition of “thinking globally, acting locally”.