The field of renewable and sustainable energy is has been gaining tremendous popularity. The field has great potential for jobs of the future. Besides, renewable energy is also critical for the safety of our planet. According to experts like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, the energy sector along with Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Biosciences are the three top career paths for making an impact.
Masters degrees in Renewable Engineering & Sustainable Engineering Systems are becoming as popular as Masters in Data Science, AI, Biotechnology etc. In this post, Axel Bruck will talk about his Dual Master’s Degree at KTH (Sweden) and UPC (Spain).
Dual Masters in Sustainable Energy in Europe after Bachelors in Industrial Engineering
Q&A with Axel Bruck
Dual Masters Degree Student at KTH (Sweden) & UPC (Spain)
1. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
Axel: I grew up in a small village close to Nuremberg in southern Germany. This is also where I started my bachelor’s in industrial engineering at FAU Erlangen-Nuremberg. During my studies, I did a couple of internships, mainly within the sector of electric mobility as I was always very focused on the automotive industry, which is a big sector in Germany.
I did one semester abroad in Melbourne and took a gap year to travel after my bachelor’s. Keen for a change I started the master’s Human Factors at TU Berlin that I did not finish as I was increasingly attracted by the sustainable energy sector and found my current master’s program MSc. SELECT (Environomical Pathways for Sustainable Energy Systems), for which I chose UPC and KTH as the universities. It is a project-oriented double degree in sustainable energy systems by the Innoenergy master school.
2. Could you please tell us a little bit about your hobbies and interests?
Axel: Mainly, my interests are outdoors related, which has always been the case since my childhood. Even though having been landlocked most of my life, I developed a passion for surfing as it allows me to connect with nature and stop thinking about anything. For similar reasons, I like hiking, camping, and recently yoga. Generally, I like most kinds of sports.
3. How (or why) did you get interested in the Sustainable Energy sector?
Axel: I did all my work during my studies in the field of electric mobility at BMW, SIEMENS and unu GmbH. At some point, I thought that from an environmental perspective, electric mobility mainly makes sense when powered by renewably generated power, as otherwise the emissions are predominantly relocated. Additionally, while traveling I saw some non-electrified areas. Both points and my concern for the environment as nature loving person got me interested in the sustainable energy sector, as it allows you to have a high impact.
4. You are currently pursuing a Double Masters? Could you please share the advantages (and disadvantages) of such programs?
Axel: The advantages are manifold. It requires you to move place, creates an international environment, where you learn things from various point of views, provides a strong network and finally obtaining two degrees, to name a few. A disadvantage, for example, is a higher organizational effort as different universities sometimes have different requirements.
5. Could you please share the application process for the program?
Axel: To sum it up shortly, the application process involved the selection of the master program among meanwhile eight Innoenergy Master programs, answering various motivational questions, providing a CV, a Bachelor’s certificate with the transcript of records and other supportive documents as well as supplying personal information. Additionally, an English test such as the TOEFL (or IELTS) was required for non-native speakers.
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6. Please tell our readers about your Master’s Thesis project.
Axel: My Master’s thesis project assesses potential application areas for artificial intelligence within the area of polygeneration in rural Kenya. Polygeneration is the integrated production of multiple energy services, such as electricity, heat, cooling and potable water from potentially multiple energy sources such as PV, wind or biofuel/fossil backup.
The project is done in cooperation with KTH in Stockholm and the Portuguese company RVE.Sol that is providing integrated, containerized electrification and water purification solutions in Kenya. The mainly addressed area is electricity demand and supply balancing, as it is a common challenge in those off-grid projects.
The thesis is structured in a literature review, an energy balance and demand-response model written in Python, an expert interview regarding machine learning and preliminary testing of machine learning supported irradiance and PV power forecasting based on simulated weather data.
If you are knowledgeable in the field of machine learning I would highly appreciate your contribution to the shortened expert questionnaire (< 5 minutes): https://survey.sogosurvey.com/r/QKnyld
7. You have been to Germany, Australia, Sweden, Spain, and Portugal for studies and research projects. What have been your main takeaways after living in different cultures and studying/working environments?
Axel: My main takeaways are on the social side, such as the ability to easily approach strangers and being approachable to others, being aware of social concepts and if needed adapting to those and a great network of friends with various backgrounds. Furthermore, from a more academical/professional point of view, again the network of contacts is a big takeaway but also the different approaches to challenges depending on different cultures and habits.
8. How would you describe the education systems in Germany, Spain, and Sweden? What are the main differences, according to you?
Axel: This is not easy to answer, in my opinion. I would say that education in Germany is slightly more theoretically driven. However, I might be biased as I assume that bachelor programs are more theoretical than master’s, especially considering that my current Master’s is very project orientated.
Also, differentiating Spain and Sweden is difficult. The Swedish education I experienced was very group project intensive and gave a lot of freedom to the student, while subjects in Spain also involved projects but in my opinion with more focus on theory.
9. You had internships at BMW and Rehau AG as well as working student jobs at Siemens and unu GmbH. What are the differences between an internship and a working student job?
Axel: Not much actually, the expression working student might be a German thing. The main difference, in my opinion, is that an internship is usually full time. Working student jobs, on the other hand, are performed up to 20 hours per week, to gain some working experience and cover living costs, while studying.
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10. How did those internships influence your career path and career progression?
Axel: As aforementioned, since all these jobs were related to electric mobility, which is still an area of interest of mine, they strongly influenced my switch from mechanical to sustainable energy engineering.
Related Article: How to Make the Most of Your Internships
11. What would be your advice for the folks looking at to do Masters in the Renewable/Sustainable Energy field in Europe? How should they approach (or plan) their career path?
Axel: Since I am very pleased with the program I am doing, I can only recommend applying for this kind of Masters in Europe. It is an important and forward-looking field and there is a great choice of universities and cities to study among European countries.
How someone shall plan their career path is hard to answer, as I think this totally depends on personal preferences. I from my side can recommend taking advantage of exchange programs or extracurricular activities, but this might not be the right path for everybody.