Two students working together with miniature windmills.
Two students working together with miniature windmills.
Unite! Spring School inspired students for further studies in sustainable energy
Two students working together with miniature windmills.
70 students from the seven partner universities of Unite! took part in the Spring School on sustainable energy, organised by PoliTO on 17-19 May, 2021. The M.Sc. students were selected among 400 applicants.
The first Unite! Spring School was hosted by the Politecnico di Torino and focused on the new energy frontiers, from energy storage systems, fuel cells, smart grids, to opportunities offered by hydrogen, sustainable nuclear and bioenergy. The three days of online activities included lectures by internationally renowned scholars from the seven Unite! partner universities, presentations of M.Sc. thesis proposals on the spring school topics, testimonial sessions by PhD students, “serious games” on energy, and networking sessions with online social events and virtual “business” lunches with external stakeholders.

The Spring School was organized by Task Force 8 in Unite!, a key objective of which is to create an international Energy PhD programme across the network. On the Aalto side, Sam Cross, Manager for Aalto Networking Platform, was part of the planning committee. Sam commented “The Spring School is a first step towards the international Energy PhD programme. By showcasing the excellence across the universities, M.Sc. students gain new knowledge and insights, and are inspired to collaborate across the network. We hope that some of the participating students will take up the exciting M.Sc. thesis proposals presented at the school, and thus advance active and concrete collaboration. Our dream is that several of the participating students will be the very first “pioneer” candidates in the foreseen PhD programme!”

Si Nguyen-Ky, one of the Aalto University students who participated the spring school, is interested in the energy performance of buildings, its important role in an energy- and resource-efficient community that we are building in the near future. Si is majoring in building performance and takes a minor in advanced energy solutions (sustainable energy in buildings and built environment).

”Energy efficiency is a multidisciplinary subject, thus, attending the Spring School had helped me expose my knowledge to a broader view on other new energy solution topics, especially building related services and systems such as smart grids and energy storages. Different professors from Unite! institutions had given me ideas about how the climate conditions, available resources, political status, research and innovation cooperations affected the advancement and development of new energy solutions. To me it was very intriguing to attend the energy storage and smart grid sessions as they are of my personal interests as well as my current study (possibly in my future study too!)”, said Si.

Si found the testimonial sessions by PhD students also insightful. ”I got to know a little bit about how it is like to work in the academia so that I can better prepare for my doctoral study. The most important thing I have learnt through the school is that there is neither best solution nor one solution fit all in this field, but a good combination of all, for a more energy-efficient and a cleaner future”, Si concluded.

Iisa Ollila.jpg
Iisa Ollila studies at Aalto University Master’s programme on Advanced Energy Solutions. She is in the final stages of her studies, mostly only the diploma thesis is missing. Iisa attended the Spring School to get acquainted with the current topics and people in academic research on sustainable energy. She observed a spectrum of different values ​between students and researchers from different countries and between different disciplines. For example, German students were interested in nuclear power issues in the context of sustainable energy because they were unlikely to study nuclear power due to the impact of German energy policy.

Iisa was especially interested in the topics of smart grid and intelligent energy system, from which she learned something more. The Spring School also offered a low threshold for participation in topics that did not exactly match her own academic line.

“The online arrangements are great for a spring school. A longer lecture series can be done better from home from your own armchair. I received inspiration from the spring school and opportunities to complete a master’s degree and thesis topics. I am interested in the possibilities of Unite! and I am seriously considering at least looking for a diploma thesis topic through Unite!”, Iisa says.

Text by Suvi Lavinto (Aalto University), originally published in: