With the development of viable and economically sound sustainable energy resources a forefront global issue, several U of A mechanical engineering students are spending the summer in Germany learning about an international approach to energy technologies and solutions.
The students spent five weeks earlier this summer attending an international program on sustainable energy technologies at the prestigious Technical University of Freiberg, with most students electing to work at energy-related co-op placements at German companies following the completion of the Freiberg program.
“Sustainable energy is of great interest to me, and being able to study it in a country that has some of the most advanced technology felt like a perfect co-op term,” said mechanical engineering co-op student Dave Martin.
“The opportunity means a chance to study energy techniques not common to Canada, to see things I haven’t seen before, to experience international school and how it differs from Canada, and to meet some pretty cool people who have an entirely different culture than what I’m used to,” said Martin.
Martin is currently working on solar thermal and biogas projects while on a co-op placement at Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems, which specializes in renewable solar energy research.
“This experience has broadened my view regarding the type of work available for engineers in the field of renewable energy,” he said.
“It is a fascinating subject, and getting the chance to see more of it up close has allowed sustainable energy technology to be more of an option for a professional career for me than before.”
Fellow student Tezla Hayduk stayed on at the Technical University of Freiberg after the program ended and is now completing a co-op at the school. Hayduk, who is helping with experiments and designing a condenser for an experimental plant, said the experience brings her closer to her goal of working within Alberta’s renewable energy division.
“Now I can bring an even more unique outlook to the table and help our beautiful province expand its resources,” she said, adding her career goals include working on a wind farm and designing her own wind turbine.
“Sustainable energy technology is important because the world’s energy use grows exponentially, and in order to support future development we have to look at multiple sustainable sources,” she said.
“I think it is very important that energy production methods that create less pollution be studied and further developed,” added fellow mechanical engineering co-op student Lauren Brunet.
“I find renewable energy technologies involved in harnessing sun, wind, and hydro energy to be very intriguing and I hope to see these technologies implemented on a larger scale in Canada,” said Brunet, who previously completed a co-op term at Enbridge’s Green Energy division.
“Ever since my co-op placement I have been interested in pursuing a career in renewable energy and attending this course has further encouraged me to pursue this field. I believe there is a lot of potential for growth in this industry in Alberta and Canada,” she said.
Student Michael McKinnon, whose co-op placement involves working on a solar thermal and biogas project at e.terras AG in Munich, said his dream is to work in the field of sustainable energy technology. “My goal is to develop renewable energy systems to benefit the environment and make a difference; this is the reason I went into engineering.”
“I am particularly interested in wind and hydro energy, but after the course I found a new respect for solar thermal energy,” he continued. “This experience has definitely contributed to my career and life goals.”