EECS Sustainability Week recap

This week, the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science was showcased on KTH’s platforms to promote the sustainability projects that are happening there. To get to understand how sustainability is implemented in the program, I met with Gabriel, a passionate second year Electrical Power Engineering student from Brazil, who was patient enough to explain everything about electrical engineering to the clueless mechanical engineer that I am.

Élise: Hej Gabriel, you are really close to finishing up your degree, and you actually already started your thesis right?

Gabriel: Yes, my thesis is with the company ABB, and I basically got the thesis after working for them last summer. Now not only did I get experience this summer, but it landed me a thesis project and even a job! The thesis is about managing faults in distribution systems, like power transmission lines, so my job is about operating the breakers of such systems, in order to improve reliability of transmission lines.

Élise: It’s a very applied project, which can impact actual power systems!

Gabriel: The thesis actually comes from a problem they had in Norway, where the whole system was overloaded when two faults occurred, so it’s a very real problem that needs a solution! It’s really cool to work on a project that can have a meaningful impact. Such solutions can really help improve the reliability of transmission systems, not only in centralized grids but also in de-centralized power systems which rely on renewables, which are becoming more and more popular in emerging countries. So I guess this project will have an impact in sustainability, even if my day-to-day work is not necessarily related. That is very typical of electrical engineering, where the engineer’s work is very technical, but in the end it may be related to sustainable projects, like wind-turbine generators, transmission lines in offshore wind farms, etc.

Élise: I guess in the end we need many different people with many different expertise to overcome climate change and we need people like you to be part of the solution.

Gabriel: We are approaching this problem from our perspective, which is technology development. For example, there is this huge wind farm that is being built, and my friends and I were talking about how they are going to connect this wind offshore to the land, and this connection is HVDC, a new type of connection which is very promising and might be implemented in other projects too. So we are seeing this sustainability project from our point of view, using the knowledge that we have.

Élise: So what’s you view on sustainability, how do you see this, from the perspective of an electrical engineer?

Gabriel: I think what’s missing from the conversation sometimes is the technology implementation, like the how of the solution. For example, everyone says we should drive more electrical cars, yes, but first the grid is not adapted to the load, you have to install chargers in crowded cities, you have to ensure the stability of the system. I also think efficiency is going to increase so much that it’s going to enable bigger potential for power generation and decrease the need for backup generation and I think as an electrical engineer I can play a part in that.

Élise: And are you aware of any projects going on at EECS school that are related to this?

Gabriel: Yes there is a lot of research in the department related to the stability of the system. I also had a class in which we had to analyse the impact of an increase of capacity of a wind farm, and another one related to systems stability and reliability. There are also classes on battery design that are offered if you are more interested in power storage. More and more, class projects and research are aimed at developing different solutions to integrate different systems, including climate change mitigating projects, so I guess in the end we do have a lot of projects related to sustainability!

My discussion with Gabriel, which was supposed to be a short interview, was so interesting we actually ended up talking for one hour, so it’s clear he is passionate about what he does, and definitely eager to being part of the solution concerning climate change. You can learn more about the different programs in EECS school and how they integrate sustainability, I suggest watching this week’s webinar! Next week will be all about ITM school (which me and Vivek are part of!), so stay tuned 🙂

Career after Graduation

KTH has been ranked 58th on Global university employability ranking. It means that the graduates from KTH are more eligible to take up professional roles in companies or entrepreneurial enough to create their own company. It means that recruiters think that these are the best universities which are preparing students for their workspace. It is always a ray of hope when you see your university featured among the top employable in the world and ranked number one in Sweden. Although, I can see a few of my seniors finding it hard to get a job and most of them working in great jobs, we students still have some anxiety when it comes to finding one. And unlike in India where companies come to our universities and offer us interviews, in Sweden, it all boils down to the networks we have developed, our technical competencies and to a small extent our fluency in Swedish. 

I can see a lot of efforts being taken by the departments at KTH to prepare students professionally and enhance their skills and competencies. Here are a few examples which I have personally experienced  so far:

  1. Few of our subjects are either formulated or handled by companies. The lectures are delivered by employees of that company. For example, Product Modularization is being taken up by Module management – A Swedish consultancy company. Scania offers internal combustion engines and hybrid vehicle drives to vehicle engineering students. Thus, we get to learn and understand the current requirements and practices of the company. 
  2. Even in courses which are handled by KTH faculty, there are few guest lectures where in the people from industries were invited to deliver the content. We have had lectures from Anders Johanson – CTO of Husqvarna, and lectures from companies such as Ericcson, Getinge, Assa Abloy.
  3. Most of the professors also consult with industries or work with external companies. I feel that their mode of instruction is quite interesting when they take up cases from their industrial experiences and deliver the syllabus content using industrial context.
  4. KTH has collaborated with various companies in carrying out funded projects. Thus the students can be part of such projects and gain insights about their respective industries. 
  5. KTH has an incubation centre at KTH Innovation where student’s and researcher’s ideas are nurtured. I have interacted with a few amazing startups who were part of KTH innovation and are now working full time in taking their ideas to the next step. 
  6. KTH has a career support office which offers lunch lectures, seminars on improving your soft skills, career planning and career path. You could also drop in at their office at a fixed time to get critical feedback on your CV and cover letter. You can find them here

With the above examples illustrating how KTH is striving to give quality education, Ultimately, it squares down to how we as individuals are exploiting the opportunities in the campus to build our skills and network.   

Happy learning!

THS Armada: a job hunting frenzy

Today was the first day of the biggest student-led career fair in Scandinavia. Two intense days where companies and organisations set up their booth in different locations on the main campus and students go around trying to find the perfect match for their summer internships or job after graduation.

If you’ve been to a career fair before, you know the drill: you bring a pile of CVs, your best smile and you go around trying to get noticed by a company, hoping they will take your application into account. It can be stressful, you have to sell yourself (which is not the most fun thing to do) and navigate through the chaos with a smile on your face. You may wonder why are we even putting ourselves through this, but the fact is, it’s actually helpful. Talking to an actual human being and not filling out another online application can really help you get a foot in the door and have a better grasp of what the company and the culture is about. It’s a chance to practice introducing yourself as a professional and you might even land a job with it, so in my opinion it’s a win-win!

THS Armada takes place for two days every year, and this year 174 companies are attending. It is a very important event for them too, since they have access to many students from all around Scandinavia (yes, many people travel to attend, so we are lucky it’s on our own campus!). It takes place in the Bibliotek, at KTH Entré and in Nymble, the student union building, and it’s free to attend for everyone, not only students.

Sustainability and diversity are the two core-values of the fair, thus there are special rooms where companies that particularly exhibit those values are grouped together: the Green Room, for sustainability, and the Diversity Room.

Many companies offer positions for summer internships, master’s thesis, permanent and part-time jobs. Even if you are not looking for anything right now, I suggest going around, to learn about companies that may interest you for future position, practice your networking skills and collect lots of free goodies (if you’ve been wanting a reusable water bottle, it’s your chance!).

I wish everyone good luck on their job/internship/thesis hunting journey, and to help you out, here are my *~tips~* for a successful career fair experience:

  • Do your homework: I suggest preparing before the actual event, so you can make the most of it. Look at the companies that will attend and choose a couple that you are really interested in. Get info on those companies so you can ask meaningful questions to the representatives. Remember: they are spending two whole days in a crowded room so they will appreciate someone who will ask a different question than the rest.
  • Relax: Try not to think of it as a competition between students to get a job, but rather as a competition between companies to get you! Be yourself and know the assets you want to show off, but don’t overthink it either. If you don’t end up landing a job, think of it as experience and practice!
  • Have fun: I know my most successful interviews/networking events were when I didn’t even talk about the job. Sometimes you’ll find a representative that has the same interests as you, and you’ll have a great talk, which they will remember. They are human too and they are also there to look for people who will fit in the company personality-wise, so don’t hesitate to show your true colors!

Surviving the Sauce Rampage!

It was the first meeting of the Digital ambassador program and as usual, it’s not a meeting if there is no Fika. The food had meat which I didn’t prefer to eat and I thought of taking it back to one of my corridor mates. As luck and kindness could have it, the sauce had spilled and was all over my laptop back and I thought probably into my laptop too which wasn’t even a month old. An aroma which seemed delicious became a stench which makes me regret not having covered the food box. 
I have been this clumsy before and knew exactly what to do. I kept my laptop in the bag of rice overnight to absorb the moisture. The following morning I started the laptop and the screen flickered a bit which freaked me out. I immediately searched for a laptop service centre and found one in Odenplan. I was there as they were opening their shop. 
The system here is that you have to pay for diagnostics and repair separately. A normal diagnostics would cost 400sek and take a week, while an express diagnostics will be done in 2 days costing 700 sek. I chose the express diagnostics since my project deadlines demanded my laptop. 
I waited anxiously for their call and I called them up twice and thrice to see if there were any updates. I finally received their call. “Your motherboard is spoilt. We ask you not to switch on your Laptop and recommend you to buy a new one”.
I gathered all my thoughts and collected the laptop after paying 700 sek. I went to my friends’ place, opened up all the parts and cleaned it with a cloth and dried it. Mumbling prayers, we switched it on and its been two months since the disaster, the laptop works just fine. 
Lesson learnt:
• I always carry my tiffin box with a plastic bag and sometimes two.
• Indian Jugaad skills will come to help even if you move far away from home.
• I was proud of how I handled the situation without freaking out and overthinking and weighing the possibilities in case of the worst scenario coming true. 
• Try to get insurance for your laptop.

CBH Sustainability Week recap

This week was the second sustainability, focused on the School of Engineering Sciences in Chemistry, Biotechnology and Health. You can have a look on the Facebook and Instagram pages to access the content created by the students! Like last week, I asked a student from the CBH school to talk about their experience here at KTH.

This week’s interview is with Osheen, a second year student in biomedical engineering.

Élise: Hey Osheen, thanks for agreeing to talk about your program. Can you tell me a little bit about your story and how you ended up studying at KTH in medical engineering?

Osheen: I am from India, and there healthcare is not so good and there is a lot of room for improvement. My father also told me that says every field could experience recessions, except the medical domain. This was the main reason for my choice to pursue my bachelors degree in biomedical engineering. I really like the combination of engineering and medicine and how we, as engineers can contribute to the society and improve the healthcare system. I completed my bachelors from India and decided to pursue my masters in the same domain and explore more in the field. I decided to come to Sweden as it’s one of the most innovative countries in the world. Apart from that it’s also one of the most safest countries and its really beautiful.

Élise: That is so cool! And through this path, how did you start getting involved in sustainability projects?

Osheen: I think sustainability is the need to be able to meet future needs and improve health and quality of life for a better tomorrow. Sweden is the world’s most sustainable country and is constantly making efforts to improve more and more in terms of environment, healthcare, equality etc. I personally like the UN’s sustainability goals which aim for equality among
individuals, diversity, constant efforts to make healthcare better, quality education, etc. They are very important for society and hence I am investing my time here at KTH to contribute towards the fulfillment of these goals.

Élise: And are there any ways for students in the CBH school to participate in the achievement of these goals?

Osheen: Yes, in the Medical Engineering department students have classes on things such as the e-healthcare and ergonomics and sustainability. Apart from courses there are lots of workshops and seminars taking place which give chance to the students to be aware and also participate in the sustainable development.

Élise: That looks really cool and multi-disciplinary! Finally, would you have any last words for future students?

Osheen: I would say KTH is a great university and it collaborates with some really good companies and international universities for research projects, for example. It gives the students a platform to learn and explore in the field while having a very flexible and multi-disciplinary course structure. You can learn different new things and if you are creative then can always implement your knowledge and build something new which can be useful for the industries and society. Here, the students and professors share a very friendly relation which facilitates the learning process. I am really happy with my decision of pursuing my masters in KTH and I would say if you make this decision, you won’t regret it either 🙂

I think Osheen is definitely passionate about what she does, and KTH helped her tap into that passion. If you want to learn more about CBH school and missed the seminar, you can watch it again here. Stay tuned for next week, which will focus on the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science!

Roadtrip across the German Alps

The exam season was finally done and a well-deserved trip was on the list. Where better than a journey to the Alps to reflect on life so far and strategise on the future. We decided on visiting Prague and drive to Konigsee in Germany. Staying in Sweden means you could visit other EU countries without the need for a separate visa. And as tacit as it can get, student’s life implies budgetary constrains on travelling and spending. As a person who is used to staying in tents, hostels and hitchhiking, Europe seems to be on the higher side of the budget. Although the good news is that with meticulous planning, you could cut down costs to a larger extent. 

Our first city to visit was the beautiful capital city Prague. The first thing I loved about this city was the weather. After staying in Stockholm for 3 months (mind you winter hadn’t even started yet), it felt like moving out of a freezer into a warm hallway. The first night in the city was quite memorable. The city was peaceful and silent as we roamed through the corners of the city admiring the bridges, cobblestoned streets, architecture and the beer at the beer museum. The following day we visited Charles bridge, Prague Orloj (The oldest operating clock) and spend the rest of the day roaming around the beautiful city before boarding a bus to Munich.
Bus from Stockholm to Skavsta: 150 sek
Flight from Skavsta to Prague is: 100 sek 
Hostel for the night: 100 sek
Food cost in Prague: 120 sek

24-hour travel ticket: 48 sek
Bus from Prague to Munich: 64 sek 

We reached Munich early in the morning and rented a car for the remaining three days. We then drove to Konigsee. A beautiful sleeping town in the German Alps surrounded by lakes, waterfalls and mountains. A perfect place to experience nature and indulge in adventurous activities. We went on a boat ride on the Konigsee lake. The lake is surrounded by mountains and provides picturesque moments throughout the ride.
Car rental cost for 3 days: 900 sek for three people = 300 sek
Insurance for car for 3 days: 690 sek for three people = 230 sek
Hostel for 2 nights: 577 sek

Food Cost: 150 sek
Boat ride cost: 170 sek
Misc: 116 sek

The following day was rainy which made the terrain even more mesmerizing. We visited Hintersee lake about 10kms from the hostel. The water was so clear that we could easily see the bottom of the lake. It reminded me of the Dwaki in India which I always wanted to visit. The mountains around can capture and keep you occupied for a long time if you just let it. We then hiked to a Wimbackhlamm which had multiple waterfalls along a running stream. The view seemed like a scene right out of heaven. Since the winter had just begun, it started getting dark quite soon and we had to drive back to the hostel. To be honest, both the hostel in Prague and Konigsee seemed to lack the backpackers’ vibe, probably because we went there in an offseason or probably the hostels in India had raised my expectations. 
Food: 150 sek
Miscellaneous: 100 sek

Day 4: 
The final day was meant for a big trek since the weather was predicted to be sunny unlike the last two days and the sun was out in all its glory. The clouds had cleared its way and we could enjoy the panoramic view of the landscape. We started our trek from Konigsee city centre and lost of the way in the middle and ended up at Rabenwand, which was a perfect place to enjoy solitude with a view of the lake at the mountains together. We then hiked down to the lake and back to the city. An end to an amazing experience among the German Alps. We drove back to Munich. The interesting thing about car rentals in Munich is that all the car rental companies have set up a common car collection centre at Munich airport. This made it easy for us to leave the car and directly head to our flight back to Stockholm.
Food: 150 sek
Flight back from Munich to Stockholm: 680 sek
Bus from Stockholm airport to Tcentralen: 120 sek

Tips for Traveller:
• Booking flight tickets early helps. We got the tickets to Prague for 100 sek. Although we had to use the airport at Skvasta which cost us 150 sek to reach the airport.
• Prague and Konigsee have Mcdonalds where we could find burgers at affordable prices.
• The public transport in Prague is great. You could buy at 48 sek. And most of the places are walkable.
• However, the public transport at Konigsee is unreliable and not all the places are at walking distance.