This week was the last week of promotion for sustainability, focusing on the School of Engineering Sciences. As the previous week, videos featuring professors and students involved in different sustainability projects in the school were promoted on the KTH Facebook and Instagram pages. To have a student perspective on the everyday life in SCI school and how sustainability is integrated in the program, I met with my friend Helena, a second year student in Aerospace Engineering Master’s programme and board member of the KTH Outdoor Club.
Élise: Tell me Helena, why did you want to get involved in the promotion of sustainability in the SCI school?
Helena: I think it is super interesting to talk about sustainability, especially in the field of aerospace engineering, because it has so much to do with the fight against climate change and not everyone thinks that.
Élise: I guess most people relate it to flying, but it’s much more than that!
Helena: Yes, there is obviously a big part on how to make flying more sustainable by using lighter materials, improving engine efficiency, trying out new fuels, etc. But when you get into space engineering, some people don’t know that all the research about climate change would not be possible without satellite data! All the measurements are taken by satellites developed by aerospace engineers and they allow other scientists to get data about how the climate is affecting our environment, atmosphere, etc.
Élise: It’s true that it’s not the first thing we think about when hearing about aerospace.
Helena: No and it’s a shame! An other aspect that I find really inspiring is human space travel. So in the ISS (International Space Station), astronauts reuse and recycle 85% of all fluids. Since it’s so expensive to get water and materials up there, they are actually living super sustainably! It is a good model on how much improvements we could do on earth.
Élise: I never really though about this, it’s super cool and you are right, really inspiring! And so in your degree, your classes, do you talk about sustainability?
Helena: Yes, so much. I think it has to do with the fact that we are in Sweden, because it’s definitely put forward right from the first semester, and all projects are under the umbrella of sustainability. For example, in my first semester we had to calculate the emissions of a long-haul flight and suggest solutions to reduce those emissions; this semester we also had a project about capturing space debris. We obviously learn the basics in terms of physics, aerodynamics, etc but then the projects are in the context of sustainability.
Élise: There are also some super inspiring professors if I’m right?
Helena: Haha yes! So I met with Christer Fuglesang for this week’s promotion video, he is a professor in my programme but he is also the first Swedish astronaut to go into space! It is super nice to be able to have access to inspiring people like him in a school setting, plus he is currently working on a proof of concept of some shading satellites projects. It’s really cool and also very motivating to have such great professors who are interested in developing crazy ideas, but who are also very accessible and ready to listen to student’s ideas and inputs. So I definitely recommend students to come study here, it’s a great place to learn and be in a motivating environment!
I think Helena really put her finger on what makes KTH, and more specifically SCI school, special. If you have missed the webinar, you can always go back and watch it here. Whatever the program you choose, you can find a way to make it your own, especially when it comes to sustainability.
This is what wraps-up the sustainability month! If you’ve enjoyed reading the interviews, let me know since I might continue doing them in January, but focusing more on life after your studies at KTH 🙂