Sweden’s position as a leading country in environmental technology made it easier for me to make this choice
Rounak comes from India. He completed his undergraduate studies in Civil Engineering at the Vellore Institute of Technology, Chennai. When he is not studying, you will find him immersed in photography, writing, trekking and reading books.
Why did you choose this master’s programme at KTH?
It was quite clear to me from the get-go that I wanted to devote my life to working for the environment. I have a deep-seated love of nature and over the years I have derived a great deal of meaning from nature. I figured that the best way I could return the favour was by becoming a good engineer in order to catalyse and contribute to its healing process.
This is where KTH came into the picture. I looked at the QS university rankings for environmental studies as well as employability rankings, and KTH stood out in both the rankings. Moreover, the courses catered perfectly for my requirements and, like the cherry on the cake, Sweden’s position as a leading country in environmental technology made it easier for me to make this choice.
What are the best aspects of your programme?
KTH offers the flexibility to choose courses with the utmost freedom without being restricted by a pre-defined track. We also have the option to communicate with the programme coordinator in order to arrive at an individual study plan. Additionally, the courses in the programme range across various competence profiles and are interconnected in ways that allow students to have a fuller view of environmental problems, i.e. rather than seeing each environmental problem in isolation, students see the big picture.
Have you chosen a specialisation track in the programme? If Yes, which track and why?
Thanks to the flexibility offered by KTH, I customised a study plan that fit my requirements and career objectives. My interests as a future environmental consultant are two-fold, i.e. I am specialising in water and wastewater engineering as well as risk assessment and management. For the latter, I am focusing on completing a good mix of courses pertaining to environmental system analysis, environmental management and environmental policy-making in my master’s. I feel I can call myself a truly contemporary engineer insofar as I can academically equip myself with the skills of a technical and a social engineer.
What are your favourite courses thus far?
All the courses in the programme either teach us solutions to pre-existing environmental problems or equip us with the right skill sets to tackle the future environmental problems that can be anticipated. Although I found all the courses extremely interesting and useful, a few courses in particular left a lasting impression.
1. Water and wastewater handling: This course introduced us to the concepts of sanitary engineering and the prevalent technology therein. As a part of the course, we visited two water treatment plants and got the opportunity to carry out a literature review.
2. Natural Resources Management Tools: I look at this course as a good bridge course, which unites environmental science and policy. To support any policy, let alone controversial policies, we need scientific evidence. This can be achieved using the contemporary technological paraphernalia and large environmental databases by creating Decision Support Systems (DSS).
3. Political Economy for Environmental Planners: Engineers have a great responsibility to ensure that the society of tomorrow is sustainable. The concepts learnt through this course allow you to deconstruct flawed socio-economic, political and environmental systems and construct robust and sustainable systems.
How do studies at KTH differ from your previous studies?
The one major difference is in the relationship dynamics between the students and the professors. It is far easier to communicate with the professors without being even slightly intimidated. This promotes a better learning experience and outcomes, as well as opportunities to collaborate.
Moreover, the structure of studies at KTH provides the students with an opportunity to have a healthy work-life balance, which is something that was missing during my undergraduate studies. KTH thrives to provide an environment that is conducive for the students. For instance, I never felt I was put under any unnecessary pressure, which could have been counterproductive to my performance.
Also, the courses are far more problem-orientated compared to courses from my previous studies. We get to work on assignments that are closely related or accurately replicate real-life situations, which give us the feeling of what it would be like to work as an environmental consultant or researcher.
How is student life in Stockholm?
Stockholm, with its sustainable city charm and prolific list of universities, attracts students from all over the world, resulting in a diverse student community. Something I truly value as an Indian is diversity. I believe that diversity is really good for the soul and I personally feel that I do my best work when my soul is fulfilled. Thus, I have come to see Stockholm as my second home.
I’m awestruck by the beauty of Stockholm. You are never further than a few hundred metres from away from a park or a body of water. There is so much to explore in Stockholm that you will run out of time before running out of places to discover. And the best part is that not all the places are geo-tagged, thereby restoring the true spirit of exploration.
Also, I think the Stockholm public transport system deserves a mention. Not only is it easily accessible, it is also reliable and definitely makes commuting enjoyable.
How would you describe your time at KTH so far?
Life-changing! My life has changed so much since I arrived in Stockholm and definitely for the good. While I was sure I’d become a better engineer, I feel I am also becoming a more responsible individual with a strong value system. I feel confident that in my own way, I will at least contribute to making my corner of the world a better and more sustainable place to live in.
I’m working with the KTH Klimatstudenterna to organise a lecture series on climate action. I am also pursuing my other hobbies such as photography and writing more often now, although not at the expense of my studies. This reflects the flexibility and relaxed structure of the studies.
What do you want to do after graduating?
I am equally fascinated by the technical and policy side of environmental affairs. I therefore wish to work either at an environmental consultancy, preferably in the field of water and wastewater engineering, or at a policy think-tank as a researcher.
What would you like to say to students thinking of choosing KTH for their master’s studies?
You cannot understate the pressure of making the right choice when it comes to our future. I was also very confused before I made my choice, but looking at my decision in hindsight, I feel I made the right call. All I can say from my personal experience of the master’s programme and the city is that if you choose KTH, get ready for a life-changing experience.