I quickly realised that Orkney was certainly one of the best places to study renewable energies.
Axel Bondoux, MSc RED.
Being a 4th-year student at Arts & Métiers ParisTech, a French engineering school, which have provided me a general engineering background, with a strong specialisation on mechanical and industrial engineering, I wanted to specialise on marine renewable energies. Through a partnership between Arts & Métiers ParisTech and Heriot-Watt, I managed to follow the RED MSc as my final year of engineering studies/school.
I quickly realised that Orkney was certainly one of the best places to study renewable energies. To me, the Orkney campus gathers the optimal conditions to ensure students to succeed. The staff/students relationships are just amazing! From the first day, students are so close to the staff (lecturers, researchers and administration) that it creates a familial and friendly atmosphere, ideal to bring confidence, comfort and good working conditions to the students. The lectures provide a high-standard knowledge about every aspect of renewables. Coming from a technical background, I have enjoyed Colin's lectures about renewables technologies but I have also been surprisingly very interested by Sandy's economics module and Jon's policy and risk course, which have provided me very important knowledge about some unknown and unexpected non-technical aspects of renewable energies.
However, in spite of all these great studying aspects, for me, the greatest thing of Orkney is the closeness with industrials, involved in the renewables sector and especially in marine renewable energies, and the ease to get in touch with them. Indeed, being a developed wave and tidal testing site thanks to EMEC, the Orkney campus is literally encompassed by companies. Then, either professionally, through field trips organised by the university or conferences organised by industrials, or extra-professionally, through sport for example, it is really easy and quick to get professional relationships and build a strong network in the renewables sector. Thanks to that, I managed to do my dissertation project in collaboration with Scotrenewables Tidal Power Limited, a local tidal turbine developer, for whom I am now working.
The knowledge and abilities gained in MSc RED have allowed me to participate in projects that I would not have taken in the past
Sebastiano Giardinella, MSc RED (DL).
Having a background in the non-renewables sector, I wanted to pursue a Master's Degree in renewable energy, but could not leave the engineering company I started in Latin America.
I chose MSc RED (distance learning) because it offered the best value for: programme content, flexibility, staff, University ranking, and also combined the experience gained in one of the most important renewable energy sites in the world.
After completing the programme, I know I made the right choice: the course materials were clear and compiled a vast array of literature, project data and practical examples; the Blackboard Academic Suite and e-library allowed to download additional information in a convenient manner; the staff was very helpful; the exams were adequate and could be scheduled in different countries, allowing me to match them with my business trips. The knowledge and abilities gained in MSc RED have allowed me to participate in projects that I would not have taken in the past, and to consider a wider scope of alternatives, such as integrating renewable energy into oil production.
If you are interested in pursuing a Master's Degree in renewable energy, but cannot leave work or travel abroad, then I strongly recommend the MSc RED distance learning programme.
I wouldn't have been able to make the move into renewables, mid career, had it not been for this MSc
David Lewis, MSc RED (DL).
In 2010, in my early 40s, I had completed 20 years in the executive training sector. However, I decided I wanted to do something else for the next 20 years and had always been interested in energy.
With a full-time job and family, it was impossible to take a 1-year Masters, so I chose the Heriot-Watt distance learning MSc in Renewable Energy Development. This programme is extremely flexible, allowing you to learn and take modules at your own pace. You have several years to complete all the modules, so there isn't too much time pressure, ideal for busy people.
The content of the MSc is excellent. You cover the whole of the energy industry – including oil, gas and nuclear – so you can see where renewables fit into the wider energy world. The degree includes elements of maths, physics, economics, general science, philosophy, environmental science, law, project management, financing, etc. So there's never a dull moment and it's a stimulating ride from one subject area to another.
Towards the end of the degree, I managed to get a job as MD of SunSmart Energy Ltd, a solar PV design and installation company. I was given the position for two reasons:
- my transferable, generic business skills, plus
- my industry specific knowledge gained on the MSc.
I wouldn't therefore have been able to make the move into renewables, mid career, had it not been for this MSc and my thanks go to the entire Orkney team - professors and administrative staff alike – for their dedication, support and superb course design.
I have managed to get a job in the industry due to the work on the course...
Ian Johnston, MSc RED (DL).
Distance learning has been a great experience for me. I am somewhat of a mature student at 51 and have been able to fit the course work around a full time job. It is not always easy as there are always conflicts with this type of learning but the staff at ICIT is very accommodating and gives a high level of access to the students which really helps. Although still working on my final dissertation I have managed to get a job in the industry due to the work on the course and have used the materials within the course on a number of occasions so far which shows it is relevant and up to date. I have a slight advantage living in Orkney but I am sure the experience would be as valuable to anybody who wants to study and still has to work.
For me [one of] the best things about the course [was] the close contact with the lecturers.
Peter Hume, MSc RED.
The choice to study RED at ICIT was easy due to the course's reputation and the location - something completely different to my undergraduate degree at a major university.
For me the best things about the course were the close contact with the lecturers - the barrier between students and staff is much smaller than I have experienced elsewhere - and the lifestyle offered by Stromness. If you like surfing or kite surfing, coastal walks, or island hopping, there's nowhere better. Even the Northern Lights made an appearance!
Yes, the course is hard work, but not as hard as I was expecting - everyone gets it done. I chose to specialise in biomass and, while its early days still, I am hopeful that the industry will take off.
I am currently working for a consultancy and project management firm in Aberdeenshire. Although it's mainly wind turbines at present, I will be responsible for helping the company expand into the biomass market. Jon's EIA assignment, Sandy's economics lectures and Colin's lectures on synchronous versus asynchronous generators have all been useful already, and there aren't many courses that would cover all that.
Orkney is the ideal place to witness the advancement of renewable energy industry.
Peter Haughie, MSc RED.
Choosing to study in Orkney was about gaining a unique experience of the renewables sector but also living in a completely new place. Orkney is the ideal place to witness the advancement of renewable energy industry and has provided practical experience to take into the workplace.
Away from studying, living in Orkney was fantastic; the class throws together a group of people all looking to try something new and was great fun. There are always opportunities to get involved in the local scene either through sports, local groups and clubs or just in the pub!
On leaving Orkney I started working for the EDP Renewables working on the Moray Firth offshore wind farm for which my studies inform a large part of what I do.
Orkney and the RED MSc 2010-2011 has definitely been one of the best and memorable years so far and I will always miss it.
Andrew Lauder, MSc RED.
Coming from Glasgow, Orkney definitely was a change in scenery. After deciding I wanted to get into the renewable industry, I could see the RED MSc was one of the best out there. So I took the plunge and moved to Orkney which admittedly was a bit of a scary thought.
As soon as I stepped off of the ferry however I loved every minute of being on that island. The course itself was terrific and the people even better. The ICIT is unlike any other learning experience I have encountered and undoubtedly the best.
The RED course certainly helped to prepare and fast track me into a good position within the industry. I am currently working for a small renewable energy company which is involved in most of the major technologies as a consultant.
My short stint in Orkney has not only given me a great qualification and contacts, more importantly it has given me lifelong friends. My advice is to just enjoy every minute of it and take in as much of the island life as you can.
The highest risk with the greatest rewards!
Camilla Staunton, MSc RED.
Speaking from a previous financial background my Orkney experience has been “The highest risk with the greatest rewards!”
While studying my MSc in RED myself and 4 other students set up a company which can be viewed at www.credogreen.com. The business changed somewhat and the initial team has dispersed to various places around the globe. I now have an office in Stromness with 8 turbines up and operational by next month. Currently I am also working on a feasibility to encourage electric car transportation in Orkney via a private car hire scheme.
The opportunity and learning facilities offered at Orkney campus are completely unique. The lecturers have been encouraging both in learning and entrepreneurialism. This has been highlighted by the amount of renewable companies that have been set up and are running profitably on the island today.
The hands on experience with both the developers and devices have meant that we became part of the renewable world from island touchdown. Orkney really is the epicenter of the renewable world, an enchanting place to live, and a first class educational facility. I would and do encourage anyone to come here, it is an experience that you could never regret.
If you are thinking of bringing family, you need have no fears about them settling in here.
John Watson, MSc RED.
There are many reasons for recommending postgraduate study at ICIT, but the quality of the teaching, the breadth of the course and its location in a “world capital” of renewable energy, stand out as key differentiators. The coursework comes thick and fast, combining individual assignments with group-based projects. Interspersing these are numerous field trips and guest presentations from people working in the industry, many of whom are ICIT alumni. All of these teaching modes were “big learns” at the time, but it is only now, with the benefit of hindsight, that I fully appreciate how well the course prepared me for entering the industry.
If you are thinking of bringing family, you need have no fears about them settling in here. The locals are welcoming and it's an incredibly child-friendly, family orientated place. As long as you secure accommodation with central heating and double glazing, they'll have a great time here too!
I am still living and working in Orkney, I got my job working with Orkney Sustainable Fisheries Ltd when I was writing my dissertation and have now been employed full time as a shellfish co-ordinator.
Kate Walker, MSc MRM.
Choosing to do my masters degree at ICIT is one of the best decisions I have ever made, not only is Orkney a fantastic place to live but the Old Academy gives you all the facilities that you would want from a university, with the added bonus of all being under the same roof. And I think it would be hard to find a University with a better view from its classroom windows! The course can be intensive but I think that is good as it pushes you to work hard and get the most out of the course material.
One of the best things about Orkney is that you very quickly feel part of the community and that you have lived here all your life. There is so much to see and do with various music festivals throughout the year and as much historic culture that anyone could ever ask for. The nightlife in Orkney is good fun and you very quickly fall into a routine of doing the "rounds" of all of the pubs in Stromness. My fellow class mates and I were a regular feature in the pubs and had some amazing times playing pool and finding random songs to play on the jukebox.
I am still living and working in Orkney, I got my job working with Orkney Sustainable Fisheries Ltd when I was writing my dissertation and have now been employed full time as a shellfish co-ordinator. I collect data on the fishery which is used by the Scottish Government in their assessment of fish stocks and I also run the local lobster hatchery which raises juvenile lobsters from egg to a size that we can put them back in the sea, enhancing the population.
I am still working closely with ICIT and have had the opportunity to work with EMEC on a project. My time studying at ICIT gave me the opportunities to meet people and become involved in the fishing industry.