Evan Riley, from U.S.A.
"I wanted to study Solar Energy as I knew I wanted to get an education that would give me the competitive edge in the burgeoning solar industry and couldn’t find that education opportunity in North America. So I googled available options and found ESES, and schools in Germany and Australia that fit my interests. In the end I selected ESES due to its history, its great website, the responsiveness of the people I contacted there and the curriculum that was clearly communicated on the website.
The program at Dalarna University provided a great foundation from which multiple career paths could be taken. I found that the course work was very independent: e.g., you could make as much or as little out of the experience as you wished. My professors were the best part of the program - specifically Tara Kampal’s class on the economics of solar PV and Frank Fiedler’s class on PV system design.
I would recommend this program to people who are interested in the project implementation side of solar photovoltaics and people who are interested in a broader view of photovoltaics before they decide on a niche for a PhD. I would not be where I am today without the education I received from DU and ESES. I learned skills at DU and ESES that I use on the job every day. From time to time I even reference my old text books that live on my work desk.
The best thing about Sweden was the culture. It is so different from the culture of the United States. My experience of Swedish culture was that being a member of society means something completely different there than it does in the United States. In Sweden people are appreciated equally for the value they contribute to society regardless of their career; whether they are a laborer, a banker or an engineer, everyone is appreciated for their contribution. I found this in the teaching, the testing, the social scene and even the language. The whole experience was refreshing."
Maria-Elena Cantos, from Spain
"So far, I am really satisfied with the content of the program. It is a program applied to reality, which I guess will help and make it easy for the student to enter the professional field after graduation. What I mean is that this program reduces the gap between theory (at the university) and its application (in a future job). Most universities do not offer such applied programs, and this makes it difficult for the professional "start-up" of the students.
However, I find sometimes that it is quite difficult to cope with all the tasks and activities of the program. The workload is on occasion high (seminars, reports, groupwork, exams and lectures at the same time). If I had to recommend a Solar Energy Program to someone, I would definitely recommend the ESES program. The way it links theory to practice is BRILLIANT, and it is a luxury to have good and real professionals as lecturers (lectures by Tara "Solarquake" are really amazing due to his extremely hardworking spirit)."
Laszlo Csany, from Hungary
"Laszlo Csanyi is the Construction & Asset Management Manager at Fotowatio Renewable Ventures (FRV), Australia. He was awarded an Erasmus Scholarship to ESES in 2006. After his graduation from ESES with an MSc degree, Laszlo was offered a Junior Design Engineering position at Solarcentury in London. After three years of working at Solarcentury as a design engineer, Laszlo decided it was time for a change and moved to Sydney, Australia. Post relocating to Australia, he soon started managing the engineering department as chief engineer of a medium-sized solar company with specialisation in commercial PV systems. During this time, he was awarded two Clean Energy Council best design and installation awards: one of the awards was for the installation on the Parliament House of Australia in Canberra.
Laszlo is currently employed by FRV in Sydney and is involved in the second largest solar PV installation in Australia under construction.
I look back at my times with ESES with great fondness. I made many friends and learnt all the basics and some of the most exciting science of solar energy engineering which helped me to start my career in the solar PV industry. During the same time as writing my thesis, I contributed to building ESES’ first solar-powered boat and to forming the team that participated in the Frisian Solar Boat Challenge in Friesland, which was a truly exciting project.
The knowledge of the technology, the usage of PVSYST and other software and other skills that I acquired at ESES were invaluable in building the foundations of my career in this exciting industry. While in my current position I am focusing on the construction practices of large-scale solar farms, in certain aspects, I am still relying on the experience I acquired at ESES."
Simon Caron, from France
"My path from an engineering education to a research position in Solar Energy is itself a journey through Europe, spreading from 2009 to 2012.
Starting with a classical background in mechanical engineering with a focus on Quality Assurance and Applied Statistics, I did not see myself working inside a “traditional” industry such as the automotive one, and I decided to move to Renewable Energies at the end of my first engineering degree in France.
After organizing a month-long journey across Germany with other students to discover the renewable energy sector, I had the opportunity to write my diploma thesis and work as a junior research assistant for a one year period at the largest European research institute in the field of solar energy: the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems in Freiburg in Breisgau, Germany.
This first research experience helped me to confirm my pronounced interest for experimental science and modeling as well as my passion for solar energy systems. After conducting experiments on lithium ion batteries for one year, I decided to upgrade my profile by joining the one year ESES program in 2010 in order to gain a system perspective, for both electrical and thermal solar systems.
After six months of intensive studies, I had the opportunity to write my master thesis at the Plataforma Solar de Almeria (PSA) thanks to a training agreement between ESES and the Spanish research agency CIEMAT. The PSA is the largest European Research Facility for Concentrated Solar Power Technology. I had the chance to gain further research experience on the accelerated ageing of silvered mirrors under sandstorm conditions and to present the results at a poster session during the SolarPACES conference in Granada, Spain in 2011.
Following the ESES thesis presentation and a short break in France, I was offered a position as a research scientist at the German Aerospace Center Institute of Solar Research in 2012 … for a comeback in Almeria, Spain! I have been working there since then on the development of a field non-destructive testing method based on infrared thermography for the thermal characterization of Parabolic Trough Receivers. Looking at the future, I hope to benefit from this more extensive research experience to start a PhD in 2015 and develop a set of innovative measurement methods which are in the process of being patented.
Feedback / ESES Program
The decision to select the ESES program from an ever increasing competitive selection of master's level studies was based on a set of criteria.
The first criterium was the content of the curriculum, which clearly offers a mixed balance between electrical and thermal solar energy systems, while giving a background for techno-economical analyses and other renewable energy technologies. The second criterium was the inclusion of design projects and relevant softwares (PVSYST/POLYSUN/RetScreen/HOMER/NREL SAM), which guarantees a first exposure to system design choices as well as basic modelization, while giving the possibility to apply the knowledge gained during the more fundamental courses. The third criterium was the size and international profile of the student classroom, which fosters intercultural exchange, social interactions and networking for future professional opportunities.
Last but not least, the one-year tailored program and the absence of tuition fees for European citizens were key to my decision to start the adventure and move to the heart of Sweden during the cold winter to learn the basics of solar energy engineering.
Looking back at the ESES experience, I am very happy to have made the decision to join this program a few years ago. I am aware that the teaching staff strive to improve this program to deliver a high-quality education in Solar Energy Engineering both for professionals and researchers.
I was very impressed by the modern Swedish education system, including the broad selection of online courses still available after the master's program, the accessibilty to the ESES teaching staff, the progressive recognition of competences in the evaluation system and the financial support of students regardless of their nationality under the Erasmus Framework for master's-level thesis projects carried out in Europe, outside of Sweden."