Why did you choose this course?
I decided to read the MSc Renewable Energy and Resource Management because there is an increasing need for alternative fuel as well as alternative energy, which are renewable as well as carbon neutral. As global temperature rises and the climatic change effect is becoming more of a reality than merely hypothetical, it drives the need for a shift from dirty fossil fuel toward an environmentally cleaner alternative. This course covers all types of renewable energy such as solar, wind, hydro, wave, tidal, geothermal, Hydrogen as well as converting everyday waste into energy. The course also touches on the sustainability of these technologies and the impacts it offers in terms of efficiency, cost, investment, ability for the supply to cope with demand, and most importantly the positive environmental benefits. These are but some reasons why I choose to read this course.
Why the University of South Wales?
I choose to study at the University of South Wales mainly because it is the only university in UK which offers an MSc in Renewable Energy at the same time coupling it with Resource Management. As a chemical engineer and an environmental activist, this came across to me as hitting two birds with one stone. The other reason is the fact that SERC is an internationally recognized research centre where it has a pool of world class staff under its wings. These same people are the lecturers running and teaching the MSc course. What better way to learn something right from the source. The SERC and Hydrogen Centre research facilities for this course are excellent and there are many partnerships and collaborations with the industry, other academic bodies, private ownerships and most importantly governments and unions. Good facilities, strong partnerships, diverse research and a group of world class academic staff are the reasons why I choose to study at USW. Moving a little bit away from academic reasons, the staff and people who work at USW are extremely friendly and helpful. I have had several personal problems and the HESAS Advice Shop staff were extremely over the top helpful. They were genuinely concerned for my wellbeing and went the extra mile to mitigate and resolve my problems. Talking from experience being an international student, I have had the opportunity to experience the sincerity and humbleness of the academic and support staff at HESAS, and I am more than satisfied with the services being offered to me as a support mechanism for students like myself. The Welsh charm is something you have to experience in order to appreciate it. As a science student now, being able to fly an aircraft as well as learn a few chiropractic moves are plus points for me personally.
What’s been the most exciting part of the course so far?
As mentioned previously, SERC has strong ties with the industry and many other bodies, and this allows us to experience real life the technologies we learn in class. We’ve had many site visits where we had the opportunity to go into wind turbines and look at how it is being run from the inside; we were brought to the Aberthaw Centre for Energy and the Environment (ACE2) where we learned how power was generated by co-firing with renewable feedstocks; we visited water companies where energy recovery was a part of the cleaning and upgrading process of effluent going out to the environment; and we were exposed to how the sun and wind energy could be stored as hydrogen to be either used as fuel or turned into energy when needed.
When I am not busy studying, I usually go hiking at Breacon Beacons. It is only a 15-20mins drive away from campus and it is stunningly beautiful. Aside from that I usually go swimming at the Cardiff International Swimming Pool, raft and board at the Cardiff International White Water centre, ice skate at Planet Ice and my favourite of all is to rock climb at Boulders. When I don’t feel like going too far, the short country walk along Taff Trail is another enjoyable routine I usually do.
Tell us about the lecturers
The lecturers are simply great. The course leader, James Reed, is passionate and extremely sensitive to the needs of the students on the course. The lecturers are world renowned experts in their fields. Alan Guwy and Jon Maddy are experts in Hydrogen technology and have been involved in the setting up of the hydrogen economy for Wales. Being able to learn how the framework and decision making process toward realizing a hydrogen economy from the main people currently doing it for Wales is second to none. Sandra and Richard Dinsdale are experts in the Anaerobic Digestion processes where wastes are upgraded to energy and high grade soil fertilizers. They are professional consultants to water companies and the AD industry from within the UK as well as abroad. Learning how AD works, how to control the processes and how to design AD facilities from scratch is an experience I don’t think I would get elsewhere. The lecturers are very informative, helpful and most importantly human (they are funny and encourage student participation during their lecturers).
What do you hope to do after you graduate?
I hope I would be able to further my PhD in Renewable Energy and do more research in finding solutions to energy and fuel shortages, upgrading of energy systems and mitigating waste problems and turning it into energy as well as the discharge of clean water to the environment. Alternatively I would like to have the opportunity to work under a firm which does this type of research.
Any advice to those thinking about studying this course at the University of South Wales?
University of South Wales is an extremely friendly university, in terms academic reading, student life as well as in terms of practicing your faith. I am a Muslim and I have no problems practicing my faith. The chaplaincy is very supportive and sensitive to our needs. The staff as I have previously mentioned are very helpful and they remember you like you’ve been friends for years. You are able to sit down with them and share your problems in total confidence, or just have a casual chat for no good reason, the important thing is that they are there to listen and help. Cost of living is low yet facilities are great. There are many outdoor activities and they barely cost you your meal. Talking about meals, the cafe at Stills and the student lounge at the Student Union are great places to hang out, meet other students and fill your tummy with nice warm home cooked meals (the chef’s dessert of the day is to die for!).