29 October 2018 • Tim Hoppen, with the cooperation of Patrick Marck

How do you promote the employability of students in the area of sustainable energy? The international, intercultural and interdisciplinary PEETS project (Promoting Excellence in Employability and Transversal skills) does this through the development of transversal skills. An international group of students jointly built a windmill and solar panels.

In 2017, the first year of the PEETS project, the students built a wind turbine in Scotland. This year, the fourteen PEETS students travelled to Finland. The students were enrolled in different degree programmes, from environmental and technology studies to marketing and international business. In Finland, they focused their efforts on building solar panels and then developed a concept to use these panels in a village in Kenya to enable the locals to charge their smartphones in a structural and sustainable way.

Summer camp

The PEETS concept turned out to be a great combination of challenges and fun for the students. Three teams were established that competed against each other. Relevant lectures and interesting company visits were also organised. Part of the programme took place in the city of Lahti. They also spent a few days in Finnish nature, where they stayed at a ‘summer camp’. Patrick Marck, Marketing student, comments, “All of the games, football playing, swimming in the lake, relaxing in the sauna and, of course, building the solar panels themselves, brought us closer together as a group.”

Surprising twist

Their stay ended with a surprising twist. Patrick explains, “First, the deadline was pushed up by several hours, which obviously caused stress. On the day of the presentation to the commissioning party, the three groups were told that they needed to combine their concepts and presentations into a single concept. The process that followed was one of the best learning experiences I’ve ever had. The three groups were given a short period of time to determine which ideas would be included in the presentation and which would not. The entire process of collaborating and using the knowledge learned ultimately led to a fantastic end result – and having to work until late in the evening.”

Close-knit

What Patrick believes may very well have been the best part of the entire trip was the other students. “It’s pretty amazing how you can become such a close-knit group with so many different types of people in such a short time. Not only did this project teach me a lot about sustainable energy and employability skills, but the trip gave me so much more.”

Research

The students also conducted research, such as subjecting themselves to a 0 and 1 measurement in order to determine which skills they had already developed. The entire project was also evaluated and the students gave it a rating of 9.1. The students appreciated being pulled out of their comfort zone and learning skills related to understanding other cultures, self-confidence, self-insight, leadership, teamwork, communication, dealing with stress and the English language.

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