For a successful energy transition - one of the most important challenges of the future - new skills and qualifications among electrical engineers are of utmost importance. Technical development in smart grids needs to go hand in hand with innovative educational methods, hands-on approaches and tight collaboration betwen the academy and the industry.
In SMAGRINET's WP3, this issue was addressed by developing three Challenge and Case-Based master level modules. Knowledge acquired from the SMAGRINET Modules, together with the pre-existing basis from the studies, gives a great basis for future engineers. But, in order to prepare them for real-life challenges, the SMAGRINET International Mobility Programme was created, supporting their learnings with practical opportunities in the industry.
More than 60 students from all the consortium universities participated in SMAGRINET's Mobility Programme activities between July 2021 and March 2022. The mobility programme was kicked off with internships in selected companies that matched students from Germany, Lithuania and Slovenia during the summer of 2021.
Two SMAGRINET International Mobility Programme Roadshows took place during autumn 2021 – one in Brussels and Paris, involving students from Estonia, France, Germany, Lithuania, and Slovenia. In October, Module 2 students were able to get into a discussion with the European Commission and EURELECTRIC, and visit EDF Lab Renardières (near Paris) to get acquainted with EDF's impressive R&D activities.
Future electrical engineers who completed SMAGRINET Modules 1 and 3 visited Estonia and received insights from presentations by the national transmission system operator, Elering, and Estonia's largest network operator, Elektrilevi. Visits took us to important sites of Estonian electricity production: Auvere and Iru Power Plants and Paldiski facilities. On top of that, the NATO Cyber Defense Competence Center of Excellence included students in a hands-on simulation of a cyberattack targeting the electrical grid.
The activities were wrapped up with a SMAGRINET International Mobility Programme Online Session - a virtual visit to Norway and United Kingdom in Spring 2022, open to all universities. One of the largest investor-owned energy companies in the world, National Grid, showcased its innovation activities and challenges. On top of that, we were offered an in-depth look into the Norwegian electrical system and its future, by the Norwegian Smartgid Center.
There was a good symbiosis with the Modules that were a prerequisite for participating in the Mobility program. Knowledge acquired from the Modules, together with the pre-existing basis from the studies, was a great foundation to gain the most out of internships and visits. The imparted mindset and the wider, international perspective, help support the resolution of ongoing and emerging challenges of the energy transition.
In conclusion, regardless of the challenges brought by the pandemic and the need for several adaptations, the SMAGRINET's Mobility Programme has fulfilled its goal – to prepare a new generation of researchers and engineers for the challenges of the energy transition, in close collaboration with the industry. Students found the programme inspiring and useful for their aspired careers, and the developed activities and connections are the seed for future collaborations.