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NUI Galway goes to TU Delft: The Unconnected, Connected

4 minutes to read

The NUI Galway Energy Society were shown how the Dutch are leading the way in implementing innovative energy solutions by TU Delft as a part of the annual NUI Galway Energy Trip. Notably, the increase in the number of bicycles, trams and electric vehicles visable in comparison to Ireland. As the transport market is set to undergo a significant change in the future, it was enlightening to see the Dutch already leading the way. The influence of proper infrastructure and the right societal mind-set is evident everywhere.

The highlight of this trip was the day visit to TU Delft, an idea born in the halls of the Bali Nusa Dua Convention Centre in Indonesia where the International Student Energy Summit was held last summer which brought together students from all across the world to discuss energy and climate change in all forms. This is where the conversation began to bring together the NUI Galway Energy Society and the TU Delft Energy Club. “Connecting the Unconnected”, the theme for the 2015 summit was truly epitomised through this trip.

The Energy Society were shown the Prêt-à-Loger, an energy neutral house renovation built entirely by students and is modelled on a Dutch row house in the vicinity. Applying a “skin” over the existing house, the south facing wall is fitted with a green house and solar panels, in contrast to the northern faced wall which is insulated in order to retain heat which is generally lost due to it being the cooler side of the house. Similar to the NUI Galway Engineering Building, this construction is a living laboratory, allowing visiting students to observe these technologies in practise. There are plans to develop a Green Village on campus with the Prêt-à-Loger being the call to action.

The highlight of the tour was the Dream Hall, a concept unthinkable to an Irish Engineering Student, truly like a dream. This is where TU Delft facilitates its students to develop some of the best sustainable vehicle concepts in the world. The hall houses the Nuon Solar Team who competed in the World Solar Challenge in Australia. The oldest inhabitant of the Dream Hall is the Formula Student Team with over 80 members, 10 of which working full time. They design and build a new car each year to compete in the Formula Student race, and are current winners two years running. It is not just vehicles developed here, we had the opportunity to observe rockets, boats, submarines and an exoskeleton … yes an Iron Man suit.

Despite these amazing technical accomplishments, it was not the most impressive element of the hall. The air of accomplishment, drive and collaboration is evident once you step inside. Hundreds of students with the common goal of succeeding, our tour guide asked each team not “Do you think you will win?” but “What will ensure that you win?” Collaboration is apparent throughout, with a common workspace in the centre which was in full use throughout the tour. The hall is for students and each project was student driven which brought me right back to Bali.

The International Student Energy Summit is run by students for students, the energy this produces inspires students and this is how I felt leaving the Dream Hall.  Looking to the future at this pinnacle point in my life and career, experiences like these will shape my decisions going forward.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the TU Delft Energy Club and in particular Manos Lyrakis, Sjoerd Moorman and Natalia Aleksandrova who truly made our visit to TU Delft and the Netherlands unforgettable.