Powered up for a Greener Future

July 2023 — “There is great potential in alternative energy”. This realisation struck An Lining as she was doing research into various types of energy systems. Hoping to strengthen her technical capabilities and prepare herself to make the most of the opportunities on the horizon, she enrolled in the National University of Singapore (NUS) Master of Science in Energy Systems (MSc in Energy Systems) programme. We recently caught up to her to learn more about her motivations and how the programme is helping to prepare her for the future.

Interviewer: Hello Lining! Can you tell us why you chose to take up the NUS MSc in Energy Systems?

An Lining: My introduction to the energy industry began with my studies at the North China Electric Power University. While doing research for my undergraduate thesis on the topic of "Distributed Solar Power Generation and Trading", I gained insights into alternative energy, specifically the development of global new energy markets and their business growth potential.

I also spent almost half a year in an investment consultancy where I evaluated new energy options. As I learned more about this area, I was enticed by the promise of new and alternative energies, as well as the plethora of personal opportunities available for professionals within the field.


An Lining with members from NUS International Student Association

In order to pursue a career in this field, I needed a programme that would be able to give me a leg up in the industry. The NUS MSc in Energy Systems offered both technical modules on energy systems as well as modules on Innovation and Management. As someone with experience in the field, I felt this would not only complement my existing qualification but also allow me to expand my knowledge laterally.

Singapore is also positioned well in the field of energy systems and has many investments in key industry projects. Furthermore, because NUS is ranked among the best universities in the world, I had confidence in pursuing a Master’s Degree at the University.

Interviewer: When applying for the programme, you had to submit a personal statement. How did you go about preparing your write-up?

An Lining: I tailored my personal statement to focus on my experience in relevant courses I had taken in my undergraduate studies, such as power engineering and power planning. I also touched on the work that I had done during my internship and referenced it to the curriculum to show my experience in the industry as well as my interest.

On the topic of applications, I understand that there may be people who wish to pursue this programme but are worried that they would be at a disadvantage because their undergraduate qualifications are not energy-related. I would say that this programme considers all applicants equally, regardless if their degrees are in non-energy-related fields. I would recommend that such applicants highlight their own personal strengths and show their interest for the programme.


Interviewer: Let us talk about your experience in the programme and some of the modules that you have taken.

An Lining: Two modules stood out to me.

ME5209 Energy Technologies and Systems covers renewable technologies and conventional energy/power systems. Some aspects of physics are touched upon in this module, but the lecturers were excellent as they were able to communicate the technologies and theories in an easily understandable and vivid manner. This helped me comprehend the topics with ease.

MLE5212 Energy Conversion and Storage is the other module. Energy storage plays a deep and important role in any energy system. From the perspective of containing the energy during power generation as well as the people who are tapping on the energy to power their systems, knowing how energy storage systems work is an invaluable skill for anyone who plan to be involved in this industry.

It starts with introducing the basics of designing and processing materials for energy storage and conversion, their integration into batteries, super capacitors, and fuel cells as well as methods for the performance characterisation and optimisation of these devices. The module rounds off by going into aspects of current research on materials for energy storage and conversion.  


Interviewer: How did you find your classmates? Did you learn anything from them?

Apart from the lecturers, my classmates helped me to learn a great deal. In one of the modules, we had mechanical engineering doctoral students in the same class as us. It offered me a chance to observe their project management process: from deciding on an assignment topic and assigning roles among their team members to carrying out research and finally, presenting their finished product. This showed me how to be more effective in my own project work.

My cohort is made up of fresh graduates as well as people with working experience. The working adults come from various industries: environmental management, petroleum, chemical engineering as well as non-engineering fields, like business and economics. This allows for a very diverse range of perspectives to be brought to the table during discussions and project work.

Also, as my classmate Jonathan had mentioned, since my classmates come from different nationalities and working backgrounds, we have opportunities to network and learn about different industries.

Speaking of networking, in preparing for my entry into the workforce, I have received a great of deal support from NUS through job fairs and internship opportunities, which have been suggested by the programme co-ordinators, student associations as well as student mentors. There is a flexibility within the programme to explore the associated energy industries such as electricity, renewable energy, and carbon reduction consulting industries. It is really up to one’s capability on how far one can capitalise on these opportunities.

Interviewer: We have come to the final question. You have had some experience in the energy sector. From your perspective, what does the future hold for renewable energy?

Lining: I think there is an urgent need to explore various energy systems and there is a movement in the industry to explore alternative energy sources beyond fossil fuels. This is quite apparent from the volatility of oil prices and their impact on the prices of everyday consumables.

Based on my observations, there is a desire from industries and individuals to reduce fossil fuel usage and replace it with alternative energy that has a smaller carbon footprint.. Enterprises are looking to push the green economy into a sustainable industry without relying on government subsidies. Energy traders are looking for opportunities to market renewable energy to consumers. Everyday people are also looking to tap onto technology to provide them with consumer-friendly ways of cutting down their carbon footprint to save the world. In this way, I see a lot of demand for green energy from the market as well as industries.


About the Programme

The MSc in Energy Systems programme is a unique combination of engineering and technology management to meet current and near-future energy development needs in Singapore, Asia and worldwide.

The programme will equip students with holistic and foundational knowledge in energy technology and innovation management, facilitate decision-making in energy solutions and investment through quantitative and qualitative methods.

03 May 2023