Case study

MSc Renewable Energy — Nathan Holford

Nathan believes the time he spent studying in Barcelona and Paris as part of the KIC InnoEnergy Renewable Energy MSc has been invaluable to his career. He now works for UK company BBOXX

How did you choose your course?

Having taken an ERASMUS year in Germany as part of my physics Masters at Imperial College, London my eyes were already open to the value of studying abroad. However, having studied quite a theoretical course in physics I really wanted to study something more practical.

I applied for two KIC InnoEnergy programmes, which appealed because of their 'two country, two degree' approach, as well as offering training and skills development in business and entrepreneurship.

I was accepted onto the Renewable Energy (RENE) MSc and spent my first year at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC) in Barcelona. I then moved to Paris for my final year to study at the prestigious Ecole Polytechnique at Paris-Saclay.

Tell us about the course and what it involves…

My first year in Barcelona was fantastic. It's an amazing city and a great place to live and study.

The course was interesting and gave me a good grounding in all of the basic elements of renewable energy. The course was completely international; all the lectures were taught in English so I didn't have to struggle with a language barrier. I actually picked up some Spanish, although not as much as I would have liked.

During my second year in Paris, I focused on Solar Photovoltaics and it was inspiring to be studying at a place that has such a fantastic reputation in the field. I was also able to work with the latest cutting-edge technologies, which was exciting.

What was the most rewarding part of the experience?

In the summer between my degree years, I attended the KIC InnoEnergy summer school at ESADE Business School in Barcelona, which gave me a strong insight into the world of entrepreneurship, and the skills to think about setting up my own business.

We got access to senior leaders from some of Europe's leading energy companies throughout our time on the programme and were able to attend presentations and networking sessions with the top people at KIC InnoEnergy's partner companies, such as Total.

I don't think any other course could offer such close links with these big companies. I made some great contacts.

How did the experience benefit your career?

For my thesis, I started working with BBOXX, a company based in the UK that brings solar power to remote communities in Africa.

My qualification was an asset when getting this job. BBOXX's founders are international and the geographic spread of our clients and workforce means that my experience in working internationally, as well as remotely, is invaluable.

Studying abroad gave me skills in working with people from other countries, and this has been really useful in my current role. I've also found the entrepreneurial skills I learned at ESADE incredibly helpful.

What advice would you give to anyone planning to study a KIC InnoEnergy course?

Go for it. You won't find the two-centre qualification, business skills and links to big business in the sector anywhere else.