Chemical Engineering student Charlotte Muhrbeck reflects on her two week work placement with the Vattenfall Heat UK team.
After graduating from the European School in Brussels and taking a sabbatical year in Sweden, I started studying engineering at the University of Edinburgh in 2018. I am enrolled in a chemical engineering master’s program and have just finished the third year of my degree.
As a student, I think it is very valuable to get an insight into what it is like to work as an engineer in practice. During the spring, I therefore looked for internships/work shadowing opportunities at several companies. I became interested in Vattenfall for various reasons. Firstly, it seems to be a company with ambitious climate goals and great opportunities to make an important contribution in this area. Like many others, I believe that the climate change issue is one of the most important challenges for today's generation of engineers. Another reason for my interest in Vattenfall is that I recently took courses in heat transfer and fluid mechanics, which I enjoyed a lot and that I think are relevant in many of Vattenfall’s areas. The third reason is more personal. While I grew up in Belgium, I have spent a lot of time in Sweden and I have a Swedish-French citizenship. I thought it would be very interesting to get an insight into an international company with Swedish origins.
I was therefore very happy when Lead Engineering Manager Selene Molina Blanco offered me a 2-week work shadowing placement in July.
After introductory meetings where I received information about Vattenfall in general and the UK business in particular, I spent the first week in various team meetings. I learned a lot about the district heating technology and the ongoing heat projects in the UK, as well as about all the steps from bidding to contracting, to building a heating network and about the people involved in each step. I also found it very interesting to learn about other technologies of low carbon heat that can be used when district heating is not an option. I was extremely well received and had the opportunity to talk individually with several members of different teams. Everyone was very accommodating and willing to share their experiences and answer my questions.
Working with the team
What's it like being alongside the team during work placement? Bristol University students from 2019-2021 recap their year at the end of their experience.
During the second week, I continued to participate in various team meetings and was also given the task of working on a small project concerning heat networks, more specifically, to look into heat losses in pipes that are used to distribute heat. I really enjoyed working on this project which gave me the opportunity to better understand the engineering behind heat networks.
- In particular, the work shadowing helped me get a better understanding of the role of engineers in the business process
- I also realised that learning about new areas and topics is part of everyday work
Although two weeks is a short time, thanks to good planning and organisation, the work shadowing opportunity has given me a much better idea of what it is like to work as an engineer at a company like Vattenfall. I found the working atmosphere very dynamic and welcoming and I am grateful to everyone who shared their knowledge and experiences with me.
Of course, participating in physical meetings and visiting the premises of Vattenfall would have given an extra dimension to my experience, but this was not possible this time due to the pandemic.
Finally, I would like to express a special thank you to Selene Molina Blanco and Andy Yuill for their support.