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EfS Experiences | Ph.D. Guillermo Ivan Pereira

Publication date: 09-07-2019 13:52

Delivering sustainable energy systems is a critical component to reach a much-needed low carbon future. This calls for progressive climate, energy, and economic policy, it calls also for pioneering science and technology. And, at the core, it calls for a new educational approach that prepares leaders for the complexity of the challenges at the intersection of energy and society. I choose the Energy for Sustainability (EfS) Initiative Ph.D. Program at the University of Coimbra/MIT Portugal Program because it provides a platform that delivers into this need. The initiative brings together world leading research institutions and industry partners and enables diverse fields of knowledge to engage and develop science that is transferable to tackle the economic, social, and environmental dimensions of our energy challenges.

The program exposes its student cohort to the reality that to tackle our energy and sustainability challenges we need to collaborate across fields of expertise and geographies. This is visible in the course units that make up the taught part of the Masters and Ph.D. program, as well as in the knowledge gaps and research designs seen on student’s dissertations. 

I completed my Ph.D. in Sustainable Energy Systems last spring. My work focused on understanding how power utilities adapt when faced with disruptive changes in policy and technology, particularly on the adaptation of electricity distribution system operators and their response to smart grids and renewable energy diffusion. To approach this topic I needed access to knowledge and guidance from different fields and was able to collaborate with the School of Science and Technology, the School of Economics, and the Institute for Systems and Computers Engineering. In addition to facilitating research across departments the EfS Initiative allows also for international collaboration, I had the opportunity to develop research at MIT, Boston University, and the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. Throughout the program, I had the opportunity to shape my research to meet the needs of the knowledge gap to advance our knowledge in sustainable energy systems. Very few programs prepare graduates with this comprehensive set of skills. 

Guillermo Ivan Pereira