Sustainable Energy students learning new lessons

18 May 2020


Due to Covid-19 restrictions, students are not in the classroom at the moment, but studying online from home.

UQ’s Master of Sustainable Energy students are not only working hard to soak up as much knowledge as they can about climate change and the transition to a low-carbon future. 

They are also tackling the recent challenges of studying online as opposed to regular week-intensive courses on campus.

Since the University shifted classes to remote teaching in response to Covid-19, the master students have participated in two intensive courses behind screens and devices from home.

Student Nathan Blundell is in his second semester, studying part-time. He said that the face-to-face intensive teaching weeks were very important to establish relationships with class mates, and he has missed the small conversations that occur between classes and at lunch breaks.

“The in-class experience is different, but we still have great guest lecturers and open discussion online. Zoom has allowed break-out rooms and even an online debate which is great practice for the current remote working environment.”

“I am 100% working from home so the skills required to participate in class discussion and group assignments online translate directly to my work life.”

Nathan said that he is working to keep his life and studies going as normally as possible.

“I exercise as normal and treat my home office like a lecture theatre. Even though the class is online, I try to participate as if we are in person. I ask lots of questions, discuss subjects offline with class mates and email lecturers to follow up on discussions to keep a connection,” he said.

Part-time student Nigel Lott said that he was experiencing a feeling of loss without the usual interactions with his fellow students on campus. In having to balance both work and study physically from his home, he was surprised in gaining some new insights.

“I have learned that my previous work-study home life was, in fact, quite well integrated and balanced, and it was effective at providing mental breaks and getting exercise. I should appreciate it more!”.

“To cope with this situation, I have made a study plan with input from my family and I have rescheduled some work, and I then try to make myself stick to the plan. I also make a point of getting outside regularly as otherwise it doesn't just happen,” Nigel said.

International student Tony Geng was visiting his home country China as the borders closed due to the Covid-19 outbreak, and he did not make it back to Australia for semester start. He is now writing a thesis for the professional project in his last semester.

“It is challenging to work on the same thing for hours a day. But I have been in weekly online contact with my two advisors, I have taken part in online tutorial sessions and I have joined the weekly Friday ‘tea sessions’ held by Professor Peta Ashworth for advice and mental support to each of us during these tough times.”

“My strategy is to make the best use of the resources available to us, work hard on my project and make simple and small steps progressing until it is finished,” he said.

“I look very much forward to getting back to a more normal life on the other side of Covid-19. I can return to Australia and UQ to see everyone again and get back to my swimming routines as part of the UQ swimming squad.”