Meet Leo, a UQ Sustainable Energy Scholar

17 May 2023

Are you curious to know what it’s like to study the Master of Sustainable Energy? Here is Sustainable Energy scholar Leo Kannampuzha's firsthand account of how the program has opened doors to exciting projects, equipped him with valuable skills, and helped him overcome Imposter Syndrome. Leo also shares his advice for future students considering studying Sustainable Energy at UQ, highlighting the importance of networking.

How has the Sustainable Energy scholarship assisted you in your Sustainable Energy program?
The scholarship helped me stand out within the diverse and unique class profile in the Sustainable Energy classroom while instilling confidence that I do belong here. The financial benefit is evident, but it has helped me the most in the battle against Imposter Syndrome. 

What projects, events and networking opportunities have you been part of during your studies?
The program has ignited a zeal and enthusiasm within me to be a part of as many events as possible. This has led me to be a part of the Sustainable Energy field trips to Gatton, Warwick, Gladstone and Heron Island Research Station, an internship at a company looking to offset carbon emissions by using NFT's, Networking events at UQ, Queensland Parliament House and off-campus with distinguished alumni and industry professionals, and a Summer Research program at UQ. All these events and experiences have helped me mould an understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing the energy industry in the years to come.

Leo has a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering from the University of Mumbai and over three years of work experience in the Design and Detailed Engineering and Front-End Engineering Deliverables (FEED) within the Gas Engine, Gas Turbine, and Diesel Engine Power Plant EPC (Engineering, Procurement & Construction) for projects in the UAE, Maldives, Nigeria, Mali, Niger, and India.

How have the skills you have learned in the MSE program helped you so far?
The MSE Program is a diverse classroom with vivid work experiences. The foundation modules develop a basic understanding of the technical concepts and are further developed and discussed in detail in the classroom with activities and open discussions. 
The courses have a broad range from public policy, energy development, energy markets, law & policy, energy strategy, innovation & entrepreneurship and finally, Energy investment & finance. This gives us a holistic approach looking at energy from different perspectives and then mapping solutions to the challenges. The broad range helps to understand the interlinkages between different stakeholders within a organisation and industry.

What is the most challenging part of studying a Master's degree, and how do you overcome it?
For me, it would be time management. Given my involvement in many different things, it sometimes becomes challenging to micro-manage time. Overlapping courses, assignments, submissions and part-time work is inevitable but can be dealt with easily if you practise time management and keep a rudimentary plan of action with deliverables.

What is the best part of studying Sustainable Energy at the University of Queensland?
The University of Queensland practices what it preaches, and that makes the study environment and course content authentic. For example, we visited the UQ-owned and operated Warwick Solar Farm is designed to meet UQ's energy demand each year, making it the first University in the world to utilise renewable energy to meet its own energy demand.

What is your advice about networking and getting the most out of your studies?
Networking is a key component of the MSE program, as the outcome of any program is assessed based on job prospects. The Networking events at UQ with alumni and industry professionals represent a close-knit MSE Network where it is easier to connect with prospective employers and colleagues. 

Leo discussing aspects of the Energy Principles and Renewable Energy course with A/Prof Simon Smart.

My advice would be to always research the company, available roles and ongoing projects. This makes a lasting impression on the employers and portrays the effort put in to find out more about the company. If you are not comfortable going solo to networking events, always take a companion with you to make it easier. Networking only gets easier with practice and experiential learning, so it's a skill you'll master over time.

What is your advice to future students who are considering studying Sustainable Energy at UQ?
There is no better time to study Sustainable Energy than now. The transition to low-emission technologies is happening, albeit at a slow pace but it is something that is inevitable. Given the push for renewables and meeting emission reduction targets, the career prospects for Sustainable Energy professionals are bright. So, why wait? Make the move now!

Leo and fellow students on the annual Sustainable Energy field trip to Heron Island.