Clean Energy Engineering — Abhijeet Singh
Alumnus Story — Abhijeet Singh
With a degree in electronics and communications engineering from Punjab Technical University, Abhijeet Singh initially considered going into IT like many of his classmates. However, an opportunity to join a solar energy startup was more appealing. He then advanced to a position with Bosch Energy and Building Solutions, where he led the technical sales and business development of solar power projects in northern India.
“When I started at Bosch I was part of a small group of three people, but over the four years I was there I helped grow the team to 20,” he says. This small group within the large multinational organization operated with an entrepreneurial drive and Abhijeet was exposed to all aspects of the business. “I was part of the whole journey, from talking to potential customers to converting that to a deal and then executing on the strategy, including procurement.”
With a desire to advance into more senior positions, he knew further education was key.
“I’ve often been the person implementing strategy,” he says. “As the implementer, you can make tweaks, but you can’t change the strategy entirely. I wanted to understand the thinking that went into decision-making and move into positions where I would be directly involved in developing strategy.”
He researched engineering master’s programs around the world and says that when he read about the MEL, he stopped looking at other options.
“I’m a technical person and it’s important to me to maintain that focus. But unlike a traditional MEng, the MEL would enable me to learn important business skills as well.”
Capstone projects unites experience and knowledge
Abhijeet says his engineering classes provided an excellent overview of the energy sector, from the study of thermodynamics in the energy system fundamentals course in the first semester through to classes on sustainable energy, energy storage and transmission, and energy efficiency and conversion.
Early on in the academic year, he used his LinkedIn networking skills to reach out to organizations that might be interested in taking advantage of his skills for a four-month capstone project. He secured a position at SHARC Energy, a company that develops products used in commercial, industrial and residential buildings around the world to recover energy from wastewater for heating, cooling and hot water production. At SHARC, he completed a technical and financial analysis of a sewage waste heat recovery system at UBC’s Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre, which included evaluating potential emissions reductions and designing a reliable energy storage solution for the heat recovery system.
The capstone project enabled Abhijeet to apply knowledge from his own work experience as well as material learned in his classes.
“The MEL coursework gives you an overview of all the main subject areas and technologies,” he says. “The capstone is an opportunity to pick an area you’re interested in and devote 10 to 15 hours a week to that one subject. I really encourage students to see this as an important opportunity to go in depth in an area that excites them.”
As for the business and leadership classes, Abhijeet says he appreciated the fact that the case studies and examples used were often pulled from the engineering industry. “I could always relate to the examples and connect them to my own experience,” he says. “So I could reflect back and think ‘yes, my boss was right in that situation, or no, I now see how we lost out on a business opportunity because of how that was handled.’”
Growing personally and professionally
Abhijeet’s achievements within his capstone project resulted in a permanent job offer at SHARC, where he is now working as a technical sales specialist. In this role, he researches new markets, designs strategy and reaches out to potential customers to explain how the company’s suite of products can significantly reduce their energy costs and lower their greenhouse gas emissions.
“The MEL enabled me to grow my technical and business knowledge, develop my network and gain experience working for a Canadian company,” he says. “While I came to the program with a lot of practical work experience, this degree gave me a strong foundation on the business and management side. It also helped me grow personally through classes that encouraged me to think about the behaviours and attitudes that make for an effective leader.”
Reflecting on his own experience, Abhijeet encourages future MEL students to take advantage of all the opportunities that come with the program, including the professional development skills-building workshops offered throughout the year.
“These are usually hour-long sessions on topics like communication, presentation skills and resumé development. I found the material to be very helpful and offer a lot of benefits.”
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