The Why and How: SET Masters – Part 3: Clusters

You would’ve read why I chose SET Masters in Part 1 and Part 2. The program, in its current form, comes with a mix of interesting courses in various profiles. Today I want to talk about why I chose the cluster of Solar-Power-Economics (SPE) and my journey so far purely from a personal view. And of course, my favorite courses in it!

(PS: I don’t want to talk about what courses are there and what chapters and are covered which you can anyhow get from study guide!)

Why SPE?

Okay. I need to clarify a few things first! Truthfully speaking, this was the cluster that I definitely DIDN’T want to consider. I gave a thought about all other clusters, but I was sure that I would not take any cluster with Power profile in it! Oooooo! *Shudders*. Well, drama aside, there were many reasons for that. Firstly, my vast reading in science, history, business, and technology eventually culminated in a profound interest in the economics of energy systems, the kind of policies required, the way new and upcoming RE technologies diffuse and grow, that I wanted to study without any doubt! Hence economics profile was a must.

Having a knowledge of energy economics, policies, regulations, their impact on technology and vice versa, gave me a sense of a wider understanding of the bigger picture!

Solar PV is going to be one of the most promising areas of growth in the future of RE in the energy mix of almost all the countries and more importantly so in India, for me. I didn’t want to miss out on this. So, the solar profile was a must.

Thirdly, I had interest in bioenergy in areas like waste to energy and waste management, plastics reusability, and bio-circular based economy. I felt that bioenergy promised growth in the areas where solar and wind couldn’t, especially in a country like India. So missing out on biomass profile was out of the question!

Finally, with no background in electrical and electronics engineering, I knew I didn’t want to take Power! As simple as that. Voila! The choice of my cluster was clear! Woohoo! Wait, except, such a cluster did not exist! And the program director ruled out creating clusters of our own. What a pity! Hence my only option was to change my cluster which didn’t have power and satisfied all other requirements. One glance at the list of clusters reveals that you cannot choose solar and economics without power, and, biomass came only with storage and economics. Hence, I had to sacrifice either biomass or solar to have economics in the mix. 2 months and a number of useless hours spent thinking later, I chose Solar Power and Economics as my cluster!

The fact of the matter is, quite often, we either underestimate or do not fully comprehend the awesome possibilities that lay ahead of us if only we are trying to push ourselves a little further. While I cursed myself for choosing power, I didn’t quite realise that I had the ability to take the courses and get through them. I got bogged down by the fact that I didn’t choose what I wanted and kept whining about what I don’t. 3 quarters later, I seem to enjoy doing courses in power and even see a chance of working on my thesis in economics and power profiles! I must admit that the journey has not definitely been smooth and rosy, its definitely better than the picture I painted to myself!

Favorites!

To begin with, ‘Economics and Regulations of Sustainable Energy Systems’ from Q1, has been my top favorite course, taught by the maverick Professor Servaas Storm. Another awesome course, that initially felt a little annoying was ‘Energy Systems Optimization’. I personally got to appreciate the awesomeness of this course only after Q1. Phew, typical human, realize the value of something only after it has passed over and left!

Intelligent Electrical Power Grids in Q3 was another interesting course that gave me an overall picture on what happens in the grid, what happens when you turn on that switch in your room and why is it a pain to integrate the uncontrollable RES like Solar and wind. Finally, Economics Policy for Sustainable energy in Q3 was one of the courses I’d been waiting to do. Qualitatively and quantitatively understanding the impact of policies and regulations on externalities like CO2 emissions and economic impacts of curbing them.

In my next write up, I will get back more on my favorites and will give a deeper insight into various other courses and what you can expect from them!

Namaste.

Zee.

Good Food and Good Company! – Part 1

In my last article, I wrote how much I miss home food. But today, I want to share what we do when we miss home food. Not just that, when so many multi-cultural people gather together, what do we do? Give each a taste of the other’s culture’s!

One such meet was when we all decided at the beginning of the quarter to meet up and get to know each other more casually than in a classroom setting, sometime in September 2017. Two of our classmates, Lukas and Josu, planned it well for us and booked the common room of Professor Schermerhoornstraat building and we had a few drinks and caught up with each other.

SET ’18 parties for the first time together!

After this, we decided to have an International Potluck Dinner in November after the exams of first Quarter. This time, it was a much more inclusive, more engaging and more awesome. People brought a variety of foods made at their homes, of their culture’s speciality and we all feasted on them! Of course, Indians, being the largest group here (after Dutch) made their presence felt with a variety of dishes from South Indian to North Indian and west to east Indian! And then there was Mexican, English, Greek, Indonesian, Spanish, oh, I dont fully remember what else!

I got into the assistant chef mode for Asvin, Ashwin, Adithya, Shruti and Kritika. Since I lived a little far off, I didn’t want to go all the way back to Hague, cook something and bring. So we teamed up and made the awesome dinner at Prof. Schermerhoornstraat(yes, again!). Upma, Aloo tikki chat, Channa masala, Paneer Bhurji, Fish, chicken, jeera rice, Dal, and many more from the Indian side! Please don’t ask what was available from the International contingent, I hardly remember the names! And then there were desserts! Gulab Jamun, Gajar ka Halwa, Beetroot Halwa, and  Apple pie were the only ones that I remember as of now. 😛 But will soon update the post as and when I remember more of them!

The awesome Gulab Jamuns by Priyanka

The awesome team behind Chat, Upma and channa masala!
From left to Right: Asvin, Ashwin, Adithya, Syed, Me, Shruti and Kritika

Upma by Asvin Kumar. I swear it was the best Upma I ever had! Aloo Tikki with Pudina Chutney, Curd and Tamarind sauce by Ashwin and Adithya. The Aloo tikki turned out so well, so did the Pudina chutney! Channa Masala by Shruti and Kritika. *slurrrrp*

Guess who ran the live counter for Aloo Tikki chat? Guess who taught the firangi how to eat (not too spicy) chat the right style? *BANG* That’s me!

Beetroot Halwa (Pudding) and Gajar ka Halwa (Carrot Pudding)!

Good food. Good company. 🙂

Good food. Good music. Good company. We hope to have more of these potluck dinners in the future. 🙂

Woohoo! The SETties International Potluck Dinner 1!
Cheers to more of them in the future! (Lukas at the camera)

Haha, the relationship between good food and good company doesn’t end here. I will be back with more of the smaller social gatherings we have to keep the spirits running and an excuse to get together to have more Indian food!

Namaste.

Zee.

Missing is Happening: Indian Food – Part 1

WARNING: Reader discretion is advised – The blogger holds no liability whatsoever for anyone reading this,  who get attacked by sudden cravings for food from home.

To those yet to leave the cosy confines of their homes, be informed, make the most of your time and enjoy all your favourite food items that you can get your hands on. Be forewarned: (no prizes for guessing) You will miss a lot of home food. (you dont say!). One of the most important factors for people wherever they go, is food, more so when they are shifting for longer periods. While I come from Southern India, I did stay for long periods away from home while working and have enjoyed a variety of foods not native to mine. Rice, roti, bread,

Yet, for the past few months, I have missed a lot of my favourite foods.

I never imagined that I’d be missing Idly so badly. Along with it, the awesome coconut chutney, podi with ghee, ginger chutney, and sambar. I haven’t really mastered making good sambar here, yet. So, till then, I guess I will continue to miss it real bad. And, if you’ve missed Idly, of course you’re going to miss its friend, Dosa. While there are ready-made dosa mixes available, somehow, Im not able to get the taste that I would get back in India. And it goes without mentioning what else one can miss: Masala Dosa, Rawa Dosa, Ghee Roast Dosa, and so on.

Mirchi Bajji Andhra’s special (Image courtesy: Chitra’s food book)

Miss those bondas and my favourite Mirchi Bajjis, where chillies dipped in gram flour batter are fried in oil and are consumed with lemon squeezed on finely chopped onions and sprinkled corainder!

Oh. My. Gawd. *drooools* (Image courtesy: The Urban List)

How can one forget the street food? Pani puri, samosa chat, ragada, cutlet, bhel puri, pav Bhaji, pakora, dahi vada? The mix of sights, smells and tastes that really make your mouth water: the spiciness, the sourness, the sweetness, the crunchiness, the right temperature and texture of the food, the sprinkled onions, lemon and mint on top, with some additional sev, and a sookha puri in the end. Who doesn’t miss it?

Paranthas and rotis are available as frozen foods along with many other sabzis by MTR, Haldirams or other brands in a ready-to-eat style. But some of them lack a freshness inherently. While going to restaurants is, well, above the budgets of our tiny pockets, we have to make do with the ready-to-eats.

Image courtesy: Sunset Magazine

The Dutch (or Europeans for that matter) mostly eat sweet in their snacks too. Wherever I go, I really get bored of the same sights and tastes too (Do not talk about waffles, pies, cakes!). My tongue has been deprived of spicy biscuits, masala papads, samosas and other spicy snacks.

What else do I miss? Uhm… Coconut water and the soft kernels that are a usual sight back home, maize roasted over coal and a dash of lemon and salt rubbed on it, and SWEETS! Of course, how can I forget sweets? While I do admit that I’m not a ‘sweet-tooth’ type of person, there are specific times when I exclusively miss sweets and suffer from ‘sweet hunger’.

As a Hyderabadi, I have missed Biryani more than anything else. The very thought of the mix of all the spices, masala and dum Paradise and Bawarchi, uh..I need a napkin please…

Finally, the most important one: Homemade food. Each and every curry, dal, or any other preparation for that matter, reminds me of home food. While I have developed sufficient culinary skills and make food frequently, there is a missing ingredient always: Love? Of course, I’m learning to enjoy the diversity of food here, nothing can replace the taste of home. So what’s the next best thing you do? Team up and make food from home and enjoy with a good company here!

In my next write up, I will write about how we meet, make food and organise multi-cultural food parties, and how some people offer ‘services’ in this!

Namaste.

Zee.

 

The Why and How: SET Masters, TU Delft: Part 2

I hope you are here after reading Part 1! So, after I realised what I wanted to do, next came the question: how? After weeks of gruelling searching and filtering the universities and programmes of my choice, I was finally able to arrive at a list of interesting Masters programmes in the field of energy and economic policy. I applied to universities in the Netherlands and the US. After a patient wait for more than a month, which itself was a testing time, the admits from all those universities made it, even more, trying to decide.

My options were

  1. M.Sc in Engineering, Science, Technology & Policy (Engineering and Public Policy track) at Carnegie Mellon University, USA.
  2. MS in Energy Systems Engineering at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA.
  3. M.Sc in Sustainable Energy Technology at TU Delft.

How to decide?

I thoroughly compared the 3 programmes on parameters like – coursework, flexibility in choosing the courses, duration of the programme, available options for electives, employment opportunities, and costs involved.  While the programme at CMU offered a vast flexibility in terms of choosing the courses, there was greater emphasis on overall energy technologies rather than that of upcoming sustainable energy technologies in its coursework. The programme at Univ. of Michigan focussed more on core engineering aspects of existing technologies with much lesser scope for branching out into policy evaluation. The SET Masters at TU Delft offered such a diverse coursework with 6 different profiles, 6 pre-mentioned clusters (sadly no scope for making one of your own) and a vast selection of electives from aerospace, civil, electrical, mechanical, applied sciences, and technology, policy & management faculties. Thus, my choice of selection was clear: TU Delft!

How is the program?

You can check out the faculty’s web page regarding the programme in this page. As I mentioned in my previous post, in Part 1 regarding my desire to study renewable energy technologies and its economics, I did meet some obstacles due to the fact that you cannot make your own cluster. Instead of assuming that you know what clusters and profiles are, let me explain briefly. The following six profiles are offered in the programme from which a cluster, of 3 profiles, is chosen.

Since the clusters were fixed, making a choice of your own involving 3 profiles is not possible. Despite my multiple emails, requests before coming here and also after meeting the concerned professors, it was not allowed.

Journey so far

Does it mean the whole thing was just a bummer? Absolutely not! My interests involved Solar energy, energy from biomass, and economics – the three of which were not clustered together. While solar energy and economics do come together, it is along with the power profile, in one cluster, which sent me jitters as I had no background whatsoever in electrical and electronics engineering. If you put in some additional efforts, there’s nothing impossible and it is really interesting to study this new domain albeit with some difficulty. Now, I feel that this cluster makes a lot of sense, as integrating solar energy to the grid requires a knowledge of the engineering of the power systems that go behind it.

Hence, your takeaway here is to make a choice as soon as you get an admit, or, before coming here. On another day, in another post, I will try to explain why it is better to make a choice of a cluster at the earliest! I will also talk about the various courses covered so far and what you can expect and learn!

Namaste.

Zee.

The Why and How: SET Masters, TU Delft: Part 1

In my childhood, I had always dreamed of becoming an astronaut. In my later teens, I wanted to be a quantum physicist devoting all my time to the study of concepts in quantum mechanics, the theory of relativity, etc. I (literally) worshipped Albert Einstein. I would often seek solitude and would study in seclusion. This was one of the strongest desires from my teenage days that I can still see the effects of. (Often, I could link many aspects of my life to the character of Sheldon Cooper from the Big Bang Theory TV series). Ten years and a roller-coaster-ride-of-life later, here I’m in the Netherlands, studying Sustainable Energy Technology.

(Wait! I’m not going to bore you by writing about my life story. Simply, a few thoughts, formed through vast reading and experiences)

I was a part of Jagriti Yatra 2012, where a train full of young minds from across the world buzzing with ideas roamed across India in 15-odd days. (Our accommodation, sanitary and food requirements were met within the train!) This was one heck of an amazing journey I have ever taken up in all my life. What did we do every day? Starting from Mumbai, the train took us to different places where we meet people who are working agriculture, energy, IT, healthcare, education, gender discrimination, women empowerment, and other social sectors. Meeting a wide variety of business and social entrepreneurs to changemakers within the communities, I was amazed by the resilience of people. It was much different India than I knew all along. What made this even more enriching were the daily discussions with fellow Yatris (travellers). Some had their own companies; while some were working on their tenth startup, some were on their first; some had ideas with tremendous possibilities in education, while some were silently working on their’s in rural development. How is this related to my SET Masters? The seeds of change in my mind were planted during this journey.

Never does that hand not raise, never does that mind ceases to think! At one of the meeting sessions with an entrepreneur. (Image Courtesy: Fahad Yunus Mohammed)

It was here that my mind was opened to a world outside with such possibilities. Reading, while on one hand plays its role, nothing beats hands-on experience. This experience helped me show and connect the dots of a world full of problems that can be converted to opportunities. I understood how changing one street light can help 3 girls living in one street get access to education, how timely employment can bring order and eliminate alcohol-induced problems in villages, how employment to ten women can bring solar energy to a whole district and empower them to teach this to women from Africa!

After this realization, I wanted more. I started reading more and sought more of such experiences. I would look out for various organizations involved in my areas of interest (agriculture, energy and environment) and keenly followed their work. I maintained good contact with the people I met on the Jagriti Yatra. I read various inter-disciplinary subjects with respect to my interest areas – economics, history, science and technology, and geopolitics. A pattern began to emerge from this and I realized that I began to take more interest in the field of economics of energy and environmental sustainability. It is a vast field; yet, over a long period, I was able to focus particularly on certain areas. But I understood that a safe and sustainable future starts with: sustainably grown food, clean air, clean and adequate water, and one of the most under-rated commodities – energy. Over the decades, the changing practices in agriculture and businesses have emphasized on economics and de-emphasized sustainability. I wanted to work to change this. It was here that I found resonance with this thought.

What did I do next? Hope to find some time to write it in Part 2!

Namaste.

Zee.

Valuable Lesson(s) of the Day @ €40 only!

There is a road repair work (I guess) going on, on the Jaffalan road (on which you have the TPM faculty). Something went wrong there and the whole (almost) campus lost power. As a result, almost all buildings were evacuated, students were sent away, and classes were cancelled. This came as quite a surprise. Dr. Storm, who joked in the morning saying that “Thanks to my teaching methods, I can take classes even when we’re off-grid!”, had to cancel the class. Most of us left home after this.

My bike has been troubling me for a while and I decided to get it repaired few days earlier. I must also mention that the rear tire tube was leaking and the nozzle was broken. The Werkplaats (Workplace) in the Decathlon store where I purchased it was closed and I decided to park it close by to get back next day, instead of taking it all the way home. Now that the classes were cancelled, I went to the place where I parked my bike today, only to find it missing! Losing your €220 bike + €15 basket on it + €15 chain with which you locked it (total €250) is a nightmare! I searched the whole area where I parked – Rijnstraat, opposite to Den Haag Centraal station, the fietsenstalling (bicycle parking) areas, and in and around the whole building. Yet, it was no where to be seen! I got back to the place where I parked the bike earlier and scrutinized it thoroughly, only to find the board ‘Bicycles forbidden to park here’!

‘Forbidden to park the bikes’

At first, I didn’t pay attention to the board and went ahead to the Centraal station to ask someone where I can find a police to lodge a complaint! (And I realized at that moment that I didn’t even have a picture of my bike). Something struck my mind and I got back to the board and realized that, perhaps, it was towed away for having parked the bike in a ‘No parking’ zone.  I asked around for some help and got a number where you can call and find out if your bike had been taken away by the Gemeente (Municipality). A quick call to 070-752 8800 and a woman on the line said that they did take away a bike with similar specifications that I just said. So I took a train to Voorburg, and a bus to Zonweg from there, followed by a ten minute walk and I was here finally.

 

The place where all towed away bikes are kept safely by the Gemeente (in Den Haag)

I was glad to find my bike. But not so glad to find out that they cut off the chain with which I locked to take it away. But when I found out I had to pay a fine of €25 as a penalty, I got into a Zen mode. RULES. You have to remember that you’re in the Netherlands. I had to pay a fine which is 1/8the cost of the bike to take it back, further with some spokes bent, rear and front mudguard damaged, for which they claim no responsibility. In that condition, with a punctured rear tire, bent seat, I walked my bike for 3km to the repair store.

Lessons learnt (well, laugh all that you can, now, because you wouldn’t be giggling if you were in my place!):

  1. Take a picture of your bike and carry it with you in your phone.
  2. When you park your bike, look around, make sure there are no ‘No parking’ signboards and only then park. Especially if you invested in a strong (expensive) lock, you better don’t park where you shouldn’t.
  3. When you are in a situation where you have to pay fine for breaking a rule, STFU and just pay. (No one will listen to your reason, like in my case when I explained her why I had to leave it there, all I got was, “Aww, ok. Now pay.”) :/

Location of the towed vehicles by Gemeente: Junostraat 24, Den Haag

Cost of the lesson learnt: €25 (fine) + €15 (chain) = €40 (not including the cost of new chainlock to buy!)

I hope this serves as a warning for all (especially those in Den Haag, as I didn’t find this problem in Delft)!

Namaste.

Zee.

First Impressions: My new Neighbourhood

After landing in the Amsterdam Schiphol airport, I took a train to my new place, 60km away, The Hague or as the Dutch say it, Den Haag (Den-Haaah). It was a fairly smooth ride of around 45 minutes. The Hague is the Dutch administrative capital and has offices of all the embassies of various countries. It is a fairly large city; has a rusty and a cosmopolitan feel to it as you travel along  the city!

Train station at Schiphol

I finally reached my station, Den Haag HS and Google Maps shows my building is less than a ten minute walk. It was around 22 degrees, cool and breezy. Struggling to manage three large trolley bags, I finally reached my building. It is a 23 storied student accommodation, Waldorpstraat. I got to meet students from various nationalities around the world who study here in TU Delft, The Hague University, Leiden University, and others.

Waldorpstraat 47 … My home for the next one year!

My flat is on the fifth floor and whoa, its got a balcony and a great view outside. I wish it were on a higher floor! I live in a four sharing accommodation with private rooms for each and common kitchen and bathrooms.

View from my balcony! 😀

One of my roommate, Kay, is from Switzerland. He is an exchange student at TU Delft from ETH Zurich! He studies Management of Technology. The next guy, Ethan, is from England. He’s an exchange student from Leeds University and studies History at Leiden University. The third guy, Arjun, from India, is here for a full-time Masters in TU Delft, like me.  He studies Material Science.

I went around to explore my neighborhood. It was beautiful and thankfully not noisy at all despite the high activity around the location.

The main road of Waldorpstraat, leading up to the station Den Haag HS

 

Exploring Laakhaven

The main road for larger and faster vehicles, the brown roads for cycles and scooters, and the side walk

 

One of the beautiful numerous canals around the neighborhood!

Now here comes the best part. Everything that I need, is less than 10 minutes away by walk! There is a large store – ‘Megastores’ right in front of my building which is less than a 3 minute walk and has all those that I need to survive!

The large Megastores right in front of my building!

What all does the Megastores have?
1. Subway, my favourite.
2.  McDonalds
3. For all your groceries – Aldi, Kruidvat, Big Bazaar
4. For your home needs – Blokker, Xenos, Hema
5. Healthy eating? No problem! There’s one for that as well.
6. What more? Bike stores, electronics stores, furniture, kitchenware and many others!
Just when I thought it cannot get any better than this, then I explored what was behind my building and found these!

Vegetarian Snack bar, Thai food

Chinese Food

And more Chinese! 😀

And then there is the yoga center ‘Sakti Isha’, that I regularly go to, near the Hague University building (oh, which is, by the way, another five-minute walk). It is an amazing place to learn Yoga from well-trained instructors. They also have a special student discount! They also have another center near Den Haag Centrum close to the Grote Kerk. So, from a list of classes, I get to choose which center to go to and when – within comfortable walking distance! If not, well, there’s always my bike, train or trams!

Traaaaams! 😀

Some other day, in another article, I will explain a little more about my neighborhood and will come back with more and much better pictures!
Namaste.
Zee.

Hello! Who am I?

Hello Everyone!

I’m N. Vamsi Krishna from Hyderabad, India. I’m 26 yrs young! I graduated in 2013 in Mechanical Engineering and worked for a couple of years in product development in Automotive industry and in Production. Eventually, I took a break from work to find out what is it that I really wanted to work on. And I realized that it’s clean Energy!

Finally, here I’m in the Netherlands to do my Master’s in Sustainable Energy Technology at TU Delft. My concentration is Solar Energy and Economics.

I like reading a lot – science and technology, economics, geopolitics, and spirituality, poetry, fiction.

I love travelling, especially impromptu trips! I love listening to instrumental music. I love watching a wide variety of movies from different languages – Telugu, Hindi, English, Tamil, Iranian and French! (No, I don’t understand all those languages!). Inception is my all-time favourite.

I regularly practice Yoga. 😀

I live in The Hague and bike 22km to-and-fro to the university every day.

I admire physicists, scientists, and engineers throughout the history of mankind who have made this life comfortable and who have constantly endeavored to make nature as simple as possible to understand.

What am I going to write here? I’m going to write about my journey through TU Delft and in the Netherlands while I pursue my Master’s in my chosen field.

You wanna talk over some coffee? Be my guest.

You wanna talk about renewable energy? Shoot your questions.

Are you a prospective TU Delft student for SET Master’s? You’re in the right place! (Read my story here on Part 1 and Part 2!

Do you have an idea where you want to possibly collaborate with me and many others?

Life is so full of possibilities. I’m here to realize them or, perhaps, create new ones. The more we talk, the more we question, the more we think, and the more we can create! Keep shooting your questions.

Lets have conversations.

Namaste.

Zee.