You haven’t had the chance to be present at the InnoEnergy Alumni Connect weekend in Berlin in October last year? We have missed you! But here’s your chance to get a grasp of what has happened in Berlin, as InnoEnergy alumni Henrique Pombeiro just interviewed one of the most inspiring speakers of the whole event. We introduce you Tom Huizer and his game changing thoughts about climate change and the positive impact communities can have.’
Tom Huizer is a InnoEnergy alumni of the Master SELECT Program and current PDeng Trainee at Smart Energy Buildings and Cities. Tom is an exemplary student who has been building a career towards climate change. This first article of the InnoEnergy Community wants to share Tom’s thoughts about InnoEnergy and its role against climate change. His thoughts can inspire young minds that want to do something positive in the world and be a ‘game changer’.
‘Even though it seems scary to leave your hometown and leave things behind, it is very fulfilling if you know you are working in something to make the world a better place.’
In your view, what kind of impact do you think programs such as InnoEnergy can have on young minds?
I think InnoEnergy does a really good job at making an impact. Engineering is a nice field but it is still narrow. I broadened my view by doing one of the Master’s from InnoEnergy. I think this is very important in the world today. If you want to make an impact you need to communicate across borders to different people from different countries.
You have a realistic sense of climate change due to an excursion that you did to Greenland. Can you talk about it?
One year ago I took a trip to the Aqqutikitsoq glacier, in Greenland. I was studying renewable energy and I am passionate about climate change. I wanted to see the impact of climate change with my own eyes. This was something that was not connected to InnoEnergy, rather it was organized by the University in Denmark (DTU) so I had to apply for it and was excited when I was accepted. I spent one month there during the summer together with 16 scientists on a glacier expedition. We researched this specific glacier and by doing that every year we realized how fast they are actually melting and this made me feel really strong about doing something about it. This was one of the most important trips I’ve ever done. It made me want to be a ‘game changer’ in climate change to make sure the climate does not warm any further.
Can you tell us about your recent pathways?
I did my first year of the InnoEnergyMaster in Barcelona, then in the summer I went to Greenland, then Eindhoven where I started doing my Thesis. What I saw in Greenland really had an impact on me and so I realized that I wanted to do something for sustainability. I started working on this concept that is a battery that stores heat for cooking. In my Thesis, I worked both in the technical and on the business aspect of the idea, which was something I learned from InnoEnergy MSc and that I would not have learned if I were doing a regular Master. The real added value is that, thanks to InnoEnergy, I had the means and the opportunity to go through the whole design thinking process: developing a value proposition, prototyping, testing, talking to potential customers, and so forth.
You have also participated in several events very recently such as the European Utility Week in Vienna. How important were those events for you?
These events were very important because that makes you realize how big and how connected the InnoEnergy community is. It is growing really fast and I believe it is going to be one of the most important platforms of the future. For me it was really nice to see and have this family feeling that you have when looking at InnoEnergy; we all know each other within the InnoEnergy CommUnity and so it is grateful seeing that we are all active in becoming ‘game changers’.
You are also an active member of students’ communities: Team Energy and our InnoEnergy Community. How important do you think it is to join these types of communities?
I joined Team Energy in the first year, when they started, and then you could really see it evolve as a regular startup. You run into problems that you try to solve, you learn how to manage public relationships, how to organize events, to talk with companies, and so on. For your professional development, it is a valuable thing that you cannot learn from lectures, it’s something you learn from your experience.
You know we are now developing a platform to bridge the InnoEnergy Community. How valuable do you think this is?
I think it is important because it makes it way easier to connect and make what you are doing more interesting, more reachable. It is great if you can easily find people that are able and willing to help you with an idea that you have, or the other way around.
Talking about your active role against climate change, what are your general thoughts on this issue and the current status of the World? Especially now that several initiatives are trying to do something like COP21.
What I feel is that in the scientific world we have this common sense that climate change is happening, that we are causing it and that it is going faster than anyone ever predicted. This is really alarming because this is affecting us and I feel that in our society today we tend to forget it. In the Netherlands, floods are a serious risk, and in areas of conflict droughts are aggravating the already precarious situation, think for example about Syria. Climate change is making a real impact today. All alarms should go off and we all should act on this now. I really hope that something comes out of COP21 because it is really important that we make decisions now because otherwise it will be too late. ‘Facts can be denied but they cannot be avoided’ and actually people might deny climate change for any reason but is a simple fact that we cannot avoid acting upon it.
To have a strong impact in climate change, what can you reinforce as the most important advice that you can give to young minds?
My simple advice would be simply ‘just do it’! When I made the decision of joining InnoEnergy, at the beginning I confess I was a bit scared because I had a good life in Eindhoven and was going to give up on that, moving to Barcelona to a completely different life. Since I made that decision, life has been like a roller-coaster. It is not always a rational choice but if you feel inside that something has to change, then InnoEnergy is the place. Even though it seems scary to leave your home town and leave things behind, it is very fulfilling if you know you are working on something to make the world a better place.
Do you think young generations are up for the task of changing the world? Or that they have been losing ground values and consciousness towards solving climate change?
I believe that our generation wants to work for companies that have a strong corporate responsibility. Our generation is looking for a job with a purpose, with a higher meaning than simply working from 9 to 5. I think our generation is very much aware of what is happening and I think we will do our best to change things.