I decided to study at Loughborough as I did extensive research online and found Loughborough CREST MSc to be the best and most respected Renewable Energy master's. It was also in a great location, within a few hours from family in England and home in South Wales. I also had friends who had studied at Loughborough who enjoyed their time at the University. The course also looked like a detailed and comprehensive analysis of all renewable energy technologies.
My decision to study via distance learning was because I lived in Cardiff and had a full-time job. I was unable to leave Cardiff and move to Loughborough, so the part-time study was ideal. I also did not have prior experience with engineering concepts and higher mathematics, so starting off with one module was a perfect introduction to gauge my understanding of the content.
On my course I particularly enjoyed the well laid out study plan for each semester, outlining all the dates for tutorials, coursework and revision time. This gives you time to arrange study time around commitments and to construct an effective study plan. The introductory sessions were also great to familiarise with staff and students and to feel a part of the course. I really enjoyed the routine of reading through the unit, doing the tutorial questions and then getting feedback and a chance to go through the questions. The course fundamental units are also a brilliant way to spend the summer prior to the first year preparing. As I had no experience in engineering, this was a much needed first glimpse into my new world of study.
The support I received from the University was great. The distance learning team are always just an email away and you can ask tutors and PhD staff for help on assignments. There are message boards for modules, which are actively used by students and monitored by staff. Every question I had was answered or suggestions were given. The online tutorials were always enjoyable and helped you feel connected and build friendships.
I found the facilities great; using the remote lab in Solar 1 was really interesting. I have never tested solar cells and to be remotely controlling the test equipment from Wales was great. Access to industry software and modelling tools is also fantastic, particularly WindFarm and PVsyst.
This MSc programme has helped me to get a research position at Swansea University, where I have been modelling PV systems and the active buildings in place there. Swansea University were already working with the Centre for Renewable Energy Systems Technology and my experience with PVsyst helped me enormously. As I have now moved to Portugal, I aim to continue working in solar modelling or to move into a career in either wind farm design, wind turbine design or dynamics, or a career in aid work, assisting those without any form of power generation. The CREST course has covered all of the above career paths in great detail, but learning Portuguese must come first!
Students considering this programme should create a study plan and stick to it; my best results correlated with good study plans. Never be afraid to ask for help, no matter how basic or silly the question may seem to you. I avoided doing this on numerous occasions and when I finally did, the responses were extremely helpful. Finally, respect the module limit per semester; this is there for a reason! If you are unsure about studying this programme you should go for it, but be conscious of your life commitments each semester and align the modules accordingly. Involve yourself thoroughly in the chat rooms, message boards and tutorials, as active participation will help yourself and others around you. I strongly feel that we need a focus on all aspects of renewable energy for the benefit of future generations - this course provides this, so it is a great and worthwhile choice.
I am very proud of completing the course well in three years, having never studied engineering nor having an interest in mathematics. I now feel ready for a career in renewables and have built a fascination with scientific processes. The course has already enabled me to work in the industry and I have contributed to published work. There have been tough times as with all worthwhile things, especially nearing coursework deadlines and exams, but I have enjoyed it thoroughly and have made some good friends whilst doing it. There is also a strong international demographic, outlining the course’s reputation overseas.