Chalmers University of Technology: Championing a more sustainable future, one graduate at a time

When Emma Brimdyr graduated with a dual bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and society, technology and policy, she immediately looked into pursuing a master’s in sustainability in the field. Initially searching for programmes in the US, where she was born and raised, Brimdyr realised that most were relatively new. Exploring options in Europe, she came upon Chalmers University of Technology and knew she had found the right place.

“I’d been telling people that I wanted to study the intersection of society, technology and the environment, and Chalmers’s Industrial Ecology, MSc programme said those exact words on their website,” says Brimdyr. “I wanted to learn from people with experience, so I knew I had to go!”

Chalmers has a long tradition of integrating sustainability work into everything it does. The university aims to contribute to the United Nations’s Sustainable Development Goals through its extensive programmes and approaches.

“While I always liked engineering for the logic, innovation and the need for problem-solving, I was always more interested in the human aspects,” says Brimdyr. Considering questions revolving around how engineering affected society and its people and what could be done to improve the global challenges, she sought a programme that kept to the “engineering mindset but applied with sustainability.”

“I wanted to learn how to look at various problems from a systems perspective and learn how to find and create solutions,” she says.

Chalmers’s Industrial Ecology, MSc held the answer to that. “The teachers would challenge us with ideas, teach us how to evaluate and analyse the sustainability aspects and encourage us to make a difference,” says Brimdyr. “It was really empowering.”

Programmes include courses that equip graduates with the skills to address existing global challenges. With this focus, graduates could enter various industries and champion change.

“When I talked to my fellow classmates, we all agreed that Chalmers taught us how to think with a sustainability mindset,” says Brimdyr. “It taught us how to evaluate a complex problem, reflect on what aspects can contribute to sustainability, and how to balance these sometimes-conflicting needs.”

Now an R&D Sustainability Specialist in Sweden’s ABB Robotics, an industrial robot supplier and manufacturer with a comprehensive and integrated portfolio, Brimdyr applies her Chalmers-forged skills daily. “I’m analysing our current products, identifying ways we can reduce the environmental impact, suggesting new frameworks, creating future targets, following up on regulations and educating colleagues about what it means to be sustainable,” she shares. “I feel like my work can really have an impact, which drives me every day.”

It’s not just the Industrial Ecology, MSc students who feel this way.

The programmes are transformative and game-changing, according to Mobility Engineering, MSc student Halime Selimoglu. Despite having a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering and already working in the aerospace field, she felt none were related to sustainable solutions in aerospace. In a student blog post, she shares that her MSc’s focus on hydrogen-fuelled or electrified aircraft was brand new and exciting. Not only does it take the programme to another level, but she already feels more confident about her future career options despite being only a few months in the programme.

“Mobility is an area that you can never push into the background, especially when it is high time to carry on the whole transportation system towards sustainability,” writes Halime. “If you want to be a part of this massive development, the Mobility Engineering, MSc at Chalmers hits the sweet spot.”

Source: Chalmers University of Technology

This sustainability-focused education goes beyond the classrooms too.

Students take the lead in these efforts made on campus. In a student blog post, Infrastructure and Environmental Engineering, MSc student Lizzie (Ziqi Liu) shares how the university practises general recycling and advocates for the protection of water resources, among other examples. “I can see firsthand that people are paying attention to these issues, and it’s a great feeling to be part of a community that cares so much about the world we live in,” she writes.

Over in the manufacturing sector, Chalmers, alongside two other Swedish universities, is collaborating to contribute to sustainable battery research and electrification of Sweden’s transport sector. The partnership results from Volvo Cars’ plan to establish a new battery manufacturing plant in the university’s city of Gothenburg by 2025, creating up to 3,000 new job opportunities to support Volvo’s strategy of producing only electric cars by 2030. At the university, this push for more research, engineers, and continuous development in these areas will come from competent graduates joining the workforce.

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