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Hugo's Renewable Dream

Hugo van Buuren (2016) reflects on his time in Edinburgh.
8 May 2020
Old Boy News

Old Boy Hugo van Buuren (2016), pictured, is studying a Bachelor of Science (Mechanical Systems) with concurrent Diploma of Music at The University of Melbourne. As a 2019 recipient of the Churchie Foundation ‘Scholarship for Old Boys’, Hugo recently attended The University of Edinburgh and has penned the following recollections of his experience.

It still feels like a dream when I look back on the past eight months of my life. Never would I have imagined that I could learn, travel and grow so much in such a short amount of time. In 2019, I briefly put my life in Melbourne on hold to study at The University of Edinburgh. This was an opportunity for me to push myself and apply my studies of mechanical engineering in renewable energy applications.

As a city, Edinburgh was everything that I could have wanted. As a keen outdoors person, living at the base of a dormant volcano meant I had running trails galore right at my doorstep! While the Scottish weather, cuisine and limited winter daylight hours were a challenge at first, I began to feel right at home with the help and generosity of the friends I quickly made. With their spirit and wicked senses of humour, settling into my new life was easy as we explored Scotland’s charming cities and breathtaking isles, glens, lochs and munros!

The University’s Institute for Energy Systems is a world leader for research and development in renewable energy. It proved to be a perfect fit for me as I could take fast tracked Honours and Masters course subjects in renewable energy technologies and economics, of which I couldn’t back in Australia. It was fascinating to learn about these renewable energy technologies in class and then explore Scotland and see these

principles in practice at their various hydropower plants and wind farms. Living in a country where 55% of the electricity was produced from renewable sources in 2018 was very exciting to me. Being based in Edinburgh was also fantastic to make many weekend road trips up to the highlands for site visits to these various institutions.

As well as taking part in the university running and music societies, I was fortunate enough to join a team of student engineers called “Winds of Change”. The groups’ project was to design, manufacture and build a one kilowatt wind turbine from scratch to supply power to a community garden and hall on the outskirts of Edinburgh. Working as part of the team responsible for the emergency braking system was incredibly inspiring and served as a great opportunity to connect with other passionate students.

I have a dream of pursuing a career that will help to build Australia’s renewable energy future and I am extremely grateful for the continued support of the Churchie Foundation in helping me achieve this. Australia has a very long way to go to reach their greenhouse emission commitments and renewable energy is undoubtable going to be a staple of our transition to this cleaner future. I am pleased to be a part of the generation that will help drive this change and ultimately create a more sustainable world to live in.

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