EUREC Master students at the European Parliament
Six masters’ students in the field of Renewable Energy, from the European Renewable Energy Centre (EUREC), headed a fruitful debate at the 5th European innovation Summit at the European Parliament in Brussels. During 45 minutes, Juliana Montoya, Ahmad Al Halawani, Naim Majdalani, Giorgos Kourtellos, Jan Pagan and Santiago Vaca, led a forum with some European Union commissioners, representatives of the energy industry and professors who are experts on the subject. "Having other people was really fruitful; we even had some of them from outside of the European Union and I think this was the first time we did this (…) thank you especially for the preparation leading up to it,” said Lambert van Nistelrooij, chair of the Knowledge4Inovation forum of the European Parliament Governing Board. Around 60 people participated in the debate that took place at the members’ Salon of the European Parliament on October the 1st, 2013. The event was conducted by Wim van Gemert, professor of Energy Innovation of Hanze University of Applied Sciences, where the six students are currently realizing their thesis on renewable energy. "We included young people in this kind of debate because in 2050 all of us will be dead, except for the younger people, so it makes sense to ask for their point of view about Europe in the 2050’s,” explained professor Gemert. Giorgos Kourtellos, Naim Majdalani and Jan Pagan addressed issues related to the influence of energy transition in education and innovation.
"I think this is a very important topic, because we have seen from the past that you need to prepare way ahead of time. They are already thinking about 2020 which is good, but if we start to think about 2050 and we see that we need a very radical change in the way we view things, now is the time to start preparing it, educating the new generation and changing any kind of large system may take time”, said Naim Majdalani. On the other hand, Juliana Montoya, Ahmad Al Halawani and Santiago Vaca, focused on the energy transition related to technology and resources. "Is a great honour to be in the European parliament (…) I think is interesting for them to hear our vision, these are policy makers after all, or important people of the industry, so I hope that our vision will help them to create a better Europe”, expressed Ahmad Al Halawani. Each of the six tables shared the main conclusions of the debate, which were: "to change the mind set to innovate,” "to implement a common language on the European Union education,” "to boost cooperation between universities and companies,” "the importance of sharing information”, etc. "We are talking about a way of life the Europeans have been used to, and they would like to continue living, but if they don’t make these changes it will be taken away from them. By having strong educational systems, better communication, cooperation and a common language you have the foundation to create the best innovation possible,” concluded Jan Pagan.
When the event finished some of the participants expressed their impressions. "It is very important to communicate from different angles, and from different levels. For the summit this year we said -we need young people because they may take us in some other direction, instead of just the policy making in the political debates-, if we see what has come out in just ¾ of an hour…wow, why haven’t we done this before?”, said Lambert van Nistelrooij. "There were nice insights, relevant discussions, an exchange of ideas from different perspectives, students, politicians, industry leaders, this will help us to create awareness on the future of energy”, commented Dr. Sergey Filippov Professor of Delft University of Technology. "The event was very inspiring, one could tell that the expositors were prepared because they are dealing with this topics daily,” said the European Commisionate Ms. Rebecca Beiz. The 5th European Innovation Summit seeks to "wake up" Europe in the field of innovation, to build paths for the implementation of future smarter new policies and to help Europe reach its full potential for innovation.