ITRES Collaboration - University of Bucharest and Iceland School of Energy - Fall 2021 Course and Field Visit


BUCHAREST, October 10 - Our second year ISE students recently had an opportunity to visit Romania as part of a special class through the "Innovative Teaching Methods for Tomorrows' Renewable Specialists" (ITRES) EEA program. This program was launched on October 1st, 2020, as a joint effort between the Iceland School of Energy at Reykjavik University and the Faculty of Physics at the University of Bucharest.

This class included a two week E-Mobility on Chemical Energy Storage online module and one week in Romania between October 15th - 24th to study mobility and relevant renewable energy locations and institutions.

The students who participated in this class and trip to Romania include Andrés Laverde, Noelle Fischer, Arkaitz Manterola, Paula Fernández, Drew Barron, Gloria Gladis Sondakh, Petrea Anna Aðalsteinsdóttir, and Jacob Kaminski. This group trip was led by ISE Development Director, R. Morgan Greene, and ISE Program Manager, Laurentiu "Laurie" Anton. We had the opportunity to interview some of the students involved and here is what they had to say.


How was the country, the land, the people, the food?

  • “The country was very beautiful, and the people were very kind and delightful. The food was very different from the American or Icelandic food that I am used to. But every meal we had, Laurie [who happens to be a Romanian and Canadian citizen] shared the importance of the dish and what it meant to the Romanian people. It definitely made the food more special.” – Noelle
  • “Romania is amazing from many points of view. The people are super welcoming and warm. As a Spanish speaker, I felt that it was easier to get a connection with the language and culture since it is a romance language. The food is incredible there. The meals that we tried were mainly meat-based. It is definitely worth trying all the dishes they have, especially the traditional ones. Desserts are also a great part of the food culture. With respect to the land itself, there are huge differences between the city and the countryside. Bucharest is a big city and also very industrialized, but when you travel outside, the towns tend to have more traditional architecture. I found that nature is very well conserved in the countryside with huge forests.” – Andrés
  • “I also have to mention the delicious foods we had. The Romanian diet seems to be centered mainly on meat and cheese, especially pork. But I think my favorite food we tried has to be the desert we were given most nights: Papanasi, a delicious cheese-doughnut.” - Drew


How did you find the academic aspect of this course?

  • “The videos and presentations were very helpful and informative. These focused on many aspects of the hydrogen fuel cells and a bit of python programming. In Romania it was helpful and amazing to see an example of electrolysis, compressed hydrogen, and how the fuel cells work. I learned so much from course, and highly suggest others to take this course to increase their knowledge.” – Noelle
  • “The online work for the course was really interesting. It was a brief introduction to hydrogen production and how it can be coupled with renewable energy sources. Then when we visited the university, we saw the applications in small laboratory examples on how water electrolysis works to produce hydrogen.” – Andrés
  • “The academic coursework for the class was good and especially helpful for me doing a thesis around hydrogen and fuel cells. It was really interesting to be able to see some electrolyzers and fuel cells in person at the university labs during the trip.” - Drew


How were the extracurricular activities? Hanging out, bonding, zip-lining, nights by the fire?

  • “Although we did a lot of course work before and during the week, we had downtime to explore the Bucharest and Romania. We were able to see the People's Palace, explore downtown Bucharest. My favorite part of Bucharest was seeing the different types of architecture. We also drove to Transylvania. Here we saw Dracula's (Bran) Castle and learned about the history. We also took a lovely hike with a few students from the SAE department. We also visited Peles Castle, which was the first castle built for electricity, with a micro-hydropower plant.” – Noelle
  • “All the places we visited, the food, bonding with classmates/friends were the main point of the trip. Even though we learned a lot, we also had time to get to know each other much better during all the activities we did. Definitely one of the best was going to the aquatic park and hiking.” – Andrés
  • “Aside from the academic aspect of the trip, the extra curriculars were awesome too. We seemed to be in Romania at a perfect time and got nice sunny, warm weather that was coupled with beautiful fall foliage. I think my favorite visit was driving up to the Sinia area and touring Peleș castle. Another aspect I really enjoyed about the trip was getting to spend more quality time outside of school with my fellow ISE students and taking part in fun activities like the tree top ropes course.” - Drew
  • “One most memorable aspect of the Romania trip that I will treasure forever is all the bonding that occurred between the eight of us. Due to covid, we did not meet each other until late spring of 2021. But with the trip, we all learned about each other more than just in an academic sense. One example is that Morgan learned how much snacks Arkaitz, Petrea, and I consume, or which genre of books or podcasts we enjoy. At the end of the week, we went zip-lining and then ended the night and trip with a bonfire. This trip gave the opportunity to not only learn about fuel cells and experience and new country, but I gained seven new friends.” – Noelle


As students from our newest class and future classes pick thesis topics, what areas would the University of Bucharest and/or the 3NANO-SAE Research Centre excel in co-supervising? Their specialties?

  • “If you want to learn about hydrogen fuel cells or their use in public transport, Sanda Voinea and Adriana Balan are wonderful professors. They take the time to answer all of your questions and are really passionate about teaching.” – Noelle
  • “The professors showed us the facilities in the faculty of physics and they have a lot of great equipment for research in material sciences and microscopy. Their specialties are mainly focused on developing materials that optimize hydrogen electrolysis using different methodologies. For example, using nanostructures or designing membranes for fuel cells.” – Andrés
  • “I think increasing two-way exchange with the University of Bucharest would be a great idea. I think two areas that would especially work well for ISE students to focus in collaboration with them would be hydrogen fuel cells and nano structure solar cells. The classwork and labs in our exchange definitely highlighted their expertise in the topics of electrolysis and hydrogen fuel cells. In addition, their work in the 3NANO-SAE Research Center on nano tubes for PV solar cells seems extremely interesting and useful as energy systems continue to transition towards more sustainable sources.” - Drew

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Favorite parts of the Romania class/trip?

  • “The whole trip was my favorite. If I had to choose two, the first would be the high ropes course. Here, everyone was supporting each other while they continued the course and faced its challenges. This event really solidified a lot friends between the eight of us. My second favorite memory is our hike to the witches and mushrooms with Sanda, Adriana and the SAE students. This was a long hike, and it gave us a lot of opportunity to talk to each other about interests and their lifestyles in Romania. They were a great group. I think many of us ISE kids exchanged Instagram and Facebooks information with the SAE kids. Overall, it was such a great trip!” – Noelle
  • “My favorite parts were the aquatic park, Therme, with amazing installations for a really cheap price; going to the countryside and visiting the castles; seeing autumn colors for the first time was incredible; getting to know classmates and the teachers too.” – Andrés
  • “Overall, the Romania trip was awesome. Our hosts at the university and at the lodging we stayed in were all so nice. Everyone we met was really nice and helpful, and it was great to meet both the professors and the students at the university. I really enjoyed making some personal bonds and hearing about everyone's work, both for school and outside of the university.” - Drew

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Interesting things you learned about Romania, University of Bucharest and/or the 3NANO-SAE Research Centre?

  • “One interesting fact I learned was about Bran Castle and Queen Marie. Queen Marie is quite the role model. During WW1, Queen Marie arrived uninvited to a meeting and encouraged her husband to turn against Germany. During the war she volunteered as a nurse. She also represented Romania at the Paris Peace conference. ” - Noelle
  • “Visiting the building where the most powerful laser in the world is located was awesome. I learned a lot about the processes involved in shooting the laser and how did they manage to use it for applications in nuclear physics. ” - Andrés


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