Meet the Industry - Behind the Scenes

An in depth interview with student leaders Jóhann Mar Ólafsson and Daniel Einarsson


REYKJAVIK, March 24 - Like all graduate students at the Iceland School of Energy, Daníel Einarsson and Jóhann (Jói) Mar Ólafsson spend much of their time studying diligently, producing quality work in their numerous classes. And as is true for many ISE graduate students, their involvement does not stop there. Taking their degrees in Sustainable Energy Science one step further, Daníel and Jói have over the past eight months, since their program began, created added value to the entire ISE student body by leading the traditional Meet the Industry events.

For years ISE students have stayed up-to-date with local businesses and organizations who specialize in services and technologies related to sustainable energy. Based on the relevance to current internships, thesis topics or simply overwhelming interest, students have in the past reached out and invited respective companies to discuss their cutting edge projects and research. The mantle has been passed down from student leaders to successors for years, with the responsibilities now on the able shoulders of Daníel and Jói. Digging into their experiences over the past year they explain,

The whole process starts off with brainstorming what companies to bring in and what would be interesting for a lot of our classmates. We're trying to encompass many different fields and interests. Eventually we land on with a topic and then research who is doing something interesting and innovative. And it's not just geothermal - it always is the first thing people think about here in Iceland when it comes to energy. And believe us, we get it, we're both geologists so it's the first thing on our mind as well. Still, our group is so diverse that we really try to consider everyone.

From there, the hunt begins with the duo sending out emails to select companies. Daníel goes on to share,

Every time we've had to start from scratch. Cold calls and cold emails. "Hi, our names are Daníel and Jói... we are hosting an exclusive event called Meet the Industry" and so on. We ask prospective speakers if they would like to come to Reykjavik University and give a talk about their company to our rather specialized graduate student group. These presentations usually go into what their company is doing exactly along with their current, past and future projects, followed by a Q&A period. It's always good marketing on their behalf and we try and show how beneficial the event is for all parties. A lot of times we end up getting "yes or no" replies and when a company we want says "yes", it's go-time.

By now, Daníel and Jói have a few Meet the Industry events under their belts and have become quite good at the whole process. Jói elaborates,

From event to event, we try and mix it up. Daníel and I try to get people from all sorts of companies and professions. The first meet the industry event we did back in October when we hosted the founder, owner and CEO of Environice, Stefán Gíslason. That was an awesome way to kick off the semester. Next we brought in Ingólfur Eyfells, a former project manager from Landsnet who discussed the 66 kV submarine power-cable connection between Landeyjarsandur and Heimaey he managed. It really varies. This week we had a group from Svarmi ehf. come in to talk about their specialized work with unmanned areal vehicles for advanced aerial photography, GIS mapping and monitoring.

Both Daníel and Jói agree that the whole process is inspiring for the students that attend. They go on to express,

Many times students feel unsure what they can do when they graduate, when in actual fact the possibilities are endless. That's what these Meet the Industry events are for. You wouldn't necessarily think about these projects or even fields as applicable to you if you didn't come to these Meet the Industry events. Take Svarmi for example. They are doing so many things with their custom drones that you wouldn't have thought possible. It was a big deal for our students, seeing a start-up company that is now developing into something more. We're always satisfied when after the Q&A period ends, a few students go up to chat with the speaker(s) and make those connections. We feel like we've done our work well - that it made an impact on someone's career.

The duo will continue to host these events until eventually they too will pass the torch onto someone else. Until then, students and staff alike look forward to what the next Meet the Industry has in store.


About Iceland School of Energy

By bringing together the best from industry and academia, Iceland School of Energy provides a unique, and comprehensive training for its students. A wide range of courses taught by the very best in their field open a broad spectrum of possibilities for students and allow for individual study designs. Focus is put on close collaboration with industry experts while maintaining high academic quality of the work.

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