Student profiles

A few of ISE's students answer some questions about their study experience and living in Iceland.

ISE Internships

Gaynor McIlraith, Canada

Former student intern at Landsvirkjun

Name: Gaynor McIlraith
Age: 23
Hometown: Toronto, Canada
Academic Background: B.Sc. in Environmental and Geological Sciences, Queen's University, Canada
Major & Class: Sustainable Energy, Class of 2018

With whom did you intern?

Landsvirkjun, The National Power Company of Iceland.

How did you find your internship opportunity?

The internship position was offered through a partnership between RU and Landsvirkjun. My Program Manager, Morgan, was very helpful with the application process and in incorporating my interests into the role of the internship. 

What project did you work on in your internship?

The project was to determine the best possible sites for an offshore wind farm around Iceland. My role was to evaluate the trends in offshore wind globally to determine if it could be an economically viable option for Iceland's energy future. This included researching government support systems, estimating initial investment costs, and determining the most cost effective technologies to produce an efficient output, given Iceland's physical conditions. Ultimately, an LCOE for each possible location was produced to directly compare the sites to each other, as well as with other offshore wind farms globally. 

What did you enjoy the most?

Offshore wind is a technology that is growing exponentially and costs have seen dramatic decreases in the past few years. I really enjoyed being at the forefront of a growing technology, dealing with factors as crucial as costs in an energy project. 

What were your biggest challenges?

It was very difficult to find exact numbers that were necessary to compare the projects and estimate a total investment cost. In addition, since a wind farm is designed for a specific location, comparing the locations directly was challenging. For example, there is no one size fits all electrical cable that could be used in each location. Not only did this impact the results with the total costs, but it also demanded using varying sources, which also introduced an error within the results.

How did this internship help your career?

I'm hoping to carry wind energy into my career. This internship helped me to understand the foundations of investment and introduced me to the leading companies and technologies in the field. The work also helped my understanding of the accounting costs of an energy project, a fundamental skill that I will take with me into my future. 

How did it compliment your studies at ISE?

This internship presented me with aspects of energy that I hadn't been exposed to through the courses offered at RU. It introduced me to an industrial perspective and allowed me to produce a result that was meaningful in the real world. I learned a lot through this internship that I wouldn't have otherwise, and made great connections that I have carried through into my thesis.  

What advice do you have for future students?

Go for an internship that introduces you to a new aspect of energy; take a risk, do something different! The internships provide a huge opportunity to expose yourself to something different in industry, and regardless of the outcome, it will provide you with a better understanding of what you're interested in pursuing in the future. 

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.

Iceland School of Energy is part of and accredited by the School of Science and Engineering at Reykjavik University in Iceland.

>> See all programmes