Student profiles

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

  • Picture1_1650556915672

Current Students

Nicole Bird, USA

Sustainable Energy, Class of 2022

Name: Nicole Bird

Age: 27

Hometown:  Grass Lake, Michigan 

Academic Background:  B.Sc. Geological Engineering from Michigan Technological University

Major & Class: Sustainable Energy Science, Class of 2022

Could you share with us a little bit about where you are from and your academic journey before attending Iceland School of Energy?

I grew up in Grass Lake, Michigan on a pine tree farm, and then moved to Bremthal, Germany for a year and a half for my mom's work. Later we moved to Lake Orion, Michigan. Prior to attending ISE, I studied at Michigan Tech and went to Japan for a semester on a cultural exchange during my 3rd year of university where I learned about teaching English to foreigners. After graduating I moved to Thailand where I took a teaching course and obtained a TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) Nicole

Certificate. Then I taught English, Art, Music, Physical Education, Science, and more as a homeroom teacher in a small town in northern Thailand for a year. I did not like teaching and went home and joined Engineers Without Borders Detroit Chapter, working on a rainwater catchment system for a community on the Amazon River in Peru by means of an NGO that contacted us. I mapped the community and learned about GIS (Geographic Information Systems) certification at Michigan State University, which consisted of four courses. I received my certificate in February 2020.

Why did you choose Iceland School of Energy for your graduate studies?
I actually chose it on a whim. I was depressed after coming back from Thailand and wanted to move back to Japan, but didn't want to teach. I enjoyed my work in Engineers Without Borders and felt like I was making a difference, and saw some jobs in renewable energy and a lot of graduate opportunities in Europe for recent graduates. I thought of Iceland because my professors in my department would talk about Iceland and geothermal energy. I applied to both the Sustainable Energy Science and Engineering program and was accepted into both. I felt like if I didn't go I would have regretted it and always would have wondered what could have happened if I went.

  Image Description: Nicole in her Physical Education uniform in Thailand.

Do you have an idea of what you'd like to do after you graduate from Iceland School of Energy?

I am hoping to be accepted into a graduate program to get trained in different departments of a company. I want to find out things I like and don't like because there are so many different jobs that you probably don't know about, or don't know you'd be interested in (until you try it). I would ideally love to live in Japan or somewhere in East or South East Asia, and I am hoping to work at a multinational company that allows me to transfer to an office there.

Could you tell us a bit about your experience working on your thesis this past year?

I was in Ljubljana, Slovenia working on my thesis where I was researching the energy community of Luče, Slovenia. I was working at the Laboratory of Energy Policy (LEST) at the University of Ljubljana. I really loved Slovenia; the country is so beautiful and is very diverse considering how small it is. There are incredible caves, so many forests, really blue rivers and lakes, and really small and cute alpine villages. Even the capital, Ljubljana, feels quaint and was so easy to walk around, and the architecture is so beautiful. There were also a lot of food events and a burger and beer festival where I had an octopus burger- it was so good, I had it for brunch and dinner! It was also a great location because everything is about a 1.5 to 2 hour bus ride away, which was great for doing day trips.


           Image description: Octopus Burger, photo taken by Nicole in Ljubljana during the Burger and Beer festival.

What are you working on for your master's thesis?

My thesis involved researching the energy community of Luče in Slovenia. Luče is a small farming village in the Alps and the energy community there consists of 9 houses with solar PV installations, 5 households batteries, and one community battery. I am looking at how battery storage, power quality, and weather and seasons affect the self-sufficiency of the energy community. I do not have an Electrical Engineering degree so I had to learn a lot along the way. I learned how to use Python, which was the most difficult thing for me, but I now feel more confident coding.


 Image Description: Photo taken by Nicole in Luce, Slovenia.

What do you enjoy about living in Iceland?

I like how walkable Reykjavik is and the nice biking and walking trails. I also like the weather with the mild winters and summers. I get migraines a lot from the heat so the summer here is perfect for me, and I love wearing sweaters. I never used my winter coat here, just nice wool sweaters and something rain/windproof which is really nice because there were harsh winters where I did my undergraduate degree. So it was a nice change here with the proper stuff for wind and rain. My roommate here taught me how to knit and I have made 4 sweaters from Icelandic wool. I also like the daylight in the summers because you can go to work or school and go home and still feel like you have free time to do things because it is still light outside. 


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