"Working together for a sustainable, climate-neutral future"

Photo: Prof. Dr.-Ing. Sabine Bschorer (source: THI)

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Sabine Bschorer, head of the bachelor's degree program in Energy Systems and Renewable Energies at Ingolstadt University of Applied Sciences (THI), talks in an interview about opportunities and possibilities for a climate-friendly future and why people should choose to study at THI.

Prof. Dr. Bschorer, how can we still stop climate change?
Only with committed, immediate action can we achieve limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, as envisaged by the Paris Climate Agreement, and thus prevent drastic climate change. This will require significant energy savings in the electricity, heating and transport sectors, with greater use of renewable energies. Research and knowledge transfer on these topics take place at our university.

You are head of the Energy Systems and Renewable Energies bachelor's degree program at THI. What is this degree program about?
The question of a secure, climate-friendly, sustainable, but also inexpensive energy supply is currently one of the most pressing. The Energy Systems and Renewable Energies degree program is specifically concerned with solving the following problems: How can we generate energy sustainably in the course of the energy transition, then distribute and use it efficiently, i.e. with as little loss as possible? How can we reduce our overall energy consumption? This is reflected in our study content. We are looking at aspects of climate-friendly and sustainable energy generation, the intelligent distribution of energy and its storage. We also look at new mobility concepts, such as electromobility and other alternative propulsion options, such as hydrogen and methane. The area of climate-friendly construction and renovation also plays an important role, of course.

What distinguishes the course of study?
It deals with the energy technology of individual components, but also with entire energy systems, i.e. the networked energy supply of houses, communities, companies, entire regions. This makes it possible, for example, to advise municipalities and work in companies to help them achieve their climate neutrality goals. Digitalization and now also artificial intelligence are playing an increasingly important role in this.
The degree program offers very good opportunities to go abroad during your studies, whether for a theory semester at one of our many foreign cooperating universities or as part of an internship semester. For example, students told me enthusiastically about their study visit to Denmark near the offshore wind farms. Another student raved about her internship with a solar company in Namibia.
The teaching professors work simultaneously in our Research Institute for New Energy Systems (InES) with almost 20 years of experience and contact to many cooperating companies. Thus, there is a strong interlocking between teaching, research and practice. This knowledge, and that of external experts, is also passed on to the students and interested members of the public within the framework of the lecture series "Energy - Environment - Sustainability", which I organize.

The course is part of the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering. How does the subject of energy relate to mechanical engineering?
In order to understand how a wind turbine or a combined heat and power plant works, for example, you need knowledge of mechanical engineering. This is specifically taught as part of the course. At the end of their studies, students have a wide range of knowledge relating to energy technology, mechanical engineering, but also electrical engineering. At THI, we also attach great importance to a high level of practical relevance. In our laboratories, students can work on large-scale equipment from the fields of bioenergy, solar energy and building services engineering. Currently, of course, this is done under the necessary hygienic measures. The course includes study projects, a practical semester and a bachelor's thesis, in which students can test their theoretically acquired knowledge in companies as well as make contacts.

Movements like Fridays for Future show that young people are very interested in the issues of climate change, environmental protection and sustainability, and many want to get involved here. Are they in the right place with you?
Absolutely. For young people who want to work professionally for a more sustainable and climate-neutral future, our degree program offers an excellent basis. In fact, many of our students choose to study with us for this very reason. They have the impression that politicians are doing too little to counteract climate change and want to do something themselves. Another aspect that speaks in favor of studying in this field is that as a graduate, you can later count on a secure job that is relevant to the future.

What are the concrete career opportunities for your graduates?
There are very many different starting points and a correspondingly broad field in which our graduates can work after graduation. Here in the region, there are numerous companies that manufacture energy technology such as heat pumps, solar storage units and solar collectors, and plan, set up and manage energy supplies. There are also job opportunities with energy suppliers, such as municipal utilities, or in engineering consulting offices. Many large companies, such as AUDI, are currently working on becoming climate-neutral. Here, too, there are interesting opportunities and exciting tasks. The step into self-employment as an energy consultant is also an option for which the graduates of our study program are well trained. Finally, the path to research is also open. At the THI, there is the option of additionally completing a master's degree in Renewable Energy Systems or a research master's degree and then earning a doctorate. You don't even have to go far afield to do this. THI's Institute for New Energy Systems offers PhD students exciting research topics.

It sounds like the job prospects are very good. So your students generally find their way into working life quickly after graduation?
Yes, we can confirm that. The industry has a lot to offer, and with the increasing awareness of more sustainability and climate friendliness, more and more new career opportunities are opening up.

Due to the Corona pandemic, one may have the impression recently that the topic of energy transition is currently less important. How do you see that?
The fact that other topics are currently increasingly in medias focus is understandable in view of this extraordinary situation. However, this does not mean that nothing is happening with the energy transition. On the contrary, there is now a great deal of momentum in the region. Examples include this year's Virtual Ingolstadt Sustainability Days or the founding of the IN-Zukunft sustainability network. With Petra Kleine, Ingolstadt now has a third full-time mayor, who is responsible in particular for the topic of environment and climate and who has recently been supported by a climate manager. A lot is also happening in the business community. Awareness of the need to conserve resources in production is growing, and there are numerous dedicated environmental officers, and not just in the big companies. Climate protection also plays a major role at our university. In Neuburg an der Donau, the new THI campus is being designed with sustainability in mind. We will also establish a university sustainability institute in close cooperation with our research institute and expand our range of courses in this area in the future.

If you now want to apply for a place on the Energy Systems and Renewable Energies degree program, what requirements should you bring with you?
First of all, you should know that the program is not subject to admission restrictions. This means that you can apply directly online via the THI's applicant portal. The prerequisite is a university entrance qualification.

Until when can I apply and where can I find further information?
Students can begin their studies in the summer and winter semesters. Currently, you can apply until January 15 for a start in the coming summer semester, which begins on March 15. Further information can be found at www.thi.de/go/studium.
Currently, we offer online information sessions for prospective students. These will take place on Dec. 16, 2020, starting at 7 p.m. and on Jan. 7, 2021, starting at 5 p.m. Information in advance is available on our homepage under "Events".
We welcome applicants who would like to join us in our commitment to a sustainable, climate-neutral future.