Advanced Energy Technologies student Ilja Stanovohh: My future profession probably does not exist yet

Ilja Stanovohh has recently started his master’s studies in the Advanced Energy Technologies major at the Department of Applied Physics. His studies have taken him to visit an educational nuclear reactor in Prague. Outside of studying, Stanovohh also works as a research assistant
Ilja Stanovohh
Ilja Stanovohh. Photos: Oona Hilli/ Aalto University

Tackling climate change and finding alternative energy sources are essential to your major, Advanced Energy Technologies. Why did you decide to choose these studies from the Master's Program in Engineering Physics?

I did a minor subject in nuclear physics from master’s studies as part of my bachelor's degree. I'm very interested in it, and the course was exactly what I was hoping for. The encouraging minor studies inspired me to apply for the Advanced Energy Technologies major. 

In the Advanced Energy Technologies major, we study many different forms of energy tech, such as light and fuel cells, solar energy, and fusion and fission energy. It’s fun to understand the various forms of energy technology. Once you do, you can start looking at how to re-develop them. The world needs solutions to energy issues now, and that means continuous learning.

I also chose this major because energy is a very hot topic at the moment. I am interested in green energy and politics. The energy crisis has highlighted how energy resources are unevenly distributed in the world. At the same time there is more discussion about self-sufficiency in energy production. We study how to do this in a sustainable way.

This spring the most memorable part of my studies was a course that took us to Prague to visit an educational nuclear reactor

Ilja Stanovohh

What have you liked about your master’s studies so far?

Compared to my undergraduate studies, we have had more projects. Group projects can be related to the subject of the course, like fuel cells. Based on the new knowledge from the course, we students work together as a group and try to find the best way to use energy technology at hand. 

In the courses, we can choose to do a project or an exam. That is convenient because it gives us more flexibility. I particularly like the projects, because you can apply the knowledge you have gathered up to that point. I like the fact that I can understand exactly how different, specific systems work. An example of this is finding the cause of voltage drops in fuel cells. You break down the different factors and then try to illustrate the findings. Then you can try to mitigate the voltage drops.

This spring the most memorable part of my studies was a course that took us to Prague to visit an educational nuclear reactor. It was incredible to see it for real: the pool of water and the uranium in it. We were able to watch from above the beginning of a nuclear reaction and see what happens. We also did various experiments ourselves. The trip lasted a week, and there were about ten students. In the evenings we explored and enjoyed the city together.

Ilja Stanovohh

From your studies, what do you think is most useful to you in your professional life?

I feel that everything I learned during my master’s studies up to this point has been useful and prepares me for my future jobs. My studies give me the tools to work independently.

For example, in our mathematics courses we have studied optimization—which, in my view, is practical mathematics. An assistant in one of the courses told me that he himself works in the energy sector and uses optimization in his work. It is a basic, everyday tool in the industry, and our studies showed us how to use it. 

What are your expectations for the future?

At the moment I want to do research. I have worked part-time as a research assistant while studying and full-time during last and this summer. Later, I would like to work on nuclear reactors. For example, I could begin my career as an operator, who is responsible for starting the reactor and taking care of safety. I would like to work specifically with nuclear energy, but my future profession probably does not exist yet.

I have the feeling that, although I don't know exactly what my future profession will be, I am going in the right direction. Green energy is essential; development must go in that direction, and I want to be part of it.

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