Summer School Experience: Learning about sustainable engineering at the British University in Dubai
By Oldřich Jandl, BEng (Hons) Electronics and Electrical Engineering, 2023
As my final year university duties came to a close, finding enough time for graduation responsibilities, family commitments, as well as my travel plans seemed daunting.
Nonetheless, I couldn’t resist the wonderful opportunity my university offered – a summer school at the British University in Dubai (BUiD) focused on exploring sustainable tactics with ambitious students from diverse backgrounds in a new cultural setting.
The week-long experience in Dubai was filled with group activities, fun competitions, and two half-day trips. Our team’s proudest achievement was creating a sustainable garden, showcasing our communication skills and team work as we worked tirelessly to gather resources in a limited time frame.
Although we didn’t win that particular competition, presenting our project to BUiD’s Chancellor, sponsors, and other teams during the final ceremony was truly rewarding. Thankfully, our team’s success in several other puzzle competitions ensured we didn’t walk away empty-handed.
One session that left a lasting impact on me was the talk about biomimicry – seeking effective and aesthetic solutions in engineering and architecture by mimicking nature. Witnessing real-life examples, like the super-efficient headquarters of the environmental consultancy BEE’AH, or the trains we took whose design was inspired by the kingfisher bird, was awe-inspiring.
Equally fascinating was our visit to a free zone (which provides advantageous tax and economic conditions for businesses) in nearby Sharjah, where I saw the nurturing environment for numerous UAE start-ups. The office park seemed an attractive place to turn engineering business ideas into reality, and I could imagine my career leading me here at some point
Amid all the learning and exploration, my favourite moments were the evenings spent with the six other students from the University of Edinburgh, from across engineering disciplines and years of study, who went to Dubai as well. We bonded over shared experiences, reflecting on information-packed sessions, and trying out local cuisine, becoming close-knit in just a week.
What I learned
Reflecting on this enriching journey, I urge others to embrace new experiences like this with an open mind. With sufficient preparation, you’ll be able to solve practically any challenge which may come in your way. Engage with your peers, embrace different mind-sets, and have meaningful conversations – you will most likely end up doing something unexpected, such as our artistic planting project during the sustainability summer school. Taking the initiative, especially if it’s not your usual style, can lead to an even more profound experience.
Looking back at the beautiful memories from BUiD, I wish every university student could have a similar transformative experience at least once. Embrace opportunities that come your way, step out of your comfort zone, and immerse yourself in diverse cultures and ideas – you never know where they might lead you, and you will personally grow for sure.