Akanksha is one of the youngest admits in the Fall 2015 EST&P class. Born and raised in Hong Kong, she majored in Environmental Management and Technology from Hong Kong University and got admitted into the EST&P program with a concentration in Engineering & Public Policy.
Having a background in environmental sciences, Akanksha saw energy as a key concern of today’s landscape and chose the energy concentration path instead of master’s in the hard sciences. She felt CMU had the best program to fit her needs, which made her choose EST&P over other programs who accepted her, including Berkeley and Rice.
Given the learning opportunity and breadth of subjects offered, Akanksha felt that the program length of a year or a year and a half was rather fast paced. For her, the flexibility to choose from different levels and topics in engineering subjects was the most valuable, given her lack of engineering background and the desire to develop those skills.
Akanksha felt the structure and flexibility offered by the program is the most beneficial, especially if an incoming student has some industry experience OR knows what path they want to pursue in the energy space.
Her two favorite classes at CMU were “Energy Policy” taught by Professor Jay Whitacre and “Infrastructure Management” taught by Professor Donald Coffelt. In the Policy course, she enjoyed the engaging class discussions about how policies are designed and how they work, as well as, the interesting reading material. The Infrastructure Management course dealt more with statistics and was a welcoming change that added academic dimensionality to the subjects she chose.
Akanksha worked on various projects and presentations during her first year at CMU, she particularly enjoyed the presentations she did in the energy core mini’s which dealt with nuclear energy and wind power. Not having a background in these areas, this gave her the opportunity to learn about the technicalities and challenges in technology, and markets for these to play a significant role in the energy mix of different countries.
In her first semester, Akanksha applied and was awarded with the Spark Clean Energy fellowship where she interacted with students across the US to stimulate a dialogue on energy – its current situation, transformation and the role of policy. In addition, Akanksha was offered a research project with Professor Yoosuf Picard; this was her first research experience. With guidance and time management, she was able to manage it with the rest of her course load.
Akanksha very actively attends seminars on sustainability and energy. In March, she attended the ARPA-E Summit in Washington DC, through the CMU GSA Conference funding award. She experienced the perspectives from energy experts and government authorities like Ernest Moniz and Al Gore. She took part in the Women in Energy conference and found it enriching to see many women on the panel engaged in energy discussions. Akanksha also attended the 2016 MIT Energy Conference in Boston where she networked with the many industry professional and professors about transformation in the global energy scenario.
Akanksha landed an internship at Arup in NYC for the summer of 2016. She will be responsible for designing micro-grids with focus on resilient infrastructure. Akanksha will be looking for similar full-time positions in energy engineering consulting or analyst when she graduates in December 2016.