The beginning of the journey
I’m Romina Belén Puglisi and I’m currently studying Energy’s Engineering at Universidad Politecnica de Catalunya (UPC). Luckily, my campus frequently sends emails to its students with interesting news regarding the university, technology researches or even opportunities for them (related to challenges or volunteering they can apply). That’s how I first found out about the Schneider student competition and Schneider Electric. The challenge sounded very interesting and I loved the idea of working on the project I had in mind for several years, so I decided I would take part in the competition.
It was very difficult to find a teammate (I can’t understand why, but it seems that a lot of people aren’t interested in these kinds of experiences). Fortunately, Eric Punzano, who was my classmate and a friend as active and passionate as me, made an extra effort to find some time in his busy schedule to join me on this amazing adventure! We had little time left to present our idea when we finally agreed to participate together, so we had to rush and prepare our presentation while finding nonexistent free time to meet each other and organize the work to be done. After we submitted our project, we had to wait for the results. We put so much energy and passion into the submission, that the few days that the results were delayed felt like ages. However, you know what? We did it! We were heading to the semi-finals!
At that point, Alicia Melgarejo, our first mentor, and Employer Branding Lead in Spain from Schneider’s Barcelona office contacted us. She invited us to visit the facilities and meet her, as well as our other mentor for the project, Ramón Hormigo, a Solution Architect.
We were marveled to see the modern building and its great features, as well as the wonderful environment where Schneider’s employees work. However, the biggest wonder for me was the meeting itself. Both mentors were very supportive and enthusiastic about the project and helped us to spot many of the weak-points and issues that we didn’t have thought or seen before. Shortly after that, as a result of the redirection that the project was taking (always related to our main idea), we had the opportunity to be mentored as well from Joaquim Daura, ESS Senior Manager, which would be from that point our third mentor. We also received the occasional help from other employees such as Daniel Porras, Employer Branding specialist in Europe and Rebeca Igual, Talent manager, among others.
It still amazes me the passionate and heartfelt help that all Schneider’s employees gave us while working on the project. They encouraged our growth while improving the concept and our understanding of the project itself. Furthermore, they all were just as excited as us about the project! Isn’t it amazing to see so many people involved and motivated in a student’s challenge?
Due to his complicated agenda, which couldn’t match the challenge, Eric had to leave the team. Fortunately, I had the support of Alicia, from the Schneider team, who helped me find a new team member from Schneider’s Internship program: Alejandra Carrillo. But, if you’re looking for a teammate, you can also use the platform tool to find a teammate! After you register, click on the “Teams” tab for your region.
Alejandra took the initial contact about the project in one of the mentors’ meetings, and she liked it, deciding to join the team. At that point, we had little time left for the semi-finals, and we worked together with our natural teamwork, obtaining results we were proud to show to the jury.
This step consisted of a remote presentation through Skype. Both of us were on holiday near the semi-finals, so we connected from different places (I was in Canarias back then) and we prepared the speech during the week and, finally, we presented our project.
The meeting was with Skype Business, which doesn’t work exactly like a normal Skype if you don’t have a business e-mail. As I was on holiday, I had to connect myself at the meeting with the phone, but somehow, I entered the virtual meeting room muted and I couldn’t find a way to change that. It was one moment of crisis because our presentation couldn’t be delayed. Finally, after a couple of minutes, I solved the problem, but we still had lost some of our precious time (I think we had 10 minutes to present in total). Moreover, I couldn’t see the presentation that Alejandra was sharing with everybody from her screen, so I was kind of blind while presenting. However, I think we managed well besides all the issues and the stress.
After a while, the results were released. The winning team was the British “Charge It Up” (Rachel Ramage and Adi Roser) with their great idea meant to provide access to energy to an informal settlement in South Africa.
We didn’t make it. I must admit that I felt heartbroken. Obviously, at that time I had no idea what the other teams’ project was about, however, I had the feeling from the start of this journey until then that we would arrive to the finals. Maybe it was all the enthusiasm and effort we put into it or maybe it was just a hope.
What I didn’t expect was that, few days after that, our team would win the Woman in Energy Award, which would give us the opportunity to join the Grand Final together with all the other regions’ winners. That was astonishing!
Even if our project couldn’t have arrived at the finals, taking part in the challenge, it would have been still worth all the effort and an amazing experience. During the journey, I had the opportunity to meet and work alongside amazing people, who I now consider as friends, and I’m very grateful for that. Nonetheless, I must say that I enjoyed the Grand Final days for the Schneider student competition at Innovation Summit Barcelona.
First, I had the chance to meet even more awesome people: all the regional’ winners (Rachel Ramage, Adrienne Roser, Anna Gabriella Ozatea, Yumi Briones, Ayushi Sinha, Noah Schochet, Nimisha Varma, Naveen Suman, Fidam Abdullayeva, Hossam Ahmed, Miriam Maia, Lucas Pacheco Heringer Batista, Tiancheng Wang, and Xingyi Fan), more Schneider’s employees (Isabelle Kahakura Batista, Yeonjoo Lee, Tina Kao Mylon, Laura Lima Guaitolini, Eva Roca), and more staff that helped to make this a wonderful week (Pablo Sarompas), among many more! All the finalists were students from different backgrounds, and it was amazing to share ideas and opinions with them, to appreciate how they saw the world and to see how they were trying to improve it with their solutions.
Besides this, we had the opportunity to visit Barcelona for the student competition at Innovation Summit Barcelona. At first, I thought I wouldn’t enjoy too much that part. I mean, I live here, and one would think that I’ve already seen everything around. I couldn’t be more wrong!
Can you believe that went for the first time inside La Sagrada Familia?! I always thought it was a normal church and I didn’t find it very interesting. But it is just amazing! It’s like an explosion of colors and lights and shadows. As people say: “Don’t judge the book by its cover”. If you ever come to Barcelona, don’t miss it!
To make it more special, we were followed but two cheerful and professional photographers, who recorded us during those days. It felt as if we were like superstars because they took our pictures the entire time.
We also did a hilarious activity, visiting all the most remarkable places in Barcelona by… GoCarts! I can’t express how much I loved that part. I was used to driving in those streets, and I knew how to drive safely in Barcelona, so I was able to fully enjoy the whole experience as if I was a child and have fun together with Lucas Heringer, who trusted me enough to let me drive.
Finally, but not least, we were able to visit the Innovation Hub at the Innovation Summit, which was overwhelming, but it gave us a much bigger perspective of Schneider’s technology and the values of the company itself.
Grand Finals at Innovation Summit
We all were nervous on the day of the finals. You could feel it in the air. Team after team, everybody presented. Many projects, many great ideas. I could almost forget about my own presentation and the challenge while hearing those solutions that were so impressive and made me think in a different way.
At some point, it was our turn. The day before, Alejandra and I had been practicing our speech until the very last moment and, because I was very anxious about the finals, she told me something that really impacted me: “Forget about the finals. We’re here to inspire them with this project in order to make it happen because we want things to change”. While heading to the front of the room, I remembered what she told me the previous day and I felt a boost of energy. For me, we were no longer finalists from a challenge or at least I forgot about it. We were a team that wanted to work for a better world and aspired to show people that it was possible. I think we did an amazing job and I have the feeling that we were able to inspire those people, which fulfills me with joy.
Nimisha Varma and Naveen Suman won the 2019 Schneider student competition, Schneider Go Green, with their Aloe E-cell project. After just a couple of days, the whole group of finalists felt like dear friends, so we shared all their joy with them for their accomplishment and rushed to congratulate them. If you can have a look at their project, please do! I have the feeling that their idea could change the future of energy storage.
What Go Green gave me
It may seem that I am repeating myself but what I most value from this adventure is all the people I met during the path and the friends I made. Particularly, I would like to thank my dear teammate Alejandra. She has been an amazing reference for me, and she showed me what teamwork truly means.
After the Grand Finals, we were invited to present our idea at a high school near Barcelona, where we presented it together, and in Madrid for the COP25, where I went alone because Alejandra couldn’t assist due to work.
What’s even more amazing is that, after just two months of the end of the Schneider student competition, Schneider Electric hired me! Now I am part of this great family and I couldn’t be prouder.
I really recommend anybody to take part in the Schneider Go Green global student competition. It can really change your life. Even if you don’t have a great idea or you are not so sure about the one you have, just think that you don’t lose anything by trying and that the mentors will for sure help you to polish it!
There is still time left to register your idea and team on the website: www.gogreen.se.com, so register before time runs out! The winning team will win a trip to Boston with visits to MIT and Greentown Labs! Good luck on your journey!
About the author
Romina Belén Puglisi is a self-proclaimed passionate for knowledge and new experiences who loves to continually challenge herself getting out of her comfort zone. Among many other things, she aims to contribute with her ideas, inventions, and projects to a greener and more sustainable planet. She is confident that a new vision in power sources (especially human energy) is needed and it would be a key factor for the future of the environment and humanity. Romina is a Junior Field Services Engineer at Schneider Electric in Spain and was part of Team Imagym for the Schneider student competition, Schneider Go Green.