UT Student is Recipient of TXSES Scholarship
Edited by Lucy Stolzenburg
Stephanie Matyas, a senior engineering student at UT Austin, is the recipient of a $1500 scholarship from TXSES, in honor of founding member Dr. Gary Vliet. An honors student with numerous awards and internships to her credit, she became interested in renewable energy earlier this year while studying at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden. While in Stockholm, she took courses in Applied Heat and Power Technology, Advanced Renewable Technology, and Energy Management.
She also participated in two large-scale renewable energy projects. In the first, Vattenfall Energy of Sweden engaged 24 international students to study the potential for thermal energy storage in Vattenfall’s Waste to Energy Plant in Uppsala, Sweden. The ultimate goal was to discover ways to reduce the small oil demand during the peak of the district’s heating season. Biomass energy solutions were investigated by researching different thermal storage technologies currently in operation worldwide.
The second group project faced the task of developing a net-zero energy district in Cape Town, South Africa based on the model of the net-zero energy city Masdar in Abu Dhabi. The goals were ambitious: zero waste, less than one-ton carbon dioxide emission per capita, sustainable water and food, sustainable transportation, green space, and the utilization of renewable energy technologies. To meet these demands, solar, biomass, and wind power were heavily researched. Using HOMER computer software, CO2 emissions were calculated for the proposed district. Stephanie put herself in a systems engineering mindset to incorporate sustainable living into a culture unfamiliar with these energy methods. In the end, the project offered a realistic solution for this task.
Stephanie has already bumped up against some of the hard realities of employment in the renewable energy field. “It’s a little tough to turn down an oil and gas internship that pays $30 an hour for an internship in renewable energy that pays $15,” she said in an interview. Still, she hopes to take part in a future that strives to create an energy system that will benefit the world in future generations. Upon her graduation from the UT Austin in 2011, she looks forward to finding a career which focuses on renewable energy and material science, to be used in the effort to research and develop new sustainable technologies meeting the energy demands of the future.