Raw experience: Richard West
“I’ve never had a job that is any way worthwhile until now. I never had a job that I felt made the world any better – this gives me the potential to do that.”
Richard has been a Student on the Renewable Energy and the Built Environment course at CAT since September last year. He is doing the course part time over two years. Here he reflects on what he has got out of the course, and his motivation for taking it.
I work in the construction industry on the technical side although most of my career was in IT. I never really aimed for IT, but I always just sort of gravitated towards it. I’ve always drifted in my career up until this point and then I made a conscious decision that this is what I wanted to do, that I wanted to be involved in renewable energy.
CAT seemed like the obvious route to do that. For me at least it has always held a sort of mystique as a world leading place where they push the boundaries. I’m not quite sure they do push the boundaries any more because most of the boundaries have been broken. But they certainly practice what they preach and they certainly have a long history of understanding the way these sorts of thing work because they use them and have been using them for a long time. All the people here who are involved in the course have practical experience of actually working with the technologies that they are teaching us about. They are not geeks from universities who have learned about these things and are teaching us from text books. The are actually engineers who live in the real world, who consult on commercial situations and who understand how things change because they work in this world. They also understand all the regulatory changes because they are affected by them every day and they pass it onto us.
The diversity of students is incredible. They are different ages – everything from recent graduates to retires. We’ve got people with an enormously broad spectrum of world experience and work experience and they all bring something to the table and you can learn something from all of them so just sitting round chatting to them is absolutely fascinating.
I always look forward to it actually. Everybody is friendly, everybody is quite good fun. I can’t think of anybody here who I don’t like and the social aspect of it is good fun. It’s interesting. A lot of the time I have quite a lot of work to do so I can’t necessarily drink in the bar until midnight each night, which otherwise I would love to do. Yeah, it’s good, it’s very good.
I’ve always been interested in it, probably since before it was called renewable energy. As a child I was fascinated by the idea of generating electricity from water or from steam. I’ve always been interested in wood fired heating. Just from the very idea that I could plant a tree and it would grow and years later I could chop it down and derive heat for it – for about ten years my parents house was heated exclusively heated by wood and I was involved in that process. And I think I’ve grown up to value resources in a way that people don’t tend to these days. And so I naturally want to conserve them – it’s in my nature, that’s who I am, that’s what I like to do. I find it very unfulfilling to work in areas where there is a high degree of waste – and there is almost everywhere. I live in London so there’s waste all around me and I just don’t like it – though I contribute to it and I freely admit to that.
I see this as a way of doing something that is a bit more more worthwhile and putting something back. I’ve never had a job that is any way worthwhile until now. I never had a job that I felt made the world any better. And this gives me the potential to do that. So it’s I suppose it is my need to feel that I am doing something that’s valuable and worthwhile. And I’m hoping this will help me to indulge that need.
WISE (Wales Institut is absolutely excellent, It’s absolutely excellent. I can’t believe that somewhere like CAT has a building like this I mean it’s just absolutely fantastic. I mean just look at it. It’s there’s plenty of space, there’s plenty of light, it’s well ventilated, it’s full of natural materials and it’s just a very calm and pleasing place to be. I wish I lived in a house that was built like this.
Raw Experience is a series or articles on the CAT blog where Students on the Renewable Energy and the Built Environment masters programme describe in their own terms what it is like to study at CAT. This is their raw testament: unedited, unbiased, real.