Solar, Wind and Hydro: a REBE Student’s Experiences at CAT

Julian is a former student on the MSc Renewable Energy and the Built Environment course at CAT. Here he explains why he decided to study for a Masters and what made CAT so appealing. 

I joined the MSc REBE course at CAT in September 2010 and studied on a part time basis, culminating with the hand in of my thesis in January 2013. Happily I passed with a merit.

I found CAT both challenging and fun. The background of some of the students was diverse and the knowledge of the teaching staff was excellent. I found them very encouraging and patient – happy to explain some of the more tricky aspects of the modules over a beer or two after the lectures.

I found myself on the course more by chance than by design – I came to Aberystwyth with my wife, Emma, who had been awarded a studentship to study for a PhD at Aberystwyth University. I looked into the possibility of buying a house nearby and one we found that happened to have a stream running across the land. The house was quite isolated and so I was curious to see if the stream could be used to run a small generator. I scoured the internet for more information. My ‘Googling’ brought up the CAT website and so I paid a visit – mainly to look at their micro hydro books in the bookshop. At around the same time, I heard there was a job going with Chris Laughton, who runs The Solar Design Company in Machynlleth. I had completed a BSc in Astrophysics back in the early ‘90s and Chris needed someone with a science background to help sell and train users in his solar PV & thermal simulation software. It seems I was in the right place at the right time – suddenly I was working in the renewables industry. A little later I realised that I needed to expand my understanding of renewables – perhaps by taking a course or two. And that’s when CAT came back to mind. Just a few weeks later I was enrolled on the MSc REBE course.

Julian in his new job at GL Garrad Hassan

One of the courses I really enjoyed at CAT was the wind module. Here I was introduced to WindFarmer software, which was made by the renewable energy consultants, GL Garrad Hassan. I did a bit more research into this company and, coincidentally, a job came up at GL Garrad Hassan which was very similar to my existing role – only in wind instead of solar. So I swotted up on the wind module course notes, read a couple more books and filled in the job application form. I got an interview and was offered (much to my amazement) a job. Without the CAT course behind me this would simply not have been a possibility. Ten months later I’m still here. The work is very interesting and diverse. I am surrounded by some really smart and creative people and there are lots of opportunities to progress and develop.

So that’s the story – a series of chance events and an unplanned MSc from CAT which, a few short years later led to me to my current role as a WindFarmer Specialist. Would I recommend the CAT course to others – most definitely!

GL Garrad Hassan is the world’s largest renewable energy consultancy and a recognized technical authority. The company provides independent technical and engineering services, products and training courses to the onshore and offshore wind, solar, wave and tidal sectors. Global clients include renewable energy developers, investors and lenders, manufacturers, construction firms, owner/operators, insurers and large-scale utility firms. GL Garrad Hassan has more than 30 years’ experience and has provided consulting services on thousands of renewable projects. The company has a rich heritage borne of the integration of specialist companies that, united, form the renewable energy consulting division of the GL Group. GL Garrad Hassan is a consulting company and has no equity stake in any device or project. This rule of operation is central to its philosophy and sets it apart from competitors. 


Find out more about CAT’s Masters in Renewable Energy and the Built Environment over on our website