ESR03 – Sohaib Qazi – Electric Ships, Bicycles and a Leap of Faith…

About a year ago, I was at crossroads in my life, facing several potentially life-altering decisions… Industry or Academics? Work or Ph.D.? Home or Abroad? As is usual with dilemmas like these, each option has its own pros and cons. Having had a good experience with my thesis as a prelude for research work, I took the cliched “leap of faith” and decided I would pursue a Ph.D. 

Fast forward a few months, and I found myself looking at the innumerable bicycles from the train window as I rode from Amsterdam to Enschede. Having lived my entire life in Kashmir, a terrain not so friendly for biking, the cycling culture was certainly one of the surprises. Of course, once I settled down in Enschede, I got one for myself, and as with anyone living in the Netherlands, it is an important part of my life now.

Bicycle path densities in western Europe showing Dutch dominance
(staying true to the research spirit and proving my point with statistics
Yours truly on his Sparta Ithaka-60 on a rare sunny day in Enschede

While we are on the subject of differences between my home and the Netherlands, it is interesting that the Netherlands has the biggest port in all of Europe. Since Kashmir is landlocked from all sides, I am not really used to being around large vessels which ironically brings me to the topic of my Ph.D. thesis – Electric Ships. While everyone is busy talking about electric cars, it is important to remember that the marine sector also emits a substantial amount of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. So, our research group at the University of Twente with the University of Nottingham is working on a power electronics interface that makes ship electrification more efficient and reliable. I mean it is kind of important… let’s be fair, you wouldn’t want to be stranded on an electric ship in the middle of sea because of a battery failure (might happen if someone like me is involved in the design).

Before you leave, there is one other thing. If you happen to be a huge football fan like I am, the EU is a great place to live in, since all the major clubs are in vicinity. And on weekends or during holidays you can take a break from your work and catch some football action. Last Christmas, I visited the Camp Nou since I have always been a big fan of FC Barcelona. It was a great experience and I highly recommend it…

Inside the Barca museum and the Camp Nou

And I guess that’s a wrap…. Wish me luck with my Ph.D.


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