Writing a master's thesis at VTT: "Here you can challenge yourself to think outside the box"

Blog post
Nina McDougall

VTT offers various master’s thesis positions for students throughout the year. I was given the opportunity to share my journey as an energy engineering student to becoming a master’s thesis worker at VTT and reflect on my experiences so far.

I am currently finishing my master’s degree in Advanced Energy Solutions at Aalto University. Last summer, I came across VTT’s job advertisement looking for a master’s thesis worker. I had been actively browsing for energy engineering related master’s thesis positions for some time, but I hadn’t yet come across an appealing topic. However, when I read through VTT’s job post, I knew immediately that the thesis topic was everything I had been looking for.

Researching second-life energy storage applications in a flexible and modern work environment

My thesis topic is about repurposing end-of-life electric vehicle batteries for energy storage applications. Repurposing electric vehicle batteries not only extends the lifetime of batteries, thus reducing their carbon footprint, but could also help meet the growing demand for utility-scale battery storage. The environmental benefits and the opportunity to create new sustainable business opportunities make this topic extremely fascinating.  

The thesis is conducted for the EU-funded research project TREASoURcE, which aims to develop systemic circular economy solutions in cities and regions for currently underutilized or unused plastic waste, end-of-life electric vehicle batteries, and bio-based waste and side streams in the Nordics and the Baltic Sea Region. During my first working week, I had the opportunity to participate in the TREASoURcE kick-off meeting, which was a great opportunity to get to know the topic of the thesis and meet the consortium partners.

Thanks to the flexible working hours and the opportunity to work remotely my average working days vary quite a bit. Especially during demanding research activities, I have found remote working to be useful. However, most of the time I prefer to come to the office for the modern workspaces and to spend time with colleagues. The thesis consists of a literature part including a regulatory and state-of-the-art review and an experimental part of stakeholder interviews, so my daily tasks include various research activities and facilitating practical matters.

VTT offers an inspiring workplace with supporting colleagues

VTT is such an inspiring workplace, it excites me to work among such talented and passionate people. The atmosphere is also encouraging as colleagues show interest and support in my research area. Additionally, it has been interesting to learn about the research activities of colleagues, so often their topics relate to timely and important matters, which I find motivating.

I am most grateful for the other two master’s thesis workers Mikko Myrä and Tran Ngo who are also completing their master’s thesis about underutilized plastic waste, and bio-based waste and side streams for the TREASoURcE project. Despite focusing on the different value chains, our research methods are similar, hence it has been beneficial to share our ideas and approaches for different tasks. Also, having each other’s support throughout the thesis has been invaluable.

I warmly recommend everyone who is actively looking for a thesis topic to familiarize themselves with VTT’s job offerings. Especially, if you are looking for meaningful work to tackle global challenges, VTT is the right place. Here you can challenge yourself to think outside the box – beyond the obvious. As a cherry on top of the cake, you will be surrounded by inspiring colleagues and remunerated with a competitive salary.

Looking to join VTT as a trainee or a thesis worker?

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Nina McDougall
Research Trainee

Electric cars and urban cycling have become increasingly popular in recent years. Innovations are emerging at an increasing pace and technology is enabling solutions that are revolutionary.