student
felipe oliveira

Better the world, one step at a time

To create an impact is the noble drive of nearly-graduating student Felipe Oliveira. “There are a lot of problems in Brazil and all over the world, and I want to contribute to solutions – to do my part. I don’t know how yet, but that won’t stop me from trying. I try to learn as much as possible and take every chance I encounter.

Discovering a passion

Looking to learn, the Brazilian environmental engineer had decided for himself to continue his studies in Europe and look for a field to specialize in. “I wanted to go to England, as I had already spent a year there but couldn’t find a place to do my internship.” So, as a second choice, Felipe ended up across the Channel, in Fryslân.

And he was certainly not let down. “It did not take long for me to feel the great ambiance that circulates in Wetsus, and a passion grew inside me as I stayed. I knew I wanted to specialize in water technology. It combines so many fields, and with it, it opens so many doors. From membrane engineering to biology. It reflects in the Wetsus Academy – with courses like microbiology and physical transport phenomena.”

Yet, Felipe is always driven to the parts he is most unfamiliar with. His thesis concerned the chemistry of two-phase aqueous systems to design a better separation manner for biological compounds. And now, he is learning to combine all aspects for his internship.

Plant power

Currently, Felipe has his hands full – juggling three projects requiring different skills for his internship. But that is great fun, he says. “I really get to use so much of the knowledge I learned during the courses. I deal with source separation, CO2 capture, and ecosystems all in one system: plants.” In the natural sense.

For his primary project, Felipe is leading the research on applying plants in vertical garden modules to filter water, catch carbon and act as biological climate control. “There is a lot to figure out. We work at the request of a start-up that would like to know the best and most efficient way to apply plants for such purposes. In just one year, an extensive experimental setup should be thought out, made, and tested on a multitude of parameters.”

But thanks to a modular setup, the water technologist has already ensured a working plan. “Firstly, we’ll be testing various soils, continuing to plants and effluents. We still miss many parameters, but we can still do a lot in practice. Critical thinking was vital, and learning from the business case course sure helped.”

It takes a lot to learn a lot. So advice for the over-enthusiastic learners – Felipe: “Stay relaxed, stay in the moment and see what the future brings.” After all, bettering the world can only go one step at a time.

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