MIT ESM Challenge: Progress Update II

Eight weeks into the challenge, I have successfully completed courses three and four (Electromagnetic Energy and Electric Power Systems), and am halfway through course five, ‘Principles of Microeconomics’. Check out the dedicated project page for more information, including all assessment pieces completed.

Subjects three and four, EM Energy and Electric Power Systems, reiterated the importance of understanding the link between energy generation and consumption – generators, electricity transmission and transformation, control systems, switches, actuators, solar photovoltaic theory, and much more. These aspects of power networks are often taken for granted, but constitute the backbone of our current and future energy delivery systems, especially in their integration with sustainable energy sources.

I always knew that the schedule I’d set for myself to complete eight subjects in 12 weeks was extremely fast-tracked. What I hadn’t accurately factored in were the additional hours I had to invest in both Electromagnetic Energy and Electric Power Systems. Not only were these subjects quite challenging in the depth and quantity of content (EM energy with 50 x 1-hour lectures alone), they required a complete revision of introductory unversity level physics, chemistry and electrical engineering, along with advanced multivariable vector calculus and complex number and phasor theory, most of which I hadn’t used in great depth for a number of years.

Instead of rushing through the content to remain within my original schedule, I elected to take some additional time with these subjects, to ensure I understood the content. This means that I have made a decision to postpone completion of the final elective subject, Photovoltaic Energy, until a later date. This is largely inconsequential to my original challenge goal, and I don’t sacrifice much knowledge, as I have gained a decent understanding of PV systems and their power network interfaces through the study of the two aforementioned electrical oriented subjects. In addition, PV Energy is an optional elective subject, and within the MIT ESM rules, I will still complete the six subject core of the minor, and one additional elective.

I am also conscious of upholding a study/life balance here in Medellin, which often includes complete days of Spanish conversation, resulting in a non-negligible cognitive toll which needs to be factored into study time. This is too rich an opportunity for me to sacrifice.

As I close out the challenge, I am set to complete Principles of Microeconomics by the end of this week, before moving on to Power Sector Regulation, Engineering and Economics, and Energy Decisions, Markets and Policies, two subjects which I hope will deliver a broad perspective across various technical and non-technical energy factors.