Lorenzo Galieti

PhD candidate in Aerospace Engineering, TU Delft and Politecnico di Milano (2021–present)

IDEA League ITN EASYGO Fellowship

“It is very interesting and stimulating to be in such a diverse environment.

I’m a PhD researcher in the Propulsion and Power Department at TU Delft’s Faculty of Aerospace. Our research field relates to Organic Rankine Cycles, which are basically steam engines that generate steam using a fluid other than water. The cycles are specifically useful in geothermal energy and waste heat recovery. I am two and a half years through my PhD. Prior to this, I did a master’s degree at ETH Zurich, so there is no doubt I am a genuine IDEA League alumnus.

I think what sets the IDEA League EASYGO fellowship programme apart from other PhD fellowships are the activities organised with the consortium of different universities and groups. There are training weeks, conferences, and the secondments that each PhD student does for an extended period. In principle, we work in different fields, so working together puts you in contact with all the other groups.
It provides a great opportunity to do a lot of networking and meet with peers, academics, and industry professionals.

Networking certainly helps your career, but it also affords the chance to get acquainted with things that you don’t normally work on. Doing a PhD tends to keep you in your own little world. So, in that regard, meeting people from other groups and learning about their subjects helps you gain a more holistic perspective.

The time we spend on projects together allows for a lot of direct, personal contact. There are also quite a few companies that participate in the projects, some of which actively collaborate with us.  Many of us have also ended up working with different PhD students who we met during the training week. Exchanging ideas is a very nice experience. Aside from the fact that these contacts might lead to a job in the future, it’s valuable to work with industrial partners and learn about ‘real world’ problems that academics might not think about in an applied field like engineering.

I would say that this is not your usual PhD experience, which has the risk of becoming a tunnel vision project where you’re given your task and then you become secluded in your office or lab for four years. EASYGO also offers the opportunity to visit lots of places thanks to secondments to different countries. I spent a year at Politecnico di Milano, and this will eventually lead to a joint PhD from both TU Delft and Polimi. And I spent a few months in the Milan area at a company called LU-VE Group as well, which manufactures components for power plants, and it was a very good experience. I was shown around by the people working in the factory to see how they produce things, and that really exposes you to what’s happening in the real world. My time there resulted in a conference paper.

The EASYGO programme helps prepare PhD students to develop knowledge in their specific field and also understand other related fields. For instance, I am an ‘expert’ in geothermal power plants, but I at least vaguely know something about seismics, drilling, geochemistry, and other areas related to geothermal energy thanks to EASYGO. It is very interesting and stimulating to be in such a diverse environment.