“The strong work ethic has made my experience with the Swedish people a memorable one”

Published 4 July 2018 in:

Global Swede David

Get to know the Global Swedes: David D’Souza, India, Dalarna University

Why did you move to Sweden?
I moved to Sweden to pursue my passion for solar energy. The solar energy programme at Dalarna University (which is home to the European Solar Engineering School) is one of the only programmes in the world that combines the study of photovoltaics and solar thermal energy.

What do you have to say about your experiences in Sweden?
My experiences in Sweden were very enriching. To this day, I never cease to be amazed by the resilience and fortitude of the Swedish people when it comes to the forces of nature. To endure the harsh winters, with barely a few hours of daylight a day, and still keep one’s spirits up is nothing short of amazing. The culture of the people with their quiet but iron-clad patriotism and pride in being Swedish, the ever respectful nature and attention to protocol and, last but not least, the strong work ethic have made my experience with the Swedish people a memorable one.

Sweden is a quite beautiful place and, living in Dalarna County, it was a treat to trek into the endless forests (word to the wise: charge your phone first!) and camp out at gorgeous lakes with friends. And the Northern Lights! It has to be one of the most thrilling and breath-taking spectacles on Earth and I am so thankful and glad to have been able to witness it.

What are you studying?
I am currently doing my Masters in Solar Energy Engineering at Dalarna University. It is a subject that is close to my heart and, looking back, I am glad I chose this programme at Dalarna University. We study the use of solar energy, both photovoltaic and solar thermal, and its applications in wider energy systems. It covers a broad scope of study as almost everything under the sun, pardon the pun, needs energy to function; and how best to meet this need using solar energy is what we investigate. Currently, for my Masters thesis, I am working on the use of solar thermal energy to power water distillation/purification systems. My educational experience in Sweden has been extremely good.

Why do you think you were nominated for the Global Swede award?
I am so grateful to have been nominated. It really was quite an honour. First and foremost, I believe it was my academic performance at Dalarna University which held me in good stead. I was lucky enough to have participated in several technical projects that were important to the community and industry – the most notable of these being a European project relating to the best use of solar photovoltaic energy and space, and water heating systems at a housing complex in Ludvika. I was the manager of this student project and am proud of the work that my team put into finding the best solutions for the companies involved. Among my extracurricular activities, I would play in a cricket club that comprised mainly asylum seekers and I’d like to think that I played a part, however small, in helping them acclimatise in a foreign land.

What differences and similarities between Sweden and India do you see?
The first and most obvious difference between Sweden and India is the population. The population in the Indian city of Mumbai exceeds that of the whole country of Sweden! Besides this, the sheer diversity of the people within India is quite astonishing and unique. India is one of the most linguistically diverse countries and we most definitely do not all speak one single language as is the case in Sweden. As far as cuisine goes, I think it’s fair to say that the Indian cuisine is a tad spicier than the Swedish one!

But we are not so different. Indians, like the Swedes, are a proud and patriotic people. Both countries have a rich and treasured history and culture. Last but not least, both India and Sweden are thriving democracies and it was very interesting for me personally to see the similarities and differences between the two.

Have you been involved in any projects?
Thanks to the brilliant Masters programme at Dalarna University, I am grateful to say that I have been involved in several projects. The very first of these was the analysis of the heating system in place at Dalarna University, followed by suggesting, evaluating and comparing changes to improve its performance vis-à-vis its usage of the solar thermal collectors at the University over the district heating. One of the more gratifying projects that I took part in was undoubtedly the one in which we helped a Swedish family with their house’s faulty solar thermal collector system. The most high-profile of my projects must be the European project, of which I was the project manager, where we designed, optimised and analysed both photovoltaic and exhaust air heat pump systems for a housing complex in Ludvika. This project was done together with several industrial partners.

What will you do next?
My plans for the future? Quite honestly, I’m not entirely sure. I would like to continue my research into the use of solar thermal energy in water purification but I haven’t figured out yet in what capacity I will be doing this. As a PhD student, a junior researcher, industrial professional…the first step into one’s career is never that easy I guess! What I do know for a fact is that I will continue to be a part of the solar energy revolution and use my knowledge and networks, including the brilliant individuals who comprise the Global Swede network, to accelerate the deployment of solar energy technologies and, in whatever capacity, play my part in making our world a more sustainable and better place to live in.