Industrial Secondments in COVID-19 time

Nowadays, the link between the industry and academia represents an unbreakable bond, especially in the field of smart grids and renewable energy due to the daily challenges the engineers encounter in this field. Within the SCENT project, the Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) investigate the smart grid issues encountered in industry. Therefore, the secondments and training provided by the industrial partners are strong tools that provide the ESRs a link between the industry and academia. However, sometimes this link could be affected by unexpected situations such as the COVID 19 pandemic.

As ESR1 , I was nominated to perform measurements in December 2019 for Eko Energetika – a company, which was one of the industrial partners in the SCENT project. The tests were performed on two electrical vehicle AC/DC battery chargers, and included the required Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) tests. Some of the tests were conducted at the university lab and the other ones were conducted in the company. I was so happy to enjoy the tests in the field and see how the company handles the connections of the battery charger units, even though it was not easy to access all the information as some of it was confidential.

 The tests ended in January 2020, and the only remaining step was to finalize the test reports for the company. Unfortunately, I found that my VISA would end in February 2020, and my temporary residence card application was suspended due to some missing papers. I was therefore obligated to return to my home country to renew my VISA application. During my stay in my country, the world stopped spinning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. My flight was canceled so I tried to reserve new tickets, but also with no success. At the same time, the company requested my supervisor to submit the needed reports of the performed tests. I was direly disappointed with my situation but I tried to provide the necessary results and figures for the report. Another struggle I faced, was that the company requested the report to be written in Polish as it was a Polish company. So I analyzed the measurement results that I had and I drew the needed figures and tables while being away. It was the first time for me to work for a company from home as a ‘’remote secondment’’. After this, I sent my supervisor all the materials and he finished writing the report in Polish.

In May 2019, I returned to my university to continue my work after three months of disability to reserve four flight tickets. I then realized that “teleworking” could in fact be useful in some situations. For instance, I was able to finish three online mandatory courses from my university, which is 643 km away from my home. Moreover, teleworking saves the time and money lost in transportation every day. Of course, teleworking is not applicable for all jobs, nevertheless, it still a good solution to ensure the continuity of the work.

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