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What it is like being part of Green Team Twente

Let me start out this article by stating that I am not the first and (hopefully) not the last person that writes an article about joining a student team. In my opinion student teams are a way for students to improve their knowledge and skills far more than their study can ever give. For the ones that don’t know me, I’d like to mention that I joined the Green Team Twente as a part-time Electrical Engineer. Usually someone joins a student team as either as a full-timer or someone that wants to do a minor. I decided to do both alternatingly, since I am also taking part in the 89th board of E.T.S.V. Scintilla. When I am not paying invoices or working on general board tasks, I’ll be working on my projects at Green Team.

Joining a student team can broaden your perspective of what it is like to work with all kinds of different people from different disciplines. You will be part of something bigger than yourself and part of a team that depends on each other in order to succeed. That doesn’t mean that you cannot make mistakes. Quite the contrary, I would advise to anyone working on a project (in a student team or not) to make mistakes. An often misconceived subject within your studies is that you can’t make any mistakes. Mistakes are the fuel for creativity and improving your knowledge. By making mistakes now, you don’t have to make them later, which will make you a much more valuable engineer once you graduate. You get the possibility to work on all kinds of different projects of your liking such that you can invest time on what you want to improve upon. Nevertheless, you still have to be (or become) a team player, as other team members depend on you for reaching their ultimate goal. Our goal as Green Team Twente is to participate in the Shell Eco Marathon where we must race using the least amount of fuel, in our case hydrogen. When I joined Green Team Twente, I wanted to obtain more practical knowledge and work with power electronics. The main task of the electrical team is to make sure we stress the fuel cell the least during the race (more efficient) whilst still being able to provide sufficient power to drive the motors. The more power we ask from the fuel cell, the more inefficient the system becomes. So, in order to accelerate we need a buffer to store the excess energy when we are not accelerating. My main task specifically is to make sure the buffer can be charged any time by regulating the output of the fuel cell by means of a DC-to-DC converter. The more power you ask from the fuel cell, the more its voltage will drop. Working on a project as such will force you to re-use the information that you have learned during your studies. For example, the concept of building a boost converter was something you needed for the project of module 2, whilst creating a solar inverter. The there are some differences though. At Green Team Twente you’ll have much more money and time available. This time you can design a PCB to make the project smaller and more efficient. When designing a critical circuit that has to be very efficient, you will have to take the smallest details into account. But don’t worry, there will always be people willing to help you if you cannot find the answer. Remember that the solution is never set in stone and sometimes the weirdest solutions can be the best solutions.

What we do as a Green Team Twente

As a member of Green Team Twente, you will work on a car that runs on hydrogen. At first glance this might not seem very exciting, considering the goal we pursue. However, the way we distinguish ourselves from the other student teams at the university is not by driving the fastest, but by driving the most fuel efficient. Being efficiency driven makes for new and exciting challenges that force you to think out of the box. The last few years we have been growing though, not only are we looking at how we can drive on the least amount of hydrogen, but we have also been trying to spread the recognition for using hydrogen-based technology as an alternative to fossil fuels. The team usually consists of +/- 20 students working towards this goal. The fun part is that the team consists of a wide range of different disciplines. This means that as a member of the team you will be working with and alongside Electrical Engineers, Mechanical Engineers, Industrial Designers, Chemical Engineers and many others. Together we will be working together to race at the Shell Eco Marathon, which will be held in London at the beginning of July. During this race we will be competing against more than 200 other teams from all over Europe and Africa.

What can you do as an Electrical Engineer?

If you want to improve your practical skills and want to work on a project longer than only a couple of weeks, joining Green Team Twente can be something for you. By joining Green Team Twente, you can get first-hand experience of PCB design and microcontroller programming. You can get the most out of such a gap year by joining full-time since you can really invest time and energy in bigger projects. Obviously, there are also other opportunities by joining part-time and/or do it as a minor assignment (worth 15 EC). Even by joining as a part-timer you can learn valuable skills and be able to do incredible things. Interested? If this article made you intrigued, we are looking for new team members for the challenge of 2020! So, if you want to up your game and want to learn more than from study books, don’t hesitate to contact us. You can ask any question at info@greenteamtwente.nl, ask me or any other team member (you can identify us by our distinct green jackets). You can also visit our workshop at the Future Factory (Auke Vleerstraat 3B), during working hours there is always someone present that will answer your questions.