The first educational part of Energy Challenge 2021, the Virtual Academy (VA), is almost completed. The last webinar of the third educational module has just finished, but the participants still have two weeks for finishing their individual final challenge. The project organizers from the Higher Economic School of St. Petersburg State University of Economics (HES UNECON) summarize the preliminary results.
This year the Virtual Academy started on April 26. About 500 applications were submitted to the program “Embracing Uncertainty with 3D: Decarbonization, Decentralization, and Digitalization.” 263 students from 81 universities of 20 countries were enrolled. All of them successfully passed the qualification test and began their studies at the end of April. The Virtual Academy program is divided into three educational modules and is taught entirely in English.
For two months participants worked individually with analytical and study materials covering the topic of each module, communicated with experts in online webinars, and finished written assignments (challenges). Each participant has individual access to the UNECON educational platform with additional analytical and informational materials, webinar videos, assignments, etc.
Live webinars are a distinctive feature of the Virtual Academy. These sessions are organized by partner organizations with highly qualified professionals as speakers. The firsts part of an online meeting is usually devoted to a presentation on a topic in which they have extensive practical experience, but the following discussion and Q&A sessions at the second part are equally valuable for both parties.
This year, 16 webinars were held with the support of such partner organizations as Gazprom, Wintershall Dea, Uniper, Energy Delta Institute, ESMT Berlin, and OMV. Such topical issues as global climate disruption, energy transformation and decarbonized energy systems, innovations, new business models, market and technological trends were covered and discussed in the program. The webinars on hydrogen, CCUS technology, blockchain, and artificial intelligence in the energy sector were of particular interest for the participants.
The participants were very active and well prepared. Many interesting and sometimes unexpected questions were asked during these live sessions. Each meeting lasted from one to three hours. After the webinars, highly engaging discussions continued in the participants’ telegram chat, where they shared their opinions, additional materials, and sources. Experts praised the students’ engagement and active feedback. Some webinars were also attended by experts from other companies.
At the end of each module, students completed written assignments (challenges) in the form of essays. At this moment, the participants are in the middle of our last and most time-consuming assignment. The results will help the organizers to determine top-50 students, who will continue their educational journey and move from individual to teamwork on case studies. The best students will participate in the final events of the Energy Challenge – Youth Day 2021.