Erusa Adizie (MEng Electrical & Electronic Engineering with Management 2008) currently works as an innovation engineer for a renewable energy company, striving to improve the UK’s energy landscape in pursuit of a more sustainable future.
As well as being dedicated to her work, Erusa is also passionate about advancing diversity across the energy sector and runs Power To Diversity, a network designed to connect Minority Ethnic engineers, scientists and technicians working in the renewable energy and low carbon fields.
What did you learn during your time at Imperial, in class or out?
I think the main thing I learnt was independence. Entering Imperial College was the first time that I ever had to look after myself. I had to balance living and studying in an optimal way.
Can you tell us about your studies at Imperial?
My course was tough and rigorous, but I was so happy that I got through it! The modules available were wide ranging with a good mix of practical and theoretical aspects, with really knowledgeable tutors.
Outside of class, I was involved in African Caribbean Society.
Who did you find inspiring at Imperial and why?
I found inspiration from the many students on my course and those that I got to know on others. I had never been in such an international and diverse environment before, it meant that I was learning a lot from everyone around me.
Being in that environment and in that Central London location, everything felt urgent and alive, and that gave me the spark to work hard and achieve my best.
What is your fondest memory of your time here?
I would have to say that one of my fondest memories would be working on my third-year group project. Of course, the night before submission – so focused on completion, we all found ourselves squeezed into my Linstead Hall room in a race to the finish. It was stressful but exhilarating!
What is your favourite place at Imperial and why?
I think because I spent so much time there, I would have to say that Electrical and Electronic Engineering (EEE) building library was a favourite place of mine. Not a fun answer but I appreciated the atmosphere of the library which really allowed me to concentrate for exams when needed.
Tell us a bit about the work you’re doing now.
I work as an Innovation Engineer for a renewable energy company. My job involves working on projects that have the potential to reduce the emissions produced at power stations and improve the energy landscape of the UK. I research technology and systems which could help the UK get to its Net Zero by 2050 target, and reduce the carbon produced from power generation activities.
As part of my role, I must consider the commercial and regulatory factors that would impact the deployment of these technologies at a national and international level.
How has what you learnt at Imperial helped you in your career so far?
Imperial taught me to stay open and take the opportunities available to me, with regards to both further study and roles. It is useful to keep developing and increasing your knowledge.
During my studies I was required to work on a lot of projects. I realised that as an engineer, you should definitely be able to work as part of a team. So much about engineering involves working on projects with people that have their own areas of speciality, who all come together to hopefully make a project a success. Consequently, it’s important to have good communication skills and to be able to think logically and creatively when coming up with solutions.
Additionally, I discovered how important it is to have diversity in engineering – projects require a range of solutions and viewpoints.
What have been your career highlights and lowlights?
A highlight would be a £1 billion interconnector project that I worked on. We had a lot of issues with our contractor and a few unforeseen issues onsite, but we managed to complete the project and connect on time!
A lowlight would be that I faced redundancy in my first role due to a downturn in the industry. I actually think now that it was one of the best things that could have happened to my career because I then moved from working in oil and gas to working on low carbon energy projects.
What inspired you to drive forward work in sustainability?
After studying electrical and electronic engineering at Imperial, I’ve predominately worked in the energy sector. I think that I have found my passion in this sector, and in discovering how I can use my engineering skills and knowledge to make a real difference in such a pressing and urgent field.
What are some of the biggest misconceptions about climate change and global warming?
I think that the messaging around energy transition can sometimes be oversimplified. We ought to remember that the journeys of transition are going to be unique to every country – there will be no one size fits all.
There are developments happening in many areas. In the future there will need to be complex, interconnected energy grids developed. It may seem as if there is currently a lack of movement but there are some amazing engineering projects happening now that will be critical in the future.
What recent developments or innovations in your sector give you hope for the future of climate action?
Installing a greater capacity of renewable energy sources is important for reducing emissions globally, however it is coming to light that we also need to implement technologies that will remove carbon from the atmosphere. Carbon Capture and Storage is one of these innovative technologies that can play an important role in tackling global warming and help get the UK to Net Zero by 2050.
Carbon Capture and Storage involves the capture of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from industrial processes. The carbon is then transported from where it was produced, via ship or pipeline, and stored deep underground. There are also many pilots looking at how we could use this captured carbon.
The potential future uses of hydrogen in decarbonisation of various industries is exciting and if we can make green hydrogen viable, the applications are numerous.
What does a typical day look like for you now?
My typical day involves an early morning team meeting where we will check in and update each other on project developments. I have several projects that I am working on so I may have a few meetings throughout the day with both internal and external groups (such as governmental organisations), where we further progress on these projects and discuss some of the details.
A large part of my day involves researching new technologies, reading research papers and also talking to manufacturers about their innovative systems to determine if they would be suitable for commercial use. Through my work I further my company’s ultimate mission of being carbon negative.
What are your plans for the future?
I want to continue working on renewable energy projects with the goal of implementing a viable technical and commercial system. I think that I have a good view of the UK’s energy landscape, which I believe will come in handy.
In addition, I’m very involved with increasing awareness about the need for diversity in the green energy field.
What would be your advice for current students?
The road ahead can seem like a daunting task with regards to energy and climate change, but there is a role for us all to play.
I would also recommend being open to the possibilities available for you out there and taking the reins in your career. I would definitely advise doing work experience in an area that interests you.
What makes you proud to be an Imperial alumnus?
I am quite proud to say that I attended Imperial - everyone is aware of the College’s amazing reputation.
What one word or phrase would you use to describe Imperial alumni?
I would say Imperial alumni are innovative.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I really enjoy working in energy and I feel that we need as much diversity in the sector as possible so that we may make decisions that benefit anyone. To do this I believe that we need to learn from each other by sharing experiences and advice.