Vasileia-Kyriakoula Vasilaki

Graduating from my bachelor in civil engineering at National Technical university of Athens I wanted to gain profound insight, mostly from a practical aspect in the field of Water Engineering. The need of maintaining our resources in a way that will guarantee the sustainability of the ecosystems, while ensuring economic security, seemed an actual challenge to me since the uncertainties included were not little and required interdisciplinary knowledge, something that really intrigued me.

Brunel University being a highly acknowledged Technical University in Europe and worldwide and offering state-of-the-art research capabilities and excellent employment prospects was my first choice.

The M.Sc. program in Water Engineering I attended, equipped me with the skills of an integrated, well-rounded Civil Engineer, specialized in the water sector and capable of solving problems and proposing innovative ideas. One of the things that appealed to me the most about the M.Sc. in Water Engineering in Brunel University, is the investigative nature of the research intensive courses. Since most academics are involved in up-to-date research, in close collaboration with the industry I was challenged to develop professional skills, knowledge and networks directly linked with the industry and the surrounding society. Our courses covered a wide spectrum of extended but not limited to innovative environmental technologies that are the key to sustainable water management, state-of the art waste and wastewater schemes with resource and energy recovery and the Life cycle assessment of such schemes. Rising to the challenges of a rigorous academic curriculum, familiarized me with the broad spectrum of applications inherent in the job of a Civil/Water Engineer and equipped me in practice, with essential advanced engineering tools, and analytical and programming skills.

The aim of my dissertation was to develop, test and validate an innovative software tool for the quantification, control and mitigation of the Water Footprint and Carbon Footprint that is generated from various stages of processing in the food and beverage sector (F&B) focusing on the dairy industries and specifically on yoghurt manufacturing. Consequently, it allows the Dairy companies to identify water-related environmental impacts and Green House Gas Emissions of the whole plant, of selected or groups of products and even of specific processing stages and examine the most appropriate alternatives to minimise the WF and CF of the final product. My thesis was awarded with Dean’s Prize for Innovation and Impact in Master’s Dissertations in the Department of Mechanical, Civil and Aerospace.

This year also in parallel to my studies I had the opportunity to participate in the Women in Engineering programme Brunel was providing, where I was awarded with a scholarship. The programme offered advantageous networking and STEM activities as well as workshops for our professional development and more importantly an industrial mentor who offered me invaluable insight from the industry, guided my steps through the whole year and actually acted as bacon for my smooth transition, from the academic to the professional environment.

When I was given the opportunity to continue my journey with Brunel University and pursue a PhD, I did not hesitate at all. This year I look forward to starting my PhD in the HORIZON 2020 project entitled ‘Scale-up of low-carbon footprint Material Recovery Techniques for upgrading existing wastewater treatment Plants- SMART-Plant’.

Page last updated: Tuesday 24 May 2016