It was a perfect day: bright, sunny, and pleasantly warm.
For most of the University, it’s still summer vacation: the fall semester doesn’t begin till mid-August. The campus is mostly deserted, except for the three-dozen-plus of us who’ve gathered for the three-week summer course — the “introduction to the introduction” that marks the start of the graduate program in sustainable energy.
There are 37 students in the summer course. Some are from Iceland, but most are from other places, pretty much spanning the globe. About half of us are here for the full year and a half of the master’s program; the rest may decide to apply for the full program later, or elect to pursue other paths.
We started with a welcome from University president, Ari Kristinn Jonsson, who described the history of the school (see this prior post) and the master’s program. We next took a tour of the campus, exploring the mechanical spaces, some of the labs and machine shops, and the classrooms and study spaces.
The building measures variables such as ambient light, temperature, and CO2 concentrations, and automatically adjusts lighting (each lighting element is individually programmable and has its own IP address), heat, air flow, and so on. It’s all remarkably high-tech, designed from the ground up … well, actually, from underground up … to be an energy efficient workspace as well as a comfortable one.
The school is built to be modifiable and expandable. Presently there are three wedge-shaped modules radiating out from a central rotunda, dubbed Sol. Classrooms are mostly found in the Venus and Mars wedges.
The library is in the third wedge; and while it would be childish to say to someone “you pulled that research out of Uranus,” it probably would not be incorrect.
After the tour we got a quick lecture covering the highlights of Icelandic history (a lot of which seemed to involve placating Norway), presentations on student programs and services, and a course overview from Professor Ágúst Valfells.
By the afternoon, the temperature had unfortunately dropped considerably. Some brave students nonetheless took the challenge issued by the University staff and jumped in the frigid ocean waters. Others relaxed on shore and had a few extra beers. I leave it to each of you to discern which group I partishipated in.