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Building Training Programmes for Young Professionals in the Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Field

Final Report Summary - TRAINHY-PROF (Building Training Programmes for Young Professionals in the Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Field)

Executive Summary:

Project Overview:

Fuel Cells and Hydrogen are set to become one of the pillars of future sustainable development and innovation in Europe. The possible market impact is huge and the technology disruptive (*) in many aspects. Therefore a large number of trained professionals will be required in the coming decades that do not necessarily fit into the traditional categories of learning and teaching. Likewise, the content of the educational curriculum and syllabus need to be developed.

The TrainHy project addressed this challenge by developing a curriculum and teaching structures that offer post-graduates (post-Bachelor degree students and young professionals) a comprehensive and high-quality educational opportunity in Fuel Cell and Hydrogen technologies (FCH). This group is an important ‘customer’ of training and education and essential in building the future human resources for FCH industry in Europe. On one side the project developed a comprehensive Curriculum of content that could be taught in the FCH area. On the other hand the project organized and developed the Joint European Summer School concept and performed two of these events.

The Summer Schools and e-learning concept developed in HySafe offer the opportunity to improve and complete the skills most relevant to their current occupation without interrupting their professional life – therefore making the curriculum and education & training structure developed within TrainHy valuable for businesses and academic institutions alike. The course content and the choice of course elements by the student interacted with the necessities of her or his main profession.

The course programme developed by TrainHy offers ECTS points to those who desire to obtain them, especially university students. ‘Continuous Programme of Development’ (CPD) credit points would also be offered.

The project main targets were:

• designing a curriculum and organisational structure to supply high-level professional training to the above mentioned group of students in the areas of Fuel Cell and Hydrogen technologies,
• building a financing scheme and business model oriented at a long-term sustainable performance of such a curriculum,
• initiating such a structure and performing first test elements of these courses,
• evaluating the suitability and success of the initiated activities, suggesting further action and presenting an action plan with organisational and financial information.

The approach of the project was to develop a curriculum for the field of Fuel Cell and Hydrogen technologies aimed at post-graduate students and young professionals. Elements of this curriculum, namely summer school events, were held in 2011 and 2012. They were used to verify and evaluate the applicability of the curriculum concepts and develop a course and e-learning structure within which the educational programme can be organised. Universities will be invited to adopt the curriculum and the courses offered within their training programme, including grant of ECTS points. The developed programme and organisational structures are intended to be further sustained after termination of the project.

(*) Disruptive indicating a technology that has the aspect of requiring a new infrastructure (e.g. mobile phones), introduces new possibilities of use (e.g. smartphones), or is driven by new industrial players in manufacturing or services (e.g. natural gas driven vehicles). In all cases, incumbent technology and market players will be replaced instead of gradually evolving.

Project Context and Objectives:

Project Concept and Goals

The project specifically addresses the training of post-graduates (after having accomplished at least BSc, BEng or equivalent grades) and trained professionals in Europe in the field of Fuel Cell and Hydrogen (FCH) technologies. In the past few years, as FCH businesses have emerged, the recruitment of new staff with expert knowledge in FCH has created an urgent need for such training. A number of summer schools and other training measures have already been established (see below), but they lack coordination and – as isolated measures – lack synergy on a European and worldwide scale. In addition, with the termination of the large 6th Framework Programme projects, within which many Summer Schools were embedded, financial support and the immersion in the larger context of European policies is waning. Therefore these important networks and learning activities for young scientists and new employees in the growing field of FCH have been deprived from a long-term perspective.

Examples of the actions mentioned above include the SOFC summer schools organised as part of the EU projects Real-SOFC and LargeSOFC organised from 2004 to 2009, the schools on fuel cells and hydrogen organised by the HyFC Academy ( since 2006, and the European Summer School on Hydrogen Safety organised by the University of Ulster from 2006 to 2009, which all have been extremely well frequented, not only by PhD students and scientists, but notably by employees from industry and other businesses. The growing Scandinavian fuel cell businesses, for instance, regularly sent a high number of participants to attend the SOFC courses.

These schools play an extremely important role in the solid development of European FCH businesses and the establishment of Europe’s position at the cutting edge of worldwide developments. This is reflected in the high industrial interest in the existing activities. The necessity for external training, in addition to what is delivered today in university and vocational training is obvious.

The TrainHy project attempts to stabilise the situation by proposing a coherent educational scheme for post-graduates and young professionals with financial backing from public and private sources. This scheme is aimed at a well-established and firmly run activity that will provide adequate training in the short and mid-term.

The project a structured training course (‘curriculum’) aimed at post graduate students (with at least a Bachelor degree), PhD students and staff just having entered the field of FCH, be it as university graduates or by moving from other areas of technology. These three groups are hereafter referred to as ‘Young Professionals’. The level of education of the three groups is similar – which makes the construction of a suitable curriculum more focussed – whilst the industrial interest in educating and training this group is extremely high since this group basically comprises the main candidates for recruitment (at today’s state of development).

The structure of the course is such that in-depth training can be achieved by following the complete course or several elements thereof, for instance by combining those single elements that best fit the personal profile and professional needs. Certain elements, on the other hand, will also be available to participants only wishing to follow short courses within a limited time span. The decision on the course components to be followed by single participants is up to the participant and (if applicable) his/her employer.

Cooperation with other FCH JU projects and EU initiatives

The project worked together with the project Hyprofessional that addresses the issue of training for technicians. Together, both projects cover all aspects of vocational training necessary for specialised industry in the fields of technicians, engineers and scientists.

Project Objectives

As a summary, the project aimed at:

1. deriving specifications for an overall fuel cell and hydrogen education and training curriculum for Young Professionals from the review of existing training programmes specific to FCH in Europe (scope, effectiveness, structure and cost),
2. designing a curriculum and organisational structure to supply high-level professional training to graduate and PhD students as well as young professional in the areas of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies,
3. building a financing scheme and business model oriented at a long-term sustainable performance of such a curriculum,
4. initiating the structure and performing first test elements of these courses,
5. evaluating the suitability and success of activities and suggesting further action and present action plan with organisational and financial information.

The objective was to offer Young Professionals the opportunity to improve and complete the skills most relevant to their current occupation without interrupting their professional life – therefore making the curriculum and education & training structure especially valuable for businesses and academic institutions alike since it does not remove the trainees from their ongoing assignments. What is more, the course content and the choice of course elements by the student can interact with the necessities of his or her main profession.

While the course programme (at least as one element) offered ECTS points, the question of whether a degree can be obtained through the course system was answered negatively in that neither educational institutions nor industry seemed to be keen on very targeted and focused training. In all discussions, a more open and basic training approach was favoured. On this basis industry would then build its own internal qualification schemes.

Project Results:

Project Results

The project developed several reports that are available as deliverables.

These comprise

- a catalogue of post-graduate training activities at university level across Europe
- a concept for organizing and financing Summer Schools
- the European Curriculum for training in Fuel Cell and Hydrogen technologies

As a means of verification of the results, two Summer Schools (Joint European Summer Schools on Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Technology, JESS) were performed. These were used as test benches for implementation of the evolving JESS concept (see below).

The ‘Atlas of European Training Measures for Young Professionals’ served as a review of current activities, but also looked at structures in other emerging technology areas with a similar high demand for trained workers in novel technology fields. This included wind energy and nanotechnologies. From the research, though, it could be concluded that although a number of initiatives are around already, including some Summer Schools, the overall picture is fragmented and a lack of stringency and coordination can be found. Further deliverables from these activities included the specifications for training derived from questionnaire research and discussions with the Advisory Board.

The concept for organization and finance includes an overview of the average cost and effort of performing a Summer School.

The ‘curriculum’ is a compilation of all teaching content that can be used as a blue print for specific courses. Taking the complete list of content, a specific course could be drafted by distilling the content relevant for the specific audience. At a later stage, the actual content (in the sense of text books, lecture slides etc.) would have to be developed with other means.

Joint European Summer Schools

Following the successful pattern of summer schools carried out by the HySafe Consortium, the EU Integrated Projects Real-SOFC and LargeSOFC and the European Summer School on Hydrogen Safety, the TrainHy-Project, supported by the Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU), continues this educational work. The University of Ulster (United Kingdom), Technical University of Denmark (Denmark), the University of Birmingham (United Kingdom) and the Forschungszentrum Jülich (Germany) teamed up with Heliocentris Energy Solutions (Germany) to form the TrainHy Consortium.

The 1st Joint European School on Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Technology introduced the novel concept of offering a total of four courses in one location and lasting a total of two weeks. Students were able to extend the knowledge gained in the first week by continuing into the second week or, alternatively, only book the course of most relevance.

It took place in Viterbo, Italy, from 22.08.-02.09.2011. The School offered four specialised courses, based on the experience of the previous SOFC Summer Schools started under the auspices of the FP6 Integrated Project Real-SOFC and continued within the framework of the Large-SOFC project:

- A Primer on Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Technologies (22.08.-26.08.2011)
- Introduction to Solid Oxide Fuel Cell Technology (22.08.-26.08.2011)
- Introduction to Low Temperature Fuel Cell Technology (29.08.-02.09.2011)
- Solid Oxide Fuel Cell Design and Modelling (29.08.-02.09.2011)

As was expected, the SOFC course – building on 7 years of previous organization – was the most successful whereas the other courses had reasonable but lower attendance.

The slides of the presentations were compiled and printed in four ‘Student Books’ (Fig. 1) distributed to the students. This required a lot of timely planning which conflicted with the timing of the presenters in preparing their material – which, as everyone knows, involves ‘last changes’ being performed on the airplane to the meeting.

Based on the feedback from and experience with this JESS, the project further developed the concept of ‘modules’ as a means of offering the students a more individual and tailored choice of teaching they subscribe to. Therefore the structure of week-long ‘courses’ was split into ‘modules’ of 8 lectures lasting essentially 4 mornings or afternoons. Students could now combine different modules according to their main interests (Fig. 2).

The 2nd JESS took place in Iraklion, Greece, from 17-28.9.2012. Using the experience gained from the first school, the second one offered nine specialised courses (termed: modules):

• Solid Oxide Fuel Cells, 17 - 21 September 2012
• The Safety of Hydrogen Technologies, 17 - 21 September 2012
• Proton Exchange and Alkaline Fuel Cells, 17 - 21 September 2012
• Electrochemistry for Fuel Cells and Electrolysers, 17 - 21 September 2012
• Fuel Cell Modelling, 17 - 21 September 2012
• Hydrogen Technology, 24 - 28 September 2012
• Electrolysis, 24 - 28 September 2012
• Solid Oxide Fuel Cell Systems & Balance Of Plant Components, 24 - 28 September 2012
• System Modelling, 24 - 28 September 2012

Figure 2 shows the possibilities of combination of the different modules.

Due to the difficulties encountered with printing the brochures for earlier Schools, it was decided to ‘merely’ distribute the presentations on a memory stick. Since the presenters had not all submitted their material before the event, the stick was compiled and distributed towards the end of the School. Since students had not experienced the previous approach, no feedback was received on the pro’s and con’s of the two approaches. Nevertheless, it was felt, that having documentation to take notes in will always be an advantage towards purely electronic textbooks, although the printing is a major cost and work effort factor.

Two statistics are interesting in the evaluation of the Summer Schools: the countries of origin and the gender. The former shows the interest of young persons in the different EU countries and also indicates the level of industrial investment (examples: Denmark and Finland). The latter is an indication of how equal opportunities policies have resulted in more female researchers getting involved in FCH technologies.

Fig. 3 shows the countries of origin of the participants. It has to be kept in mind, that the last five years have seen a major change in mobility patterns. Much more so than before around the year 2000, the nationality of participants says little about the country their institution is located in.

Fig. 4 shows the split between male and female students. On average, European technical professions have a female worker quota of around 8%. The constant 23% achieved in the JESS is a considerable progress to this and shows that topics that have an air of ‘sustainability’ are attractive for both sexes, even though FCH is a very much engineering oriented field. It may be noted, that especially low temperature fuel cells and hydrogen technology had a higher percentage of female students, whereas SOFC and modeling had less.

Potential Impact:

(1) Project impact

The project directly addressed the problem of building suitable human resources for the unrestricted development of European fuel cell and hydrogen businesses. It contributed to improving the competitiveness of the European economic area.

It developed a concept for an educational system across a number of educational levels, specifically

- alumni of vocational training courses
- graduate students
- post docs
- doctoral students
- (young) professionals

all of which have in common that they have

- a thorough, if general, education in technology and science
- first exposure to FCH technology

Selected course elements were established and assessed towards their potential to increase hiring rates of course participants.

Future steps include the adaptation of the educational programme concept or the establishment of the concept as a whole within the European educational system or at least within the area of industrial vocational training.

(2) Exploiting results and disseminating knowledge

By definition the project was oriented at public activities that are targeted at improving the level of education in Fuel Cell and Hydrogen technology throughout Europe. In this way it created excellence and shared the excellence of the consortium partners with the wider public.

The results of the project will be exploited in future educational activities. Further financing of the developed scheme will be a topic covered in WP 2 and subject to the availability of suitable funding from the European education system or alternatively from industry sources, the partners could also chose to perform part or the whole of the developed concept on an independent, sustainable basis.

Dissemination of the results occurred between the project group and its advisory groupings (education and industry), as well as to the FCH JU structure and Commission, and to the general scientific public at conferences.

The main disseminated result, though, will remain the series of Joint European Summer Schools (JESS).

Due to the semi-public and public nature of the work results (including the publicly and competitively performed course elements), IPR protection was not an issue in this project. Nevertheless, the project results not directly emanating as reports will be free for the partners producing them for use in their research and business activities.

(3) Involvement in SET-Plan educational working group

The results from TRAINHY have been used in developing the final document of the SET-Plan group on education in fuel cell and hydrogen technology (‘Assessment Report SET-Plan on Education and Training - Working Group: Fuel Cells and Hydrogen’ issued in Nov. 2012).

(4) Presentation at Conferences

Lucerne EFCF conference 2013: oral presentation on ‘European Curriculum in Fuel Cells and Hydrogen’ (Fri 5th July 2013)

(5) Further Dissemination

Talks at IPHE meetings are planned as well as further presentations at strategic international and EU meetings.

List of Websites:

Contact information

Project website address:

Co-ordinator: University of Birmingham
Prof. Robert Steinberger-Wilckens, School of Chemical Engineering
Tel. +44(121) 415 8169
Fax +44(121) 414 5324

Forschungszentrum Juelich
Mrs.Chantal Hake
Tel. +49 (2461) 61 2244

Prof. Soeren Linderoth
Tel. +45 4677 5801

University of Ulster
Dr. Arief Dahoe
Tel. +44 (28) 9036 8763

Mrs. Svea Reiners
Tel. +49 (30) 6392 6172