Norwegian students study energy, sustainability at UWinnipeg

Norwegian exchange students with Dr. Patricia Fitzpatrick (centre). ©UWinnipeg

The University of Winnipeg hosted its first cohort of Norwegian exchange students this week as part of its ongoing Norway-Canada Sustainable Energy Project. The group of five graduate and undergraduate students from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) have spent the week learning about sustainability initiatives and energy research happening at UWinnipeg, and elsewhere in the province.

Since landing in Winnipeg on Saturday, September 16, the students — many of whom haven’t been to Canada before — have visited the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, traveled to FortWhyte Alive, road-tripped to the Whiteshell, and toured UWinnipeg’s physical plant.

“The Norwegian faculty and the students are very interested in The University of Winnipeg’s approach to sustainability on campus, and the team here at the University is doing a great job in trying to create energy independence,” said Dr. Patricia Fitzpatrick (geography). “We had a great tour of what we’ve been up to and what is planned for the future. That was a definite highlight.”

Fitzpatrick is a faculty member of the Norway-Canada project and supervisor of this week’s exchange. She says the program — which focuses on encouraging exchanges, sharing curricula, and building common research projects — gives students the chance to compare energy and sustainability issues in Norway with those present in Manitoba.

While they’re at UWinnipeg, each of the students are collecting data for a research project based on the trip. Topics range from studying the Keeyask hydroelectric project for insight into sustainable development, to researching the economic viability of installing solar panels at UWinnipeg.

Yael Mendez Blancas is a Sustainable Manufacturing master’s student and is working on a project about the Manitoba-Minnesota Transmission Line.

“I’m interested in energy security, I think it’s a really important project. I will be analyzing the routing method they use and based on that I will try to make a comparison with the Norwegian case,” she said. “In Norway they have a lot of transmission lines to go to Sweden, Denmark, Germany, and even the United Kingdom.”

Outside of class, Mendez Blancas says she’s been enjoying the city and exploring the wide variety of restaurants in Winnipeg.

Christopher James Paddon and his classmate Sverre Tronsmoen are compiling a report on the Enbridge Line 3 Replacement.

“We’re looking at the project to see it it’s economically viable and what the greenhouse gas emissions are related to the project. Also to see the complaints that have been made about it,” Paddon said, adding that they are analyzing what effect the enforcement of the national carbon tax will have on the project.

Of the exchange experience he said: “I think its really cool to get another perspective on the culture, and how the University is set up. Because you get one kind of picture from movies and stuff like that, and then you get here and it’s fun to see and experience.”

Three UWinnipeg students will be traveling to Norway to study at NTNU during the Fall Reading Week in October. Additionally, geography faculty members Drs. Joni and Christopher Storie are currently in Norway exploring further opportunities to collaborate through the Norway-Canada project.

Background

The Norway-Canada project is part of the High North Program and is funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and administered by the Norwegian Centre for International Cooperation in Education. The overall goal of the program is to expand, strengthen, and disseminate knowledge relevant to the High North regarding climate change, the environment, resources, transportation and logistics, economy, and issues relating to Indigenous peoples.

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