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Insights from a Solid Green Intern
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Insights from a Solid Green Intern

Final year student, Sarah Jacob, recently completed an internship with Solid Green. Here she recalls her learnings in our energy modelling and simulations department, and shares her experience gained as part of a larger team.


I am currently in my final year of study towards my BEng Mechanical Engineering degree at the University of Pretoria. I joined Solid Green Consulting at the beginning of the year to do my vacation work for a period of six weeks. I worked in the energy modelling and simulations department under Alex Varughese and Jeffy Palamattam, and learnt to use two different energy-modelling softwares, namely DesignBuilder and EDGE.

At first it was quite stressful and difficult but, with time, the more I used the softwares, the more it became easier to understand everything. These energy-modelling softwares helped me gain understanding and insight on how to model buildings and understand a lot of different concepts such as lighting, glazing, shading, HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) and building materials – among many others.

The work that I learned in my thermodynamic modules in 2nd and 3rd year acted as the basic building blocks that assisted me in understanding certain concepts such as heat transfer, HVAC and heat balance, and also helped me while analysing the results displayed after simulations.

Heat transfer was a common concept displayed and it was also part of my syllabus, which made it easier to understand when applied in this context. An example of it could be seen when picking the glazing type for a project. This is an important concept for building design and simulation, and when calculating the WWR (window to wall ratio) as it is important to make sure that there is adequate heat and light transferred to the space.

In DesignBuilder, there were many different HVAC loops that could be added to create a cycle and these contained different components. These loops would be added according to the specific application required. I did not have much knowledge on some of these loops but in my thermodynamics modules, I learned about the refrigeration cycle and different components that would be found in these loops, such as a heat exchanger, boiler, condenser and pump. This knowledge helped me a lot in understanding how the different loops worked. Overall, it was really interesting to see how the theoretical information learned is put into practice.

Besides the work experience gained, I also learned a lot of other things. The most important was communication and teamwork. It is so easy to make a mistake when you are working with a team of people so I learnt that communication is very important as one small thing left out creates problems which means that things need to be redone and time gets wasted. Everyone is under pressure to get things done, so you need to try your best to make sure that you listen and communicate well so that things move smoothly.

I would like to thank everyone at Solid Green who helped me and made it a very valuable experience that taught me a lot. Everyone was very kind and always ready to help whenever it was needed and, although I have not yet seen the new office due to COVID-19 restrictions, I still felt welcomed.

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