From Brazil to Denmark

Coming from Brazil and being used to have very limited opportunities I was overwhelmed when started my MSc in Design and Innovation at DTU with the amount of possibilities to grow in my career and to learn new things. Back in Brazil I was already used to work hard and try my best to not let go the few opportunities available at university. So, imagine here at DTU, where I found so many different options. I must admit that in the beginning I had troubles as I got involved in too many things at the same time, actually I still am, but I am getting slightly better at managing everything! I would like to use the rest of the lines of this post to present you some of the exciting things which kept me busy here at DTU. The majority of the courses I have taken at DTU involves real cases from companies, where the students get the chance to have a closer contact with them and apply the theory learned in class directly. That is done not individually, you are always assigned to a group or you are to form that yourself (which sometimes can be a challenge…some people say, not for a Brazilian though :P). In these groups be ready to discuss, a lot! So, my suggestion here is, to be patient and to try to use this as an opportunity to learn how to persuade, make your points and convince the rest of the group to adopt your suggestions, this will be an important experience for your future work. Here, there is a big contrast to my studies in Brazil where I was used to learn the biggest part of the theory on my own, sometimes with a friend, and get ready to an individual written exam. At DTU the evaluations change and vary according to the type of courses that you are taking. If it is more technical, you will be requested to transmit the knowledge individually through a written exam, the main difference I found here is in the learning process where real cases/problems are adopted to be discussed in class among your classmates. But to be more specific about the courses I have taken, I will mention two of them which I found very interesting.

DTU courses
The Siemens Case Competition.
This one I took even before the classes started, I found it by chance at the DTU web page and subscribed for it. Even though it was not a normal course, but more like a Company Challenge (Open innovation) I could apply for credits on my master so I consider it as course. You can do this kind of things at DTU, you have 30 ECTS points of electives (that is equivalent to one semester) that you can take in any field of your interest. Some people like to take an internship or go abroad. So, about the course; Siemens presented the cases we had to solve in groups, my group took the subject named ‘The future tram’, we worked intensively on this subject for 2 weeks. We had good reasons to keep up the motivation. We had our eyes on the prizes of the competition. 1st prize: 2000€, 2nd prize: 1.500€ and a trip to their factory in Jutland where they build wind turbines. To jump straight to the end, our group got the second prize, which means (€€€ + a very nice trip to their facilities, with everything paid). There are more courses like that held at DTU for example OI-X from Skylab.

Local Business Development in Bornholm.
It was among the best course I have taken in my MSc programme. We were a very small group of students from both DTU and ITU working together with teachers from both universities. In this course we lived in the island of Bornholm for 2 weeks, all the costs were covered by DTU and ITU. We lived all in the same place, where we had lectures in the morning and worked in our groups during the afternoon and many days during night as well. What was so good about this course was that we worked very close with company owners from Bornholm in trying to bring innovation to their work and also proposing some suggestions so they could expand to other markets. We had all the resources to do that. Both when we had to go out in the city to do research, and also when we needed to clarify some points about the theory with the teachers, who became very close to us. This is something very common you will find at DTU. First, you don’t call your teacher Professor x,y,z, or Mr. x,y,z, or anything like that. You simply call him/her by his/her first name. The teachers try to create “a free thinking and open dialogue” environment at class. This makes it very easy when you want to discuss or raise a question about the theory. That is just one example of the low hierarchy you can find between students and teachers.

Extra-curricular activities
So, on my first semester I started out in a group called Stardust-DTU. Stardust-DTU is a non-profit student driven organization, operating at DTU-Skylab. Together with DTU and other partners, our long-term goal is to establish a strong and reliable entrepreneurial system at DTU and support devoted students to develop their ideas and become the entrepreneurs of tomorrow. There we work extensively in connecting important Danish stakeholders of the entrepreneurial scene with the students by creating the perfect environment to the students to pitch their ideas to investors and spin out their companies. We organize open Inspirational Talk events and our main performance-boosting Startup Program (SSP). Here it has been great for me to learn about the startup community in Copenhagen and also how to become an entrepreneur. Right now I have two developing ideas that I hope could become a Startup.

The Youth Goodwill Ambassador of Denmark.
I have participated in this program for one year and I also joined this in my first semester at DTU. The people behind it, Copenhagen Capacity, are making a very good job in giving the selected international students very good insights about the Danish working culture and what the Danish companies are looking for on their new employees. The organizers also have brought Danish global business like Mærsk, Novo Nordisk, Coloplast and Microsoft to discuss with the students especially about the importance of attracting and retaining international talents to Denmark. One big task I had from this program was to prepare a press release from one of our meetings which had an important guest, His Royal Highness Prince Joachim of Denmark. Each participant had to send the press release to their country of origin. The goal is to try to create bilateral mobility and future career opportunities in Denmark.
Thanks to this activity I end-up getting in touch with many newspapers who were interested in my journey until now, in Denmark - it was almost like I was famous!
Well, DTU also published my press release on this occasion and it turns out that I have been now invited to go to São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro as DTU Ambassador to talk to other Brazilian students in a conference about my experiences as a MSc. student at DTU which will be also a very interesting experience to me.

So, to finalize this post, what I have tried to present you with is the diversity of opportunities that you can be involved while being a student at DTU. I have also tried to show, more or less, the approach used by the University at the degree I am taking. I hope I have inspired you not to be afraid of trying new things in a foreign country as I wasn’t. It will certainly be a challenge in many ways but I believe the outcome is definitely worth trying.

 Alfredo, MSc in Design and Innovation, Brazil