NEWBIE ALERT! Shakila Dhauntal has joined the ATELIER team on behalf of Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences. As the new project management assistant, she will work on three sustainable energy projects, ATELIER being one of them. She will support the team by taking care of project management and communication tasks. In this blog post, Shakila shares her first impressions on ATELIER.  

“I have been into making communities more resilient to the effects of climate change ever since I started studying International Studies at Leiden University. Renewable energy usually tops the list of changes the world can implement to delay the harmful effects of rising temperatures. ATELIER is a Smart City project of eight European cities focusing on renewable energy by implementing Positive Energy Districts (PEDs), and therefore the ideal project for me to spend my time on. Amsterdam and Bilbao are the Lighthouse Cities that will showcase urban solutions related to smart heating, cooling, electricity and electro mobility, while the cities of Bratislava, Budapest, Copenhagen, Krakow, Matosinhos, and Riga are Fellow Cities that will replicate and adapt successful smart urban solutions.

Starting a new job during a pandemic has not been easy. We are all working remotely and this is especially challenging for international projects, such as ATELIER. Nonetheless, I am trying my best to grasp as much as I can from the team meetings, project plans, and one-on-one meetings with colleagues. The first thing that I learned about this project is how multidisciplinary it is. ATELIER cuts across a wide range of sectors and involves the close cooperation with citizens, local stakeholders, governance institutions, and businesses. Having a background in public policy, this is particularly interesting to me, as I can see the added value of each stakeholder. Within the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences alone, there are many professors and researchers involved from different faculties.

Moreover, due to the size of the project, coordination and communication is very important. I have understood that prior to the pandemic, meetings were held in the Lighthouse Cities or Fellow Cities. These in-person meetings represent an opportunity to chat with everyone who is involved, also the people with whom you do not directly collaborate within a work package. The pandemic reinforced the idea that people are working together on their own islands within the project. It is thus even more important to have good communication lines between all the cities and the colleagues who are working on different parts of the project.

ATELIER is an awesome project, because we can learn a lot from the process of building PEDs and the results once they are built. With the building of PEDs, we are aiming at creating a better and more sustainable future. The pandemic influenced the way we cooperate now, but with the inspirational colleagues and partners that I have met so far, I am optimistic that we will attain a good outcome in the near future.”


Picture Credits: Unsplash