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Interview with the Intern: Meet Adal

By Suzanne Wallace on Wednesday 9 September 2015

This summer we were pleased to welcome Adalberto Guerra Cabrera, a Research Assistant from the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, to the IES Team on a five week internship. Now that his time at our Glasgow HQ has come to an end, we asked Adalberto to share his experience on our blog. Here is what he had to say about his time with us…

What is your background? What do you do at Masdar?
I’m currently a Masters Degree student at Masdar, studying the Sustainable Critical Infrastructure program. I’m just coming to the end of my first year and will be starting my second and final year shortly. My study time is divided equally between classes and research and my research topic is ‘Microclimate in cities’. Prior to studying at Masdar I was a Civil Engineer in Mexico, so it’s been a big change for me, moving country and occupation.

My family and girlfriend all live in Mexico and I get to visit them during holidays mainly, however I am lucky enough to be attending a conference there in October and look forward to seeing them all then.

How did the opportunity for your internship with IES come about?
I had a keen interest in the VE and its capabilities and during a discussion around strategies and solutions in a team meeting I mentioned this to my advisor. A week later I received an email asking if I’d be interested in an internship with IES at its headquarters in Glasgow. I was delighted to have been asked and accepted straight away. I am very grateful both to IES and my advisor for allowing me this opportunity. My advisor is very experienced and understands the real value you get from combining your studies and research with real world work experience.

What has your role involved at IES during your internship?
For the last 5 weeks I have been working with the Model Interface team and Birthe Klebow, testing the master planning tool. I used the tool to test models from Abu Dhabi and provided feedback from the tool. In the short time I have been here I’ve learnt many of the features of the VE and feel I can now use it properly and appreciate its vast capabilities. In Masdar there is a shortage of people that know how to use the VE, so one of my tasks when I return will be to help others use the software.

What have you enjoyed most about your time here with IES?
I’ve loved being around so many smart and very motivated people. Everyone is so enthusiastic and works very hard: it’s contagious and motivates me to be the same when I can see just what can be achieved. It’s been great to have experienced a real life working environment related to my studies and it is very encouraging to see how the work I am doing at Masdar can be applied to the real world and make a real difference. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know a different culture and seeing the way a company is organised here. I only have previous experience of working for a company in Mexico where everything seemed very rushed and stressful with extremely long hours. Here things are more focused, specialised and relaxed which makes for a much more productive environment.

How would you describe the people and culture at IES?
The people at IES are very smart, dedicated and passionate. Everyone treated me very well from the moment I arrived. The HR team have been very supportive throughout the whole experience, organising my trip and accommodation and giving me a nice introduction to the company on my arrival, telling me how everything works and who is who. The team I’ve worked with also made me feel very welcome. On my first day I had a team meeting where I was assigned a project based on my interests and was given realistic goals which I am pleased to say I have achieved. Throughout the internship, the team have been very supportive. I’ve had weekly meetings to review my progress and the team have given me some great advice and helpful information for my research. I have lots of new ideas and tools I can use for my thesis now.

Something that really struck me about the company was the transparency of information available to staff from senior management, for example, the statistics given in the quarterly presentation by Don, showing how the company is progressing. I think this is really important and really helps with staff motivation. I have never known this type of transparency before in a company.

Overall, if I were to describe the IES culture in one word I’d say ‘collaborative’. The way everyone works really well together and helps each other is really nice to see and I’ve really enjoyed being a part of this for the last 5 weeks.

What have you learned from your experience working with IES?
I’ve learned the importance of collaborating with others to achieve goals. It’s been a wonderful learning experience in that I can see the similarities between my research in the lab at Masdar and the research that is being carried out here with IES and it really motivates me knowing that we are on the same track. IES is one of the only companies that I know to combine commercial activity with research and it makes me really happy to have been a part of this.

What advice would you give to anyone thinking about undertaking an internship with IES?
I would highly recommend it to anyone considering an internship and I look forward to reporting back at Masdar on how good it has been for my development and my future studies. If I were to offer any advice I’d say: do your research and check out current developments IES are working on so you are prepared before you go. Most importantly, remember to pack a rain jacket or buy one if you don’t have one!

Anything else you’d like to tell us about?
Aside from what I’ve learnt with IES, it’s been a good cultural experience, visiting Scotland. It was my first time in the UK and I have really enjoyed visiting museums and taking in the city of Glasgow. I’ve even enjoyed the weather – it gets so hot in Abu Dhabi so the rain has been a nice change. Also, the landscape is so very different. In Scotland, everything is green so I’ve made sure I’ve taken my camera everywhere so I have some great pictures to take back to Masdar.

Although my time here has been short, I have built some great working relationships and I look forward to keeping in touch and continuing those relationships when I return to Masdar.

*Update (8/6/2016): Adalberto has recently returned to IES as a full time employee, working as a Consultant in the IES R&D department*


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