Prosperous winds have been blowing for the PhairywinD project, but the virtual standstill during the Covid pandemic made (live) interactions with industry near impossible and we are sorry we have not been able to share our progress with you so far.
That's why we offer this project recap to bring you, as an industrial partner, up to speed with all that has been going on the last 2 - 2 1/2 years and also to look forward together towards the near future.
The objectives of the PhairywinD project are threefold:
Research: Allowing high-quality research in offshore wind PhDs
Training: Offering diverse training to gain technical and soft skills
Mobility: Implementing (work environment) mobility for 9 offshore wind PhD researchers from and across all Belgian universities (via site visits, networking events, secondments, etc.)
Those individual objectives are interesting from a stand-alone perspective, but the link between these objectives and the collaborative spirit of the project consortium make this project unique.
We cover 9 research tracks, which are linked to 9 motivated researchers. The overview of their work & the link to their respective individual research pages can be found on our research page. However, these 9 researchers are a starting point of the much larger and interconnected academic community: our academic backbone.
From 2020 to 2022
In March '20, the first kick-off of PhairywinD was held, one week before the first of many Covid-19 lockdowns. The first 2 milestones were achieved in September '20: all of the 9 PhD candidates were hired and we held the first of 3 (bi-annual) WindWeeks, including an inspiring visit of the Seamade - SGRE Assembly yard and a boat trip to the concession zone.
A total of 24 researchers, including the PhairywinDers, attended this week under a strict Covid policy (see aftermovie here). This was our first, important step, to build the Belgian offshore wind PhD community.
In '21 we focused on the initial academic (data management & collaboration) and personal development (soft skills like research communication pitching) of the researchers, as well as keeping morals high during restrictions which often forced us to highly restrict or even cancel academic and industrial events and congresses. Conversely, this gave the PhDs the chance to focus on their research, whilst we supported them in supplementary skills.
In Q1 of '22 we visited the yards of Smulders & Engie Fabricom (Equans) in Hoboken and attended the Belgian Offshore Days, where we explicitly invited the researchers to get in touch with industry. For some, this effectively meant stepping out of their comfort zone. In a feedback session we shared experiences.
But the major focus for 2022 will be on the organisation of the EAWE PhD Seminar in Bruges (2-4/11/22), which the 9 PhairywinD PhDs took up as an independent team. Follow their journey and progress here: https://phd2022.eawe.eu/ or get involved (more on the options soon)!