Sustainable Energy students learning new lessons

University of Queensland Master of Sustainable Energy students are learning about climate change and building a low-carbon future – and they are also now tackling the challenges of studying online.

Since UQ moved to remote teaching in response to COVID-19, the master students have taken part in three intensive courses behind screens and devices from home, in place of week-long courses on campus.

Second-semester, part-time student Nathan Blundell said face-to-face intensive teaching weeks were important to establish relationships with classmates, and he had missed small conversations between classes and at lunch breaks.

Students sitting around a table
Students are missing in-person classes but are learning valuable skills in the meantime.

“The in-class experience is different, but we still have great guest lecturers and open discussion online,” Mr Blundell said.

“Zoom has break-out rooms and even an online debate which is great practice for the current remote working environment.

“I am 100 per cent working from home so the skills required to participate in class discussion and group assignments online translate directly to my work life.”

Mr Blundell said he had been keeping his life and studies going as normally as possible.

“I exercise as normal and treat my home office like a lecture theatre,” he said.

“Even though the class is online, I try to participate as if we are in person.

“I ask lots of questions, discuss things offline with classmates and email lecturers to follow up on discussions to keep a connection.”

Another part-time student in the program, Nigel Lott, said he was missing on-campus interactions with fellow students, however balancing work and study at home had given him new insights.

“I have learned that my previous work-study home life was, in fact, quite well integrated and balanced, and it was effective at providing mental breaks and getting exercise,” Mr Lott said. “I should appreciate it more!

“To cope with the situation, I made a study plan with input from my family.

“I have rescheduled some work, and I then try to make myself stick to the plan.

“I also make a point of getting outside regularly as otherwise it doesn't just happen.”

International student Tony Geng is writing a thesis for the professional project in his last semester of the Master program.

He was visiting his home country of China as the borders closed this year due to COVID-19. He remains in China but has been working productively on his UQ studies.

“It is challenging to work on the same thing for hours a day,” Mr Geng said.

 Judit Losh.
Professor Peta Ashworth and students hold weekly 'tea sessions' to share advice and mental support. Photo: Judit Losh.

“But I have been in weekly online contact with my two advisors; I have taken part in online tutorial sessions and I have joined the weekly Friday ‘tea sessions’ that Professor Peta Ashworth holds for advice and mental support to each of us during these tough times.

“My strategy is to make the best use of the resources available to us, work hard on my project and make simple and small steps progressing until it is finished.”

Mr Geng said he was “very much looking forward to getting back to a more normal life on the other side of COVID-19”.

“I really look forward to returning to Australia and UQ to see everyone again and to get back to my swimming routines as part of the UQ swimming squad.”

Contact: Marian Lunah Sommer,, ph +61  7 3346 3464.


Last updated:
4 June 2020