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Siemens joins hands with GEMS for internship programme

Students of GEMS FirstPoint School – The Villa, Dubai, gain exposure to HVAC- and lighting-related energy efficiency technologies

| | Aug 4, 2021 | 5:47 pm
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Working on a two-year intermittent internship at Siemens, a select group of four students from GEMS FirstPoint School – The Villa, Dubai, learnt firsthand about sustainable development and the latest HVAC- and lighting-related energy efficiency technologies, amongst other aspects of building performance.

Matthew Tompkins

The internship was an outcome of an MoU between Siemens and GEMS Education to increase collaboration and integration between industry and the education sector. Siemens said the partnership builds on ‘Rahhal’, an initiative of Dubai’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), which encourages schools to think outside the box and develop innovative learning opportunities that benefit students.

The Siemens-GEMS engagement – based on the UAE National Youth Agenda, the UAE Vision 2021, Abu Dhabi Vision 2030 and the UN Sustainable Development Goals – aims to explore sustainability and implementation of measures, enhance future employability of students, support the cause of creating a sustainable knowledge economy, and promote digitalisation and innovation.

As part of the internship, the students spent time interacting with Siemens employees at their workplace, in Dubai, where they not only learnt about the latest energy efficiency-related technologies and tools, ventilation strategies, controls and monitoring but also about such aspects as cost of installation and the overall structuring of business. They also had the opportunity of spending time with procurement and HSE teams at Siemens.

Jude Mirjan, one of the interns, described the experience as “unlike anything I could have expected”. She said she went to the internship expecting it to be more of paperwork and theorising but was pleasantly surprised to receive practical insights into building performance.

Jamie Hoyzer

Another intern, Smitinjay Srivastava, agreed with Mirjan – that the experience enriched his understanding of practical aspects. “We did a lot of theory and moved to the practical side, and it was easy to do,” he said. “While we did measurement on site, I was more interested in the business side of things, the cost of installing the system and the ventilation.”

The highlight of the internship, the students said, was the intended opportunity of learning in the context of implementing the full spectrum of lessons on energy efficiency at FirstPoint and improving its ecological footprint and lowering its total cost of ownership (TCO) over a period of time – key objectives of the Siemens-GEMS collaboration.

The students identified the energy profile of the school, in terms of HVAC and lighting systems. Working with energy engineers, they took part in exercises aimed at calculating its energy profile and arriving at the point of correlating intervention measures with the extent of energy savings.

Subsequently, Siemens commenced work on installing energy-efficiency devices at FirstPoint, with the objective of reducing power consumption by 15% of the baseline. The scope of work involved installing variable frequency drives, adiabatic cooling and demand[1]controlled ventilation, and the upgradation of the Building Management System (BMS).

The students attend a briefing session at the Siemens office

The onset of COVID-19, in the first quarter of 2020, meant the students were unable to shadow and witness the implementation phase of the internship. For Matthew Tompkins, Principal/CEO, FirstPoint, the internship opportunity and the broader Siemens-GEMS collaboration is pure gold, nevertheless. At one level is the opportunity of overhauling old energy systems, he pointed out. “We have 1,500 students and 240 staff members at FirstPoint,” he said. “It is a large facility that was built eight years ago. Technology has moved forward significantly since then.”


Tompkins said the school was investing towards making significant energy savings. The ROI, Siemens said, was attractive and would have appeared even more so, had it not been for COVID-19. “The payback period is a bit longer because of the baseline and because we had COVID-19, and the school was closed, which saw a drop in energy consumption,” said Jamie Hoyzer, Executive Vice President, Finance, Smart Infrastructure, Energy & Performance Services, Siemens Industrial LLC. “If the school had been operational, the payback period would have been less.” Nevertheless, Siemens said its intervention at FirstPoint would see significant reduction in energy use and subsequent lowering of greenhouse gas emissions – equivalent to planting 8,000-plus trees or providing energy to 50-plus households.

For Tompkins, the bigger picture, he said, is the development of the students. “We pride ourselves in developing the leaders of tomorrow, and I am proud of the students,” he said. “These people will go forward with the mindset of sustainability.” When viewed from that perspective, he said he was delighted, as it was an attempt to narrow the gap between academic institutions and industry. “The gap between education and industry is getting wider and wider,” he said. “So, we felt the need to do this. The students have done a two-year internship with a globally recognised company. They know what it is like to work there, and they have seen that already. They give confidence to employers that these students have already gone through all of that. We are bringing industry and education together.”

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