Tiit Liivik, the leading mentor of the engineering field’s project Solaride, said: “A university education alone is not enough to achieve competency in the field of technology. Practical work experience should be part of engineering studies.”
Liivik will not take no for an answer. He is the co-founder and engineer of Starship Technologies, the world’s most successful robot courier manufacturer and aspiring unicorn. Starship completed a million autonomous deliveries by the beginning of this year.
Liivik explained that young people have the theoretical knowledge and googling skills – however, only a few can apply their knowledge to real life. “Every day, I see the positive impact that the project Solaride has for the development of the youth,” Liivik added.
A solar-powered car is a technically complicated challenge, but at the same time it is an undertaking with a mission: it’s an opportunity to contribute to making the transport sector more sustainable. Although the people who initially came up with the idea have now left Solaride, its team has exponentially grown and now includes 70 students from different Estonian universities.
Liivik is not the only well-known Estonian top leader who is participating in this project. Risto Mäeots, who is the director of Magnetic MRO, a world-class airplanes’ maintenance and repair service in Estonia, explains why he has decided to participate in the project on the Solaride website: “What was significant yesterday is good today and will be ordinary tomorrow. I admire the discipline that focuses its energy towards breaking out of the ordinary. Solaride has taken on a complicated task. That’s important, because geniuses are born out of difficulty.”
Kristjan Maruste, one of the founders of CoModule, has also signed up as a mentor. CoModule helps to connect vehicles such as electrical scooters and bicycles with the Internet. Last year they took things a step further and now they also manufacture a sustainable scooter Tuul, which can even endure winters in Estonia. It is important to highlight that 40% of the bicycle’s material is recycled and almost 90% of its components are also recyclable. CoModule is also developing an electrical bicycle and is involved in the manufacturing of motorbikes in Sweden with the startup company CAKE.
Auve Tech, Estonian manufacturer of autonomous vehicles, is also a contributor. In his secret factory, 15 vehicles have been manufactured which are already navigating the streets of Europe, and a new batch is ready to go into production. Auve Tech’s council is led by Taavi Rõivas who has twice served as the Prime Minister of Estonia.
One of Scandinavia’s biggest science and business campuses Tehnopol is also participating in the project. They along with the government decided to support Solaride with 180,000 euros. The director of Tehnopol’s green technology field Ragmar Saksing explained: “Building a solar car makes sense for everyone but at the same time it is also a surreal challenge. In addition to the invaluable experiences that the participating students, companies and government institutions will gain, the remarkable activities of the programme will encourage our youth in general.” He thinks that they will be encouraged by the fact that Solaride is an environment for practical knowledge, contacts, finances and testing.
Solaride’s executive director Kristel Leif said it is a long-term project. She explained: “Let’s think about it from a long-term perspective. Today we are building a solar car. Maybe in five years we will be building a solar plane.” She thinks that this could develop into the first practical educational programme in Estonia where students can turn their knowledge into skills. Solaride is mostly targeted at training engineers and popularising engineering fields but investors, marketers, public relations managers and representatives of many other fields can also gain practical experience. They operate in both Tallinn and Tartu.
The first Estonian solar-powered car should be ready by this summer when the first test drives will be carried out on the streets. Solaride along with the solar cars of the world’s leading universities will enter the World Solar Challenge competition in 2023.
Estonia has a long history and competence of generating energy and moving resolutely towards becoming climate neutral. New solutions are invented through cooperation between scientists and businesses all the time, whether that’s in energy storage, the adoption of green energy or sustainable technology.
Do you want to learn more about Estonia’s energy sector? Read more here and if you want to learn more about investing opportunities to Estonia, you can book a meeting with our advisor via e-Consulting.