R&D Professional within the AMO team

From an early age, Brida was fascinated by mathematics, physics and chemistry. After her bachelor’s degree in her home country Cameroon, she went to France for her master's degree, and then went a step further to Belgium for her PhD. After her PhD, she briefly considered a job in the business world, but missed working at VITO. VITO is to her 'the best of both worlds'.

Brida grew up in a small village in Cameroon, where the residents were regularly confronted with power cuts. This triggered Brida, so much so that she wanted to dedicate her studies to solving such problems in her home country in the future. Brida: "When the electricity went out, we had to study with candles and kerosene lamps. Not convenient or healthy, so I wanted to fix that. Our community looks up to doctors and other medical professions, and my family tried to talk me out of it, but I did not give in. I stubbornly chose to study electrical engineering. (laughs) of course, they are proud of me now."

Renewable energy

"After my bachelor's degree, I went to Grenoble for my master's degree. It was interesting and exciting, but at the same time difficult because I went there all by myself. I lived there for two years and also did an internship in an industry. My interest in renewable energy grew, and I felt that I wasn't ready to work yet. I really wanted to do more research, so that I could help the people in Cameroon later on. It was my supervisor who sent me a vacancy for a PhD at KU Leuven (icw EnergyVille), which he had spotted on LinkedIn. I did not hesitate for long, I already knew that Belgium is at the top when it comes to education. So I applied for the position and got accepted," says Brida.

Fish in the water

In 2016, Brida started her PhD at KU Leuven and became a doctoral researcher at EnergyVille. Soon Brida felt like a fish in the water. Brida: "For four years I worked on, among other things, the development of data-driven control algorithms for residential demand response. An incredibly fascinating field. In November last year, my PhD ended and I was offered a job in a company(laughs) I was a Machine Learning Engineer at Magics Instruments. That was also interesting, but I missed working at VITO and EnergyVille, I missed the research! After less than a year, I was back at EnergyVille... But I must say that year taught me a lot. Working in a company is a totally different experience, you have to leave your comfort zone even more, you are constantly challenged with tasks in different domains. That makes you stronger, you learn to face more challenges. Moreover, within a company you have a lot of diversity in the tasks/projects. I was able to challenge and expand my skills and knowledge in other domains. My EnergyVille experience has given me a very solid backbone to function within a company, working within a team and individually. "


Brida: "The experience within the industry certainly comes in handy for me now at VITO. You learn to think in a different way, in function of a client and not only in function of research. At the same time, it has become clear to me that I want to focus on applied research . Data-driven optimisation of energy management systems is a field I want to build my expertise in, so that I can actively contribute to the development of an intelligent electrical network driven by renewable energy. I am also convinced that I can use the knowledge I am building up to help my country and other countries. In fact, I am already working on both national and international projects. That's precisely the strength of VITO and EnergyVille, that international scope."


It was Brida's colleagues at EnergyVille who informed her of the opportunities at VITO and quickly convinced her to return. Looking for a job was quite a challenge during the COVID lockdown; most companies/organisations were not hiring. Brida: "Thanks to my detailed LinkedIn profile, I was approached by recruiters. So if I have to give one tip to PhD students who are looking for a job, LinkedIn would be it! That is also how I ended up at Magics Instruments. As I said before, it was certainly an enriching experience, but in the industry you often have to focus on getting a solution that is 'good enough' within the shortest possible time. So another tip: if you would like to work in an industry, know that your mind has to be prepared for this." (laughs)

Best of both worlds

In the meantime, Brida has settled down in Geel. Brida: "I love my job at VITO. For me, VITO is the best of both worlds. You get the chance to do in-depth research within national and international projects in cooperation with industry, universities and research institutes. So from here I can contribute to projects in countries that need those skills and knowledge. Of course I miss my family, but fortunately there is Skype and Whatsapp. I speak with them almost every day. Unfortunately, and partly due to corona, I have not been to Cameroon since 2018. I am also happy in Belgium, I love that everything is so well organised! At first I thought it was special that they announce a delay of a train here!" (laughs) In the meantime, I also know some Cameroonians in Belgium, we are a small community and can chat a lot about home and about our experiences in Belgium. And if I want to clear my head, I go dancing! You will find me in the Zumba class three times a week! For the time being, my Dutch is not as good, but thanks to Dutch lessons, I am improving!

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