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Intern Insights: Internship at a start-up company for sustainable energy transition – AltoTech

03 Dec 2021
Sanjeet Amatya

By Nitipol Kiravanich

AIT Master’s Degree student in Sustainable Energy Transition from the School of Environment, Resources and Development (SERD) — Ms. Piyawan Sangdokmai (Milk) shared her insights on improving energy efficiency in a real business setting.  Find out how her internship has led her to secure a permanent position at AltoTech, a startup company founded by AIT alumnus.

Out of her passion in the area of sustainable energy, Ms. Sangdokmai or Milk took part in an internship program at a startup consulting organization “AltoTech”. The company was founded by AIT Alumnus Dr. Warodom Khamphanchai who received his M. Eng. In Energy, class of 2011. There, Milk has capitalized on her knowledge in the utilization of the emerging Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology for energy management in buildings, offices, and hotels. 

Earlier in October this year, AltoTech together with B. Grim Power Public Company Limited – a Thailand-based energy company that focuses on the development, financing, construction, and operation of green-field power plants — was awarded the Best Performance ARI Tech Startup Award at the National Innovation Agency (NIA)’s Deep Tech Incubation Program@EEC which Dr. Kampanchai explained “We are the innovative energy startup based in Bangkok Thailand developing a digital platform that will help buildings save and manage their energy consumption with AI, IoT, and Big Data technologies.” 

With a background in Environmental Engineering from her bachelor’s degree, Milk has an interest in waste and environmental system management, and foresaw a linkage of converting waste into energy and sought the opportunity to expand her knowledge. This led her to pursue higher education at AIT. She believes the program and knowledge acquired from here can be applied to her future career.

“I have utilized the compounded knowledge received from Prof. Kumar (Prof. Sivanappan Kumar) and other professors from the Department of Energy in the real work,” the Sustainable Energy Transition student highlighted the notion where students may find many studies, research, and theories to be impractical in the real working environment. For Milk, however, working in professional setting is a stage where all the knowledge one acquired can be synchronized into execution. 

Furthermore, she expressed that AIT has assisted her with the opportunity to participate in an internship program in which she has unexpectedly secured a permanent position as an “Energy Engineer” at AltoTech. The Sustainable Energy Transition student said she did not have any expectations apart from learning opportunities. However, she has realized that the company’s mission and skills required are aligned with her thesis, as well as equipping her with the resources that she can apply in the area of energy. 

Voicing her opinion on the distinction between traditional organization and startup environment company, the Sustainable Energy Transition Master’s student opined according to her personal experience that the former tend to focus on research and paper-based tasks, while the latter allows her to think in terms of economic viability where solutions propose have to answer client’s needs. During her internship program, Milk’s responsibilities are the core of the company’s activities, which include conducting energy auditing, analyzing energy consumption, and modeling simulation of buildings. These responsibilities are tasked to enhance energy efficiency and reduce unnecessary consumption while at the same time reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG) from buildings. 

“Today, energy is a necessity for everyone. This matter is fundamental to humans’ lives. And in the future, I will still be relevant to the world”, Milk concluded. She added that for her, there are rooms for becoming an expert in the area of energy management, which is her pursuit. 

Dr. Kamphanchai explained that Ms. Piyawan has worked with AltoTech on developing digital twins for buildings. Based on what she built and developed, it will provide a testbed for the company’s AI team to develop algorithms that will significantly help buildings to better manage their energy. Furthermore, the intern’s supervisor added that, “Ms. Piyawan is skilled and talented, especially on subjects she’s learned from AIT. In addition, during the internship, she has shown her professionalism and enthusiasm. It is clear that she is a good fit for our company, and that she is ready to work in the industry.”

From this internship, Milk has obtained new skills in modeling the building, utilizing AI to improve energy efficiency and providing thermal comfort (air-conditioning) which she is currently developing into her thesis on ‘Impacts of AI on building energy usage: Case study of office building in Thailand’. 

AltoTech is a startup consulting company that specializes in energy consumption reduction and carbon footprint that provides services and solutions to buildings, offices, and hospitalities to maximize cost-efficiency utilizing AI and IoT (Internet of Things).

‘Intern Insights’ is a series of internship stories, told by students participating in AIT Internship Program. It provides a glimpse into student’s experience with a reputable organization, what they have learned and how it has inspired them. Each month, there will be a story of an internship with a different organization participating in the Internship Program – stay tuned!