Team Interviews: Lukas Fierens
Lukas Fierens is in his final year of Engineering Sciences Electronics at the Catholique University of Leuven at Campus Group T and is specialised in Intelligent Electronics. Together with his colleague Ruben Dhondt, he is responsible for the department High & Low Voltage at Punch Powertrain Solar Team.
What was your motivation to join the Solar Team?
“In the beginning of my career at university, I was not thinking of joining the Solar Team. As I had just changed from studies of Engineering to Engineering Sciences Electronics, my focus was mainly on my studies and not on other projects. However, I was already enthusiastic since every semester at Campus Group T we had a practical exercise. Therefore, the Solar Team seemed to be the ultimate practical exercise for me. The ecological aspect attracted me, since electrical cars are the future in my opinion. Battery powered cars are the start, but these only have a limited lifespan, while solar cars can drive without limit. I wanted to be part of this evolution. I specifically chose High & Low Voltage as a department since it was in line with my studies.”
What is High & Low Voltage?
“Together with my colleague Ruben, we work on the different types of electronics that are in the car. Ruben takes care of everything that is low voltage and I do the High Voltage. High Voltage, for us, means everything above 150V. Most of the time I am occupied with the battery pack in the car. This is the main source of power for the car. We purchased our battery cells from an expert and will place these in a specific structure to make the car as efficient as possible and to get as much power out of the batteries as possible. It is my job to place the battery cells in the most optimal structure. Apart from this, I develop the structure that carries the batteries. This structure is created with a 3D printer. After this has all been done we do several tests with the batteries, ranging from discharging test to durability tests. This to make sure that the battery pack is as efficient as possible.”
As the battery pack is such a key component, you must be working together with different departments?
“For High Voltage, I work together with the department that covers the solar panels. This way we have a good connection between the solar panels and the battery to create as much power as possible. Apart from this, we also work together closely with the people from the Structural department. They give us the space in which we have to be able to place the battery pack. This is a process of giving and taking. Sometimes you simply need more space.”
What is the most important thing you have learned here in the Solar Team?
“The most important thing I have learned here is working together with different companies. You get to know so many different contacts here that can help you later on when applying for a job. Apart from this, Solar Team is the ultimate practical experience. Due to this experience you learn that there is a huge gap sometimes between theory and practice. The group feeling is also a strong motivator: you work together towards a common goal, which is an amazing bonding experience.”