Shqipe Buzuku is admiring the lush landscape through the windows of Deltamarin’s office in Turku, the city she now calls home. Shqipe, who obtained her PhD in Industrial Engineering and Management in 2019, was recruited to the ship engineering company Deltamarin for a UNICOM industry placement period and later hired as a permanent member of the energy team.

Shqipe Buzuku‘s first mobile phone was a Nokia. But that wasn’t the only thing she knew about Finland. Ever since her childhood, Shqipe had been fascinated by the Finnish winter, Lapland, and the mythical Santa Claus.

Shqipe, who moved from Kosovo’s Pristina to Lappeenranta ten years ago to do her doctoral research, had considered studying in other countries as well. But thanks to its unique allure, Finland won her over.

“When I moved to Finland, I was able to visit the land of Santa Claus and experience all that magic. The snowy winter was also a new experience, it made a lasting impression,” recalls Shqipe.

Shqipe settled in Turku around 18 months ago for her postdoctoral studies at Åbo Akademi. Already during her master’s studies in chemical engineering at the University of Pristina, Shqipe was passionate about understanding circular economy, life cycle analysis and the environmental impact of materials. During her time as an EU project researcher at the Lappeenranta–Lahti University of Technology, she delved even deeper into these topics.

After a while, Shqipe felt the need to further explore the combination of academic research and practical methods. Being an eager and curious learner, she applied for the Arcada University of Applied Sciences’ one-year degree programme in engineering.

That’s when the UNICOM project’s call for applications opened and Shqipe was subsequently recruited at Deltamarin. Before her industry placement period at Deltamarin, she had little experience on the maritime industry and even seafaring in general.

“I travelled over the Helsinki–Tallinn ferry route for the first time just this summer,” she confesses with a smile.

Diverse skillsets speed up shipbuilding

Deltamarin employs around 450 people both in Finland and abroad. Shqipe is part of the company’s energy team, where her work is focused on energy modelling. The goal is to implement increasingly efficient low-emission solutions in the early stages of ship design.

Mia Elg, current Development Director and an employee of Deltamarin since 2007, says that while energy modelling has been part of ship design for a long time, the knowledge and understanding of what energy efficiency is all about has changed dramatically over the last decade.

Stricter legislation on CO2 emissions has played a part in this accelerating development.

“In the past, the focus was mainly on what was coming out of the ship’s smokestack. Now the energy efficiency of all technical aspects of shipbuilding are being studied and modelled, including the type of fuel the ship is running on, where and how that fuel is produced, what materials are used in the construction of the ship, and how the ship’s own recycling system works.”

Shqipe’s major contribution to the energy team is her expertise in life cycle analysis, a very welcome new addition to the team’s pool of skills. Her role has been to develop different methods for ship life cycle analysis that can be integrated into Deltamarin’s digital design process. Based on these analyses, suggestions for improvements can be implemented in the engineering and construction phases.

Mia points out that as energy modelling is constantly evolving, every team member needs to be flexible and able to apply their thinking to new approaches. Not everyone needs to have a background in maritime engineering; the entire maritime sector benefits from the new ways of thinking brought on by diverse and versatile talents.

“Shqipe has the right attitude and determination, a willingness to learn and the ability to adapt to challenging situations. We need different personalities in our group so that, as a team, we can effectively respond to changing conditions in the industry,” says Mia Elg.

A welcome challenge

Shqipe is certainly not afraid of challenges. She is, for example, the first Albanian woman in the world to get a doctoral degree in the field of Industrial Engineering and Management. Her multi-year studies in Finland have been made possible thanks to scholarships and grants, for which Shqipe is grateful.

With her life moving nicely along on the right tracks, Shqipe finds plenty of positive things in Turku and Southwest Finland. She is particularly fond of the surrounding archipelago, and enjoys exploring the local sights, nature, and urban culture together with a Kosovan friend. Thanks to her language studies, Shqipe’s also able to speak a little Finnish.

Shqipe describes Finns as being proactive, punctual, and polite. This is evident in both the day-to-day working life and in extremely challenging situations, such as during the coronavirus crisis.

“It can be difficult to break the ice at first, but you can make a real friend out of a Finn if you take the time to get to know them,” Shqipe laughs.

Text: Heidi Horila
Translation: Turku Business Region
Photos and video: Mama Creative

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