I want to be part of the energy transition
In 2018, after much bad luck and many relocations, Mohammed Alsaleh (36, from Iraq) arrived in the Netherlands. For eight years he had done nothing with his bachelor’s degree, but then a work-study programme took him to Witteveen+Bos.
‘As a child I had a passion for electricity. In my home country, Iraq, energy demand was high in the 1990s. It regularly had to be rationed in the summer. I wondered: Why? The scarcity piqued my curiosity. Physics and maths were my favourite subjects at school, and before long I realised: I’m going to study electrical engineering. I see my profession as a process of solving puzzles. When war broke out in Iraq, we fled with our family to Yemen, where I studied electrical power at Sana’a University. In 2010 I received my degree, but there was unrest in Yemen. We fled to Syria but that didn’t work out either. We had lots of bad luck. In 2018 we came to the Netherlands.’
‘For eight years I did nothing with my degree because of the wars in the countries where we were staying. Working wasn’t an option; I was dependent on my parents. Before I came to the Netherlands, I was convinced that my study had been for nothing. Once I was here I thought: It might be late, but not too late to do something with my degree. I saw possibilities. I immediately started learning Dutch and went looking for a course where I could refresh my knowledge. At HAN University of Applied Sciences I followed a work-study programme for former refugees with an electrical engineering background. There I developed all the necessary skills to enter the business community.’
‘The work-study programme was followed by a part-time course in electrical engineering. In connection with that I went looking for a work placement. That’s how I ended up at Witteveen+Bos. I looked at the website and knew right away: This is where I want to work. I was impressed by all the projects that are contributing to our future society. The Netherlands is working hard on the energy transition and I want to be part of that. Together with my colleagues, I translate the requirements and challenges of our clients – such as grid operators and water authorities – into functional technical designs for existing or new installations. My colleagues tell me I speak good Dutch but I want to improve it further. Nevertheless, I’m satisfied with where I am. I’m safe, I can put my knowledge to good use, and I do what I always dreamed of doing as a little boy.’