2022 graduate

Solaride Alumni Andres Nöps: I Learned More at Solaride in One Year than I Would’ve in a Decade at College

We’d like to introduce you to Andres Nöps, our previous electronics team lead who now works at a large tech company as a Development Manager. Andres believes that Solaride played a big part in getting him where he is today.

Andres’ interest in engineering started early in his childhood when he would take apart toy cars or radios and rewire them to his liking. This passion spurred him later towards picking Cyber-Physical Systems Engineering as his major at the TalTech Tartu College:

“I was attending a science course at Tartu University, where Johannes Kadak was telling me about an upcoming new major that will likely be so difficult there’s no point in even trying it out. So, naturally, both of us enrolled in it.” Andres later admitted it wasn’t as hard as Johannes had made it out to be, but it definitely took a lot of effort.

In early 2020, Andres joined Solaride as an electronics team lead. However, when he first heard about Solaride, he thought the project was too crazy to be true.

“I was quite skeptical at first. One of the founders, Kertu Toompea, was touring around sharing her vision for the project. It sounded so surreal, I didn’t think it could be done. Then I heard Tiit Liivik (Founding Engineer for Starship Technologies) talking about the same project on some podcast. I thought to myself, if freaking Tiit Liivik is talking about this, it must be true.”

Photo: Jaagup Susi

Solaride was just starting up these days - we didn’t have much money, but we did have a whole lot of ambition and even bigger dreams. The team faced many challenges and often contributed to projects and areas outside of their own expertise to keep the vision on track. Andres, for example, got to try his hand at fundraising.

“What did my time at Solaride teach me? More like, what didn’t it teach me? It is hard to put it in words. It’s a full stack through and through. I appreciated how all teams at Solaride collaborated on each project. Kristel Leif, for example, would take me with her to donor meetings, which gave me an opportunity to see a lot beyond my usual tasks and learn from a variety of teams. It was incredibly cool and interesting to learn from the pros, meet the entrepreneurs, schools, city counsels, etc.”

Photo: Tiit Liivik

It was his work at Solaride that caught the attention of his current employer, Bercman Technologies. They came across him through one of our engineering highlights on Instagram Stories. Andres recalls:

“They sent me a direct message, inviting me to visit their office and chat. I think I did that about three or four times and things just evolved from there,” Andres reminisces, “They offered me a Development Manager position, which fits me perfectly. I enjoy brainstorming, inventing and dreaming big.”

Photo: Instagram

His experience at Solaride also helped him onboard a lot faster than the regular process. The skills and culture had prepared him well. In his words:

“Everything I had learned from Solaride hit the bullseye. It is just such a practical experience. We are so lucky to learn under our top quality mentors like Tiit Liivik and Tõnu Samuel - I couldn’t thank them enough. I really think you couldn’t learn all that I learned at Solaride in a single year even if you spent a whole decade in a classical university setting.”

In addition to his daytime job as Development Manager, Andres also builds electric surfboards. Currently, the surfboards are a fun side-project, but they definitely hold a great business potential. Andres describes his process:

“There will always be some setbacks, but they are also accompanied by great advancements. That’s how things start moving along the right path. Every day we dream of taking our boards on a test-ride, but then we find a few more things to tweak. That’s the thing with every project - the ideas might seem simple enough, but as you get into the nitty gritty, you’ll discover all the layers behind it. For the surfboard, we need to find a way to make it powerful, while keeping it completely waterproof. You’d be surprised how difficult it is to create something that is entirely waterproof. At least our solar car didn’t have to deal with that.”

Photo: Instagram

Even though Andres is now our alumni, he highly recommends the Solaride experience to others. He says the lessons and contacts he acquired from his time with us will stay close to his heart forever.

“You really gain the confidence to do something with your own hands. From there, the same confidence will open new doors for you. You won’t be as scared to risk, and you also won’t be afraid to fail from time to time - instead, you’ll be bold enough to try something new. I believe this courage to be the key to an extraordinary life.”

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