At TUMCREATE, as we prepare to conclude our research in Phase Two – Towards the Ultimate Public Transport System, we would like to highlight our researchers who continue to make significant contributions to the programme. Through our interview series, People behind the Science, we talk to our researchers to discover more about them and their stories.
Marc Gallet from the team Electrification Suite and Test Lab (ESTL) joins us today.
Most TUMCREATE researchers have lived in multiple cities and Marc is no exception. France, Munich and Singapore are all places he calls home. As a well-travelled individual, he dreams of being allowed to become a global citizen one day. With so many to achieve in his life and work, what gets him going is his love for computers and programming. For him, music is a great company when he’s in action - problem solving.
Q: Tell us about yourself and what you do…
My name is Marc Gallet and I am a researcher and doctoral candidate in the ESTL team. Our team’s focus is to study the integration of electromobility and renewable energy solutions in the electric grid.
For my PhD topic, I work more specifically on the electrification of public buses. I develop city-scale models to determine the energy needed for electric buses to perform their trips and the electric power required at charging stations to recharge them. My work is at the interface between mobility simulation and modelling and energy system analysis. Coming from an electrical engineering background, I have become very interested in public transportation and mobility models and these past years have been a great learning opportunity.
Q: What made you come to Singapore, and how has it been like living here?
It’s actually a long story but here’s the short version! Back in 2012 when I was studying in Munich, I lived in a shared apartment with other international students from all around the world. Each semester, there would be a change of roommates and as fate would have it, I met my future wife! She was doing her semester exchange from Nanyang Technological University. After she returned, I visited her on a holiday and discovered Singapore for the first time. I was greatly impressed by the city. Fast forward to 2017, I got the opportunity to join TUMCREATE and work in my favourite field of research. Without a doubt, I took up the offer and started to settle and live with her here.
I adapted to the climate and lifestyle here very quickly, especially since I love summers in general, so a place with all-year-round summer is just perfect! My favourite aspects of living in Singapore include the multicultural working and living environment, a great public transport system and the wonderful variety of food.
Q: Who or what inspired you to be in your field of research?
During the early days of my studies, I’ve always been attracted to the field of energy, the ubiquity of it and the fact that it will always be an essential. Also, I think that the necessity to move towards more sustainable energy sources and usage is one of the most important challenges we face.
At a young age, I was immersed in computers and love programming. Thus, after my initial studies, I started working in a research institute in Germany where I programmed various models for the forecast and integration of renewable energies. In one of the projects, we studied electric cars with a field test and that intensified my interest for electromobility. In TUMCREATE, I am able to combine both aspects of mobility and energy modelling while working on a concrete case-study.
Q: What are some of the challenges for you in your field of research?
In the field of simulation and modelling, access to detailed data from the real-world is one of the main challenges. The data is necessary to improve the models and obtain results that can be accurate and applied outside of a pure academic context.
To give an example, I am simulating the operation of electric buses based on the existing Singapore public bus network. However, the real energy consumption of electric buses in a tropical climate might differ from expectations, like the energy-demand for air-conditioning and local traffic conditions. Since field trials of electric buses have started this year in Singapore, I am eager to discover how my simulation results will compare to real-world measurements and to improve the models based on feedback from the field.
Q: Tell us about your work and journey in TUMCREATE…
I joined TUMCREATE in 2017 as a Research Associate to work on the topic of electrification of public road transport. From my research, I wanted to create a city-scale model of bus electrification. This required me to discover and learn more about the public bus network in Singapore. As mentioned, I was quite impressed by its density and level of service but had only personally experienced a few bus lines before. Through this work, I was able to quickly learn about all the different parts of Singapore’s bus network.
Initially, my study used historical data to calculate the energy demand that would be consumed if the current bus fleets were operated with electric buses. However, historical data has its limitations and I needed to pivot towards an approach based on flexible simulations for future predictions. This brought me to contribute to CityMoS, the city-scale mobility simulator mainly developed by the AIDA team. With the help of fellow colleagues from AIDA and students that I was supervising, I lead the implementation of a full model of electric public bus operation and charging within the simulator. Using it, we can simulate a wide range of electrification scenarios for buses with great level of details.
Q: What are some of your plans in the future?
For the foreseeable future, I would like to have the opportunity to contribute to the development of electromobility in Singapore. I hope to bring the results of my research to the real world and help to facilitate the transition of the current buses to cleaner and more comfortable electric buses. Have you experienced driving an electric vehicle before? It was a game changer for me! I do not have plans for the far future. Life is full of unforeseen surprises and opportunities, so I guess I’ll see where it brings me.
(As usual, we like to end our interviews with a question specially tailored for the interviewee.)
Q: What do you think would be the most surprising scientific discovery imaginable?
The origin of the Universe. Since young, I have been fascinated by astrophysics and for me, one of the most fascinating questions is the existence of the universe. Even though it seems like an unsolvable question, I remain hopeful that we will some day discover what the universe really is and why does it exist. Who knows, maybe a glitch might be revealed and we discover that we actually live in a Matrix. What irony would it be if we were to be part of a simulation!
We can’t wait to see Marc’s research help in facilitating the transition of the current buses in Singapore to electric buses! Special thanks to Marc for sharing his story and his work.