Pil Purup: Innovativ Ph.D. candidate with strong creative urges

Selfie of a young woman. Pil Brix Purup (PIBP)

In her time off, Pil Purup is an accomplished ballet dancer and a hard-hitting taekwondo fighter. At work, as a Ph.D. candidate at Aarhus University and an engineer at NIRAS, she gets fired up by indoor climate and energy consumption. But she never just focuses on those two things.

Since learning to paint, draw, and sew, Pil has had strong creative urges. She wants to shape innovative solutions that improve the way things are being done. The best way to do this is when being allowed to collaborate with people with other professional skills than her own. Her biggest inspiration is the architect Antoni Gaudi, as he had that particular skill of combining his eye for architecture with the technical insight of the engineer.

Pil Purup works as an engineer in the NIRAS offices in Aarhus, where she was hired after graduating from Aarhus University in 2014. She is concurrently working on her Ph.D. thesis about how construction projects can take advantage from including energy and indoor climate calculation already from the early draft stages. Many will only do those calculations at later project stages, but Pil Purup wants to change this, since significant gains can be realised.

What is it about the engineering business that attracts you?

I like the fact that there is a lot of collaboration with professional colleagues, but also with other disciplines, such as architects. It is stimulating that you often have to think creatively about your professional skills and try to develop the way usually do things. I am enthusiastic about optimising the solutions that we already have.

What is most important to you when working on a project?

I like the inter-disciplinary thinking processes. I would not necessarily think that I have done my job well if energy consumption is reduced and the indoor climate is good but it happened at the cost of a solution that does not hang together well with other aspects of the building, such as logistics and aesthetics. I was involved in a project at a school where we designed windows that improved the indoor climate and reduced energy consumption, and at the same time the window ledges were designed in a way that allowed them to actively used in the teaching setting as seating areas for deeper thinking. That way, everything contributed to a greater whole because of inter-disciplinary thinking.

Who is your greatest inspiration?

My inspirations are people like Gaudi, Da Vinci, and Calatrava. What makes them cool is that they are multidisciplinary people who combine things. Gaudi, for example, did architecture in a very experimental way, but much of what he did was actually engineering science. He has created some fantastic structures at the Sagrada Familia church in Barcelona. They called him mad in architecture school, but today he is world famous. I am immensely fascinated by his innovative way of creating solutions.

What do you do in your time off?

In my spare time, I do ballet and taekwondo, and I am a black belt. I have chosen those activities on the basis that they are not just physically challenging, but very much mentally, too. There is a lot of coordination involved in hand and foot placement. In ballet, you even have to follow a rhythm, as it is done to music. I often manage to forget just how difficult it is, because so much of it is a mental effort. I am also girl scout leader for a group of young scouts from 3rd and 4th grade. I frequently handle the creative side of things, and we play and do theatre. Most recently, my scouts and me built a space rocket and did a landing on the Moon.