2nd Year Mechanical Engineering, International Plan Certificate
Currently studying abroad at Charles III University of Madrid
How did you first become interested in sustainability?
I first became interested in sustainability in high school when I read “Hot, Flat, and Crowded,” a book that I didn't like at first. But after I finished the book I realized the author had many good points. That was the first time I was ever exposed to facts about how much harm fossil fuels and carbon do to the Earth, how easy it is to fix our ways, and how stubborn people can be in not willing to fix them.
Tell me about your first position working in the sustainability field?
The company was called MASE, Modern Arabia for Solar Energy, located in Amman, Jordan in the Middle East. I figured this internship would be a good opportunity to intern because not only would I gain work experience but I would also experience living in another country. I was specifically interested in this company’s solar energy because I knew I wanted to specialize in clean energy and I know that in warmer climate countries solar energy is used more effectively because of the strength of the sun in those regions. That’s what brought me to solar energy in the Middle East.
What kind of work were you exposed to and what did you find most fascinating?
I was mainly a research intern researching the efficiency of batteries for use during the winter months. I was also able to shadow people on site measuring and laying the solar panels, gaining experience in electrical engineering. I was also exposed to the design side and was able to provide input. We went to one client site, a hotel interested in installing solar panels, and I was responsible for the drawings of potential sites the solar panels would be placed on the roof. I then went back to work where I used an app, SketchUp, to actually implement the design. I was surprised by how easy it is to harvest energy from the sun and how much energy can be retrieved. I never thought it would be possible to fully function our power needs solely from the sun. I also did not know how much effort went into the angles and placements of the solar panels.
Are sustainable approaches abroad different from the United States?
Yes, definitely. Solar energy is much more popular in the warmer climates. In that case they are more sustainable, but in general I find that from what I have seen of southern Europe and other parts of the Middle East they are not as environmentally cautious as people are in the States. But, I do think as a general rule in the States we are less sustainable because the U.S is much more widespread and many more people rely on cars, whereas in Europe there is more use of public transport which is fuel-free and environmentally friendly. There is more walking so less car use. There seems to be less mass production which reduce the amount of carbon emissions which are results from mass consumption.
What do you think U.S. sustainable companies can adopt from MASE?
The company I worked at was very small with only about 30 employees. I was shocked by how a small company could make such a big impact on the country. It doesn’t that many people to make a significant difference as far as clean energy goes.
How do you plan to incorporate sustainability into your future work and education plans?
Ultimately I’d like to become an entrepreneur. Even if I don’t get involved with renewable energy I want my company to be environmentally sustainable, and it’s a motto I want to promote for other companies as well.