Meena Venkatraman (Engr’20) recently returned from the ESW National Conference. Here is a recap of her impressions.
I was delighted to attend the ESW national conference in El Paso, TX. It was my first time in Texas and the dryness of the surrounding landscape in El Paso was reminiscent of our own landscape surrounding Claremont. Because of the similarities, it was inspiring to hear about what the university was doing about sustainability, especially landscaping in a dry climate.
One of the first talks I attended at the conference was an interdisciplinary panel on sustainability, featuring professors from various departments including geology, economics and philosophy. I had only recently learned about holistic sustainability and the importance of people, planet and profit, so it was exciting to hear everyone talking about that concept outside of class, and outside of Claremont.
I was able to meet with many like-minded students who have similar life goals and motivations to me. Sometimes pursuing an environmental career can seem daunting and maybe even depressing, but meeting with them assured me that there were many people also interested in the same thing. We got to see the many projects that students were doing in their respective chapters, including a solar-powered charging station for a homeless shelter, hydroponics systems for local high schools and a makerspace waste recycling pilot program. Since we are a smaller chapter we don’t do as many projects, but I’m excited that for next year our ESW/MOSS leadership team is already talking about focusing more on project work, including community engagement projects.
Probably my favourite takeaway from the trip was getting closer to the Mudders who came with me. All five of them are freshmen and it was heartwarming to see their passion for sustainability already. I hope they were able to find motivation and inspiration from the conference just like I did. I’m very grateful to the Hixon Center, President’s Office and Engineering Department for continuing to support students who would like to attend this conference, without their funding it would not have been possible. I’m glad that Mudd provides us with the opportunity every year, as it always inspires next year’s ESW/MOSS leadership.