Field Trip!

Madison College Students attend the Sustainability Summit and learn about renewable energy.

From left to right, myself, Holly and Stephanie in from of the Madison College display.  Photo courtesy of Dr. Thomas Tubon.

On March 7th some of my classmates and I were lucky enough to attend the Sustainability Summit and Exposition in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  We wandered the Exposition Hall before the plenary sessions and saw a lot of exciting ideas put into practice.  From bio digesters at UW Oshkosh (who kindly invited our program to take a field trip to their campus to check it out) to electric cars that can run for 40 miles after charging in any wall outlet, to Madison College’s own CERET (Career Education in Renewable Energy Technology) display, it was exhilarating to imagine what our future could hold.

And then the plenary sessions…


Hello, can we say star struck?

That gentleman on the left is Dr. James Hanson, Director of the NASA Institute for Space Studies at Columbia University.  He spoke about getting youth involved in science in order to “close the knowledge gap between what scientists understand and what the public knows”  about climate change and our impact on our environment.  I was struck by both the large and small scales on which this gentleman strives to make a difference.  From flying across the world to meet with other scientists, to planting milkweed in his backyard with his grandchildren to replenish the habitat of the monarch butterfly, his passion for this subject permeates every part of his life.  His website is here:


We also heard from Dr. Lynn Broaddus of The Johnson Foundation at Wingspread.  She gave amazing information on the energy and useful products we could be recovering from our (ahem) wastewater.  Who knew that urine can provide phosphorus and nitrogen for use as fertilizer?  Or that the Vancouver Olympic Village gets 70% of its heating needs from sewage recovery?  The water leaving our homes is so much warmer than groundwater, they can actually extract the heat from the water we flush and use it to heat buildings!  Her link is here:


Next, we heard from Will Allen, CEO of Growing Power and a MacArthur Fellow.  He works to eliminate “food deserts” – areas with little or no access to fresh foods due to urban locations lacking grocery stores or markets.  They also work to involve the community in urban gardening projects.  This link to Growing Power’s website shows an interview with Mr. Allen explaining his fish and food farming in urban areas:


And speaking of field trips, in Bioprocessing we just learned we’ll be visiting a microbrewery to learn more about industrial fermentation!  Though the news that no samples are to be partaken of on class time was met with groans of disappointment, we’re all looking forward to seeing real world applications of what we’ve been learning about.


In more personal news, yesterday I interviewed for an internship at a company that generously said I could share the experience here.  I’ll hear back early next week, so I’ll write more about it after I know if I received the position or not, but either way, I’m very excited to have been considered.  One cringe worthy moment:  When asked what my goals were and where I see myself winding up, I nervously blurted out “I don’t know.”  (Cue internal facepalm.)

I honestly don’t know why that came out of my mouth.  My goal, of course, is to work for that particular company.  They’ve been number one on my list of dream employers since I learned of their existence.  They’ve got a phenomenal reputation in the community of being very good to their employees and their science is just ridiculously exciting.  And I totally practiced saying things along those very lines for two days before the interview.  If anyone would like to know how my foot tastes, I can now offer an informed opinion.

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