Currently, I am entering my fifth year at the Colorado School of Mines, pursuing a major in mechanical engineering with minors in energy and public affairs. Having been born in Edmonds, Wash., I was quite shaken by the move to Colorado. The air is so much thinner, the flora is so much drier, and the people are so much more…outdoorsy. Beer is a really big thing here. Oceans are not. Even the Coloradan flag is more cheerful than its Washingtonian peer. Regardless, I found my place in Colorado riding bikes, researching fuel cells, leading Mines Sustainability, and camping in the Rocky Mountains whenever possible.
Since that first jarring transition, I have gone on to bike across the Rockies twice, work as an intern for Senator Chris Hanson at the Colorado State Capitol, play piano on KUVO in Denver, and begin working on the techno-economic analysis of methane synthesis using proton-conducting electrolyzer cells. All the while, I also developed my appreciation for environmentally conscious and human-centered engineering.
During my first year at Mines, I developed a fascination with the interactions between people, their built environment, and the natural environment. But, as a first-year student, I sat through classes where proficiency and cunning were proven through a talent with numbers and the ability to solve unfamiliar technical problems. There was rarely any consideration for how these numbers on the page translated to environmental or human health beyond. But, it was these nagging questions — “Where does the exhaust go?,” “What happens when nitrogen levels are this high?” — that got me interested in human-centered design and energy engineering. And, this passion and curiosity are precisely what brought me to McKinstry.
My prior internship experiences, experimental fuel cell research and policy research at the Colorado State Capitol, have both given me a taste of academia and policy. But, prior to this summer, I still lacked any substantive experience in industry. Thus, I knew that I wanted to work in industry this summer. Furthermore, I aspire to become an elected official one day. And, during my time in politics, I noticed that one of the greatest shortcomings of our current elected officials is their lack of tangible knowledge regarding how sustainability is realized in a modern capitalist society. These officials do not understand what it takes to carry out a $4.5 billion lighting retrofit, nor do they understand what financing mechanisms tip solar from being economically favorable to being a waste of time and resources. Fearing I would also succumb to such blissful ignorance, I was further motivated to pursue an internship in industry.
Earlier this year, I had many ideas for who I’d like to work for this summer: Stantec, HDR, Siemens. But, in the back of my mind, I always knew that my dream would be to end up at McKinstry. From McKinstry’s powerED campaign at Mines, I picked up on the dedication to upgrading facilities whilst also encouraging cultures to be more sustainable. Between powerED’s Shut the Sash campaign to its People.Power.Planet pledge page, I fell in love with McKinstry’s holistic approach to sustainability. And from there, I realized that McKinstry was exactly where I needed to be. No place combined my desire to experience industry and champion sustainability more wholly than McKinstry.