By Kristen J.
Engineering for Social Change was an enlightening course this semester. It started with Dr. Grimm bringing up hard discussions of homelessness and how we as individuals could help. What is the best way to help someone in that position? Money? Food? We came to the conclusion as a class that we don’t know the best way to help homeless people as an individual but that we might be able to make change as a group. This is because of the complexity of every individual situation; one solution maybe appropriate for one person but not for another. To put every homeless person in a box and try and fix a problem is only going to make the problem worse. This idea can be translated into other areas of problem solving. And it makes you consider, are you actually helping the problem or making it worse? Waste is a good example because there are so many ways in which we dispose of waste that could be handled better. Landfills for instant are abundant here in the United States, but smaller countries like Sweden have no land free to dispose of trash in such a way. Is our solution the best solution? Or are we just taking advantage of the mass amount of land that we have? Or when we talk about electronic waste, it gets very complicated because recycling a lot of electronics become highly toxic tasks that only the lowest level of workers would accomplish. The US exports the majority of electronic waste, making it other countries responsibility. As an engineer, I want to make the world a better place, I want to see the world free of poverty, food insecurities, and given access to clean water. The challenge is how can I make that happen? It becomes my responsibility as an engineer to protect the health of individuals around the world. As climate change is growing I would love to use some of my knowledge to stop or possible reverse humans effect on the Earth. I would love to see everyone driving electric cars and making sustainable choices from their clothes to their meals. As an engineer I can make this a reality by awareness and education. A lot of times we forget what is important when we are trying to be the best and being on this earth and creating a healthy environment for my children and my children’s children would make me happy. This class was exciting because it brought to light a lot of fears and insecurities I already had, while also exploring strange and interesting engineering solutions and sometimes pitfalls. It was different than any other class I have taken during my engineering education. Dr. Anand brought this course to life and you can tell that he wants this course to be successful because of the number of amazing guest speakers we had. From 3D printing food to algorithms on social media to the Flint, Michigan water crisis we were subjected to a wide range of topics and interests. Every class there was always something new and interesting to learn about. I loved this class because it was so different from my every day engineering classes and it made me feel like I, as an individual, can make a change for the better for all of our future. I think when there are so many things going wrong in the world you forget that you matter and that your choices can make a difference, but this class reminded me that we are all important because we can make a difference. At the beginning of the class we were asked to introduce ourselves and why we
decided to take the class. I joked then that I was here because I wanted the change the world. I know now that I want to change the world and I hope the things I learned this semester will travel with me wherever my career takes me. Thank you Dr. Anand, Professor Sanchez and Professor Hazelwood for an amazing semester.