My sustainability capstone was a learning experience for not only me, but for the sustainability dual major itself. When entering this course, the goal set forth was to incorporate sustainability principles and research approaches into my already existing engineering capstone. There were parts of this that ran smoothly and parts that were tougher to navigate. In terms of team building, it was tough to learn the ins and outs of working in a multidisciplinary team when none of my team members were also in SUST 750. The class structure, thanks to the teaching styles of Vanessa, still brought that essence of collaboration in engaging class activities.
It was helpful to look logistically at research report style writing associated with guided sustainability research. My research on algae power was more technical than most of the research projects my peers were working on. Being able to have non-engineers proofread my papers was very helpful to bring to light areas that may only be clear to people with different educational backgrounds. I have attached a microscopic image we took of the algae we used in our experimentation.
This class lead me to think about my research from a social, economic and environmental sustainability standpoint and bring that into my synthesis of knowledge gained. My SDM experience has continued to affect my perspective on everything I learn or do in my engineering coursework. Aside from the capstone project itself, I loved how SUST 750 had us reflect on our experience in the sustainability dual major. Having us not only think about our own classes in sustainability, but also learning from the unique experiences of our peers helped me appreciate how diverse and special the SDM is and how it impacts everyone’s perspective differently.
After the COVID-19 pandemic shortened our time with algae in the lab, experimentation was cut short. Our project turned to more theoretical feasibility of small-scale algae farming practices. This led my sustainability report to transition to a research paper on the social, economic and environmental impact of algae farming. This shifted my report to a more individual paper which lost some of the collaboration element of SUST 750. Although that is upsetting, I still think the university can build a stronger foundation for a dual capstone in a future that isn’t riddled in pandemic.