Eileen Stachowski '12
Some people dream of fame. Others have aspirations of becoming a CEO. But practicing humanitarian-related engineering and teaching sustainable agriculture to people in developing countries? That dream might just be unique to environmental engineering major Eileen Stachowski ’12.
It’s safe to say that she is already well on her way to making her dream a reality. From bringing clean water solutions to a village in Ecuador, to working with professors on sustainability research projects, to educating New York state’s K-12 teachers on how to teach climate change, Eileen is on the right path.
“Even though I believe the experiences I’ve had at Clarkson would allow me to do anything I desire, I want to use the knowledge and skills I have to help people around the world,” she says. “Environmental engineering goes hand-in-hand with my personal drive to protect the world in which we live, as well as those who inhabit it.”
Eileen’s first step was joining Engineers Without Borders (EWB), an international organization and student-run SPEED (Student Projects in Engineering Experience & Design) team at Clarkson. Through EWB, she and her team members are developing sustainable engineering solutions for the citizens of La Margarita, a small village in Ecuador. In 2009, she traveled to La Margarita with her team and faculty advisor Shane Rogers (professor of environmental engineering) to teach the community of 250 people about clay pot filtration devices created by Clarkson students in civil and environmental engineering courses.
“La Margarita is located on a polluted river, which is often used for drinking water,” she explains. “We took some prototypes down to the village to show the people and see what they thought about using them to filter their water. Overall, it was an amazing experience both for the community and for us, not to mention, a great stepping stone for me personally.”
Back on campus, Eileen has worked extensively with Susan Powers, professor of civil engineering and associate director of sustainability for the Institute for a Sustainable Environment.
“Over the summer, I helped Dr. Powers develop a climate change curriculum for K-12 education that was funded by NASA. It was a great experience because I got to learn how to convey my technical background to a more general, and younger, audience,” she says.
At the end of the summer, Clarkson hosted a two-week institute, the Project-Based Global Climate Change Education Curriculum Development workshop, for teachers around New York state to learn about the tools and climate change projects that Eileen and Dr. Powers developed for K-12 classrooms.
On the greenhouse gas inventory project, Eileen researched Clarkson’s own emissions so that she could get a better idea of how the Clarkson community could reduce its impact on the environment. On the same page, she is also active in the Environmental Conservation Organization (ECO), where she and her peers focused on making environmentally friendly changes to Clarkson’s campus and informing others about the importance of sustainability.
Continuing to work with Prof. Powers, Eileen is focusing on her upcoming senior design project, where she will help build a prototype model of a Controlled Environment High Rise Farm (CEHRF) that was originally designed by a group of students who won a P3 Award from the Environmental Protection Agency in 2010.
“The greenhouse is meant to enable cold climates to grow food year round through the use of aeroponics, or growing food without soil. It’s a great opportunity for me to get more hands-on experience in many different fields of engineering, not just environmental. It will be a great finish to my time at Clarkson.”