Being a college student at any time is exciting, but living during a global pandemic and a decisive presidential election has made my senior year a truly unique experience. As an environmental engineer, much of my coursework naturally covers environmental policy and regulation (for example, in CE 485 Water Treatment Design, we discuss regulatory agencies and water quality limits; in ENE 215 Energy Systems & the Environment, we analyze legislation and international agreements that impact energy infrastructure and climate change), but this year specifically, there’s been a notable increase in discussing current affairs that has shaped the discourse in many of my courses.
From the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions to the presidential election and how each candidate’s environmental policy will shape the future, each course I am taking has opportunities to discuss how current affairs relate to the topics we are learning. Environmental engineering is a truly unique major that focuses on science and engineering principles, but also environmental issues and regulations; because of this connection, I’ve been able to stay informed with my peers, and have meaningful conversations about the state of our nation.
This education goes beyond the classroom, too. Just this evening, the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists hosted an event with Professor Kelly Sanders, “Trick or Treat: Climate Change and the 2020 Elections”, where Dr. Sanders discussed the key goals of Joe Biden’s climate plan, impacts the Supreme Court has on environmental regulations, and what the Trump administration has done in the energy sector. Casual conversations with professors like these are fascinating opportunities to learn more about the world around me and develop my own beliefs and opinions.
With all this being said, having frequent and meaningful discussions about the importance of environmental policies, regulations, and regulatory agencies has only emphasized to me the importance of having my voice heard. Election day is now a week away, and it’s important that if you’re able, you vote this November! The bubbles we fill in on our ballots have true impacts on the world around us and our future.
Stay safe, vote early, and fight on!