Great minds think alike—but when they think differently, they can approach problems with a new level of understanding and insight. That’s the idea behind a project in which students from different disciplines and courses work in teams to research and report on an environmental topic of current and/or local concern.
Anthropology and sociology major Sidney Pahmer ’15 (Ridgefield, Conn.) and psychology major Brianna Braswell ’16 (Germantown, Md.) teamed up with civil engineering major Xiomara Rojas-Asqui ’16 (Washington, D.C.) to study e-waste and its implications on Lafayette’s campus.
“In a generation fixated on owning the newest technology available and the frequent iPhone upgrades, understanding our community’s awareness of the issue is a main concern,” Rojas-Asqui says.
They used an anonymous survey to gain insight into what their Lafayette peers know about e-waste and proper disposal of an iPhone. As a result of their findings, the team recommends public information campaigns to help educate people about e-waste.
“Interestingly enough even though this is a growing issue, many people are not aware of it. If they are conscious of it, they have expressed not knowing how to dispose of it properly,” Braswell says.
Civil engineering majors Allison Zeoli ’14 (Wallingford, Conn.) and Carly Hatch ’14 (Nashua, N.H.) teamed with environmental science major Mariuxi Vera ’17 (Brooklyn, N.Y.) to study stream bank restoration along the Bushkill Creek in Easton. Their objective was to visually assess and document restoration needs along a section of the creek.
“Working on a project that has real community value is always exciting,” says Zeoli. “There is a lot of potential future work that can be done with our findings. I’m also really interested in sustainability and it always interests me to see the additional economic and social advantages associated with implemented environmental benefits.”
Chemical engineering majors Justin Horn ’15 (New Providence, N.J.) and Chris Verni ’15 (Medway, Mass.) and civil engineering major Keven Lugo ’16 (Jacksonville, Fla.) worked on a project to encourage Hispanic and black students in elementary and high school to study engineering, as these minority groups are traditionally underrepresented in the field.
They used a day camp called Summer Engineering Experience for Kids as a case study and found that at the end of the three weeks, more than 80 percent of the students were more interested in engineering.
Participating classes included Environmental Biology, taught by Nancy Waters, associate professor of biology; Environmental Engineering and Science, taught by Art Kney, associate professor and head of civil and environmental engineering; Alternative Energy Sources, taught by Javad Tavakoli, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering; and Intro to the Environment, taught by Rachel Brummel, assistant professor of environmental studies.