Empowering a new generation of engineers, the University of Georgia (UGA) and its College of Engineering is making a major impact on the crisis of plastic pollution through a range of proactive programmes and research.
Since the release of the latest IPCC report, Global Warming of 1.5°C, an increasing number of students are choosing degrees that benefit the global environment while boosting their employability.
Understanding that 21st century engineers require more than just technical knowledge, UGA equips students with an understanding of the social and economic impact of their work, the ability to communicate their ideas to a range of people and the skills to provide leadership in solving society’s grand challenges.
It’s no surprise that Georgia’s College of Engineering courses are accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), and that 94 percent of UGA graduates find employment within six months of graduating.
A learning climate like no other
To address the pressing issues of plastic pollution, the college has established a learning climate like no other.
With student-centric classrooms equipped with innovative learning tools, the college’s experiential style offers students hands-on lectures, faculty-mentored research opportunities and exposure to internship and leadership initiatives – everything you need to design extraordinary engineering solutions.
Solving today’s challenges requires teamwork across all disciplines and fields of engineering. The UGA College of Engineering offers five MS programmes: Agricultural Engineering, Biochemical Engineering, Biological Engineering, Engineering, and Environmental Engineering. In addition, students can choose to specialize further in the MS Engineering programme with an emphasis in Civil Engineering, Electrical and Computer Systems Engineering, or Mechanical Engineering.
These programmes offer students a rigorous, adaptive curriculum and research environment that prepares them to integrate discoveries from multiple fields and address multi-scale problems beyond the bounds of traditional engineering disciplines. UGA’s MS programme also provides students the opportunity for either broad or focused training in science and engineering with coursework and thesis research oriented to solving complex problems that may transcend engineering disciplines or fields.
In UGA’s Ph.D. programme, students initiate and drive cutting-edge research that positions them to be new leaders in the advancement of their field and for success in a range of careers in industry, government or academe.
The PhD in Engineering provides maximum flexibility for students and faculty to address 21st century engineering problems. Emphasis Areas within the Ph.D. in Engineering degree as well as the Ph.D. in Biological and Agricultural Engineering degree enable students to focus in either a specific disciplinary specialty or interdisciplinary area.
To complement the UGA engineering experience, the New Materials Institute (NMI) is redesigning products based on Green Engineering principles, aiming to reduce waste by using fully biodegradable, bio-based materials. They’re also redesigning systems focused on proactive materials management, also known as circular materials management.
By connecting tomorrow’s engineers to today’s life-changing projects and integrative, collaborative research, the institute strives for sustainability and hopes to enjoy a future of cleaner oceans and healthier environments.
With an inspirational institute such as this on their doorstep, it’s easy to see why students are fixated on the regular successes of the UGA College of Engineering.
Where change-makers are the future
To showcase the continuous productivity of the UGA College of Engineering and its dedication to eradicating plastic pollution, here’s a small selection of UGA’s many change-makers:
Known in and beyond the UGA student community for transforming trash into treasure, Dr. Jenna Jambeck is often recognised for her research on plastic waste in the ocean and for the Marine Debris Tracker app she co-created.
Recently, she examined the impact of China’s ban on plastic waste imports and concluded that without bold new ideas and system-wide changes, even relatively low current recycling rates would no longer be met.
That’s why she’s committed to student-led innovation and real-world change. For example, one of her graduate students, Katherine Shayne, was recently selected to attend the exclusive Our Ocean Youth Leadership Summit due to her remarkable research and is working on a social media app named Can I Recycle This, which provides an instant response to users who want to know if an item is recyclable!
After receiving a Fulbright US Student Program award in Environmental Engineering, UGA graduate Jennie Mathis Alexander has been selected to conduct research at Vietnam National University.
As she states, “I’m committed to and passionate about waste management research on a global scale and I enjoy working in an academic environment and helping students with their challenges. I understand where they’re coming from and what they’re going through to get an engineering degree.”
With a passion for protecting our oceans and natural landscapes against plastic pollution, Jennie has a bright future ahead of her after graduating from the UGA College of Engineering.
Treating sustainability as a necessity, Locklin enables UGA learners and NMI members to reevaluate their recycling habits and craft eco-friendly systems.
While discussing NMI, Locklin explains that “We want to be a resource for people who have new technologies and we want to be a resource for people who are passionate about eliminating persistent materials in the environment.”
That’s why they were the first to test the world’s first fully biodegradable plastic straw, also hosting an impressive information summit to build stronger connections with the local innovation ecosystem and diversify the regional economy.
So, if you want to collaborate with the UGA College of Engineering and you’re ready to evolve into a productive changemaker, click here for further information and maybe one day soon, your name will also be featured on the list above!