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Pitt to Implement Environmental Sustainability

Pitt to Implement Environmental Sustainability
Program For Engineering Students

Brazilian partnership expected to bring more Hispanics into the field.

Endorsing the concept that engineers should be trained to incorporate environmental sustainability practices in their work, the University of Pittsburgh has created a Sustainable Engineering Fellowship Program, which will begin in fall 2006. Supported by a three-year $506,000 U.S. Department of Education grant, the Mascaro Sustainability Initiative (MSI) in the School of Engineering will administer the interdisciplinary fellowship for Ph.D. engineering students.

“This grant will enable us to engage a diverse and talented group of students to translate the fundamental science of sustainability into real products and processes,” says MSI co-director Gena M. Kovalcik.

Pitt officials say that because of dwindling natural resources, engineers of the 21st century must be conscious of environmental constraints. Students currently have access to some sustainability programs through the work of MSI, but officials say the fellowship program will help enhance those possibilities. For example, next year up to 24 Pitt graduate students will travel to the University at Campinas, in São Paulo, Brazil, to do research in “green” construction and sustainable water use technology. The program is funded by a $3.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation.

“Engineers must understand that the world is a finite place with finite resources, and next generation products and processes must be designed within the framework of this complex system,” says Dr. Eric J. Beckman, the co-director of MSI and the Bayer Professor of Chemical Engineering.

Pitt engineering professors are currently collaborating with their Brazilian counterparts on a project called “Research in Sustainable Community Development.” The project, which focuses on cross-cultural and ethical issues, will support an international workshop to develop a research agenda in the areas of green construction and water. Pitt officials say the relationships with Brazilian institutions are also expected to bring more Hispanic students into the engineering field via partnerships with the University of Texas at El Paso and the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez. 

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