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Dan McKinley

Dan McKinley is a Mechanical Engineering Major and the President of Engineers for a Sustainable World.

What does sustainability mean to you?

Working together to maintain and improve the quality of life that we’ve established. No matter how much damage we inflict on the environment, our planet will outlive us. The question is, how long will our planet exist in a form that we can maintain our quality of life? Rising sea levels and accelerated climate change (two issues that undoubtedly inflict harm upon the environment) ultimately serve to make Earth less habitable to ourselves. In order to abate and repair the damage done, a mode of thinking and action needs to be adopted that considers the effects we have on our planet—this mode of thinking is sustainability.

What are you doing to help UB become more sustainable?

I lead UB’s Chapter of Engineers for a Sustainable World, a student club that works to educate both our university and the surrounding community on the benefits of sustainable engineering and sustainable practices. We work on several ‘green’ projects, which include our solar smoothie cart and our hydroponics project. We’re also working with UB facilities to study the impacts and potential benefits of removing paper towels from campus. Outside of my involvement with ESW, I promote sustainability by yelling at strangers if they don’t recycle.

How do you involve UB’s faculty or staff in your sustainability work?

I’ve worked with Dr. James Jensen, as he is ESW’s faculty adviser. He helps to promote our presence throughout UB, and helps us find research opportunities. Last year, I worked with him and several other ESW members to conduct a study on the effects and possible re-use of a waste effluent produced by UB’s composting process.

How has sustainability impacted your academic pursuits?  

It really shaped the direction I want to take my studies once I graduate from UB. I’ve applied for several sustainable themed graduate engineering programs, and I hope to eventually enter the field of sustainable energy generation. I never really saw myself pursuing this subject when I entered UB, but now I couldn’t be more sure that it is an area to which I want to dedicate my career to. Besides my post-UB studies, I’ve tried to specialized within Mechanical Engineering in the area of sustainability - I’m currently engaged in two senior level engineering capstone type courses both of which concern developing renewable energy platforms.

What is the one thing you would like people to know that you do in your personal life to further sustainability?

Think before you throw something out. I’ve had the opportunity to visit the recycling sorting plant that services UB, and it is amazing the number of items that we recycle here. It further amazes me that so many people at our school choose not to recycle. I always take half a second to stop and think before I chuck something in the trash, and I think it’s worth it.

How could UB improve its sustainability efforts?

The following thoughts jump to my mind:

●       Bring back the NFTA stickers - these were very cool last year, I’d love to seem them come back in greater force. It’d be nice to have less restrictions on who can get them, and it’d be even better if they worked on the buses as well.

●       Implement more post-consumer composting - We have a great pre-consumer composting program at UB, and I think it should continue to be expanded. The efforts to collect from on campus dining locations are awesome, but it would be great to see more opportunities to do post-consumer composting.

●       Keep looking into sources of renewable energy. The Solar Strand is a fantastic addition to our campus, and I couldn’t be happier that I was able to witness its construction and opening. I’d love to see UB continue to explore additional sources of alternative power; the UCSD campus has a sweet fuel cell that is powered by excess gasses from the city of San Diego’s wastewater processing plant, maybe the technology would transfer  (hint hint). So cool.

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