Engineers for a Sustainable World works to make a difference on campus

The Spectrum

Smoothies, robots and snowball fights: Engineers for a Sustainable World (ESW) relies on these unconventional tools in their work to create a more environmentally friendly atmosphere on campus.

ESW is a Student Association project-based club with about 50 active members. The club aims to promote sustainability through "enjoyable" projects, and members hope to recruit new people to join their team, regardless of their engineering experience.

Alyssa Hubert, a senior biomedical engineer major and the president of ESW, got involved with the club during her sophomore year while volunteering at the ESW National Conference. Hearing the speakers at this event motivated her to take on a larger role in the club. She now runs executive board meetings and is currently working to send 19 people to the next ESW National Conference.

ESW gives students the opportunity to get directly involved in sustainability projects, which are open to the public.

Connor Brown, a sophomore mechanical engineering major and the treasurer of ESW, got involved with the club during his freshman year when an e-board member came to his class to give a presentation.

He initially attended the group's general meetings. He learned about "Battle Bots," a robot-making competition between the engineering clubs on campus, and "Solar Smoothies," which are sustainable smoothie carts, according to ESW's website.

Members of the club attach a solar panel above the cart that powers the blenders to make smoothies and hot chocolate. They sell the "sustainably made treats" to members of the UB community. The club's most recent cart was featured in the Solar Kiosk competition as part of a SunEdison/MEMC grant.

Brown went from listening to stories about the solar smoothies and battle bots to actually being involved in the projects and becoming an active participant in fundraising for the club. He also enjoys the club's social activities.

"I joined many clubs freshman year and stuck with ESW because of how great the members are," Brown said. "I have made many great friends through ESW. The social events are great and include ice skating, going to Sky Zone, as well as many other great activities."

The ESW annual Winter Camping event at Allegany State Park is a favorite activity among members. The trip involves camping, hiking and snowball fights.

When they're not creating smoothies with solar power or going on camping trips, ESW tackles other environmental projects.

Connor Devine, a sophomore mechanical engineering major and advertising outreach coordinator of ESW, leads the Pedal Power project, which aims to sustainably create light.

Pedal Power involves hooking a bike up to a motor and pedaling to produce enough power to light up three light bulbs. ESW is working on an application to show just how much power the bike produces. The bikes are on display at the Buffalo Museum of Science.

Cassy Edwards, a senior environmental engineer major, has been a member of ESW for 2.5 years.

Edwards began working on ESW's Sustainable Hand Dryer Research Project in the fall of 2012. Through her work with the project, she has gained experience in grant writing and project presentations.

With their hand dryer project, ESW participated in the New York State Pollution Prevention Institute competition and presented at UB's Celebration of Student Academic Excellence. Edwards is currently the co-leader of the project.

Although knowledge of engineering is important for some ESW projects, there are other events and activities in which all students can actively participate. The club grows plants indoors for the Hydroponics Project and hopes to be able to put them in the campus garden that UB Green is working on near Greiner Hall.

The Education Outreach Project is an opportunity for members in the group to visit elementary schools and teach students about sustainability. Members hope "exposing students to environmental issues at a young age will influence them to create a better future," according to ESW's website. The club shows elementary students videos and presents on the club's projects.

Devine said ESW has done more for him as a college student than any other co-curricular activity.

He formed relationships with faculty members and now has experience as both a leader and a team player after working with other engineers to complete sustainability projects on campus.

"I felt like I was a part of something bigger and I had many new friends to share it with," Devine said. "ESW will always be a big part of who I am."