Forty master’s and professional-degree students from nine U-M schools and colleges recently were named Dow Sustainability Fellows. Two students, Nadine Halabi and Yash Shah, come from the Energy Systems Engineering program in the College of Engineering. Both receive a $20,000 stipend and will join a team of three to five other graduate students to focus on interdisciplinary approaches to a broad array of sustainability challenges related to water, energy, transportation, built environment, climate change, food, health, human behavior, and others. Currently, they are in the process of forming teams, defining problems, and writing project proposals.
Nadine and Yash are interested in all areas of sustainability, but their desire to make a difference drives a passion for focusing on the developing world. As Yash points out, this is because even a small project could be life-changing for a community. He knows that firsthand—during his undergraduate studies, Yash worked on a project to convert humidity into 15 liters of drinking water per day using solar power for people without access to pure water in India.
Through their master’s program courses, Nadine and Yash have learned a lot that they can apply to their project work. “As an engineer, I came in with a technical background. The broad range of courses that I’ve taken have helped me see from different angles,” says Nadine. Both students were initially attracted to the Energy Systems Engineering program because of its interdisciplinary nature and have taken courses in finance, policy, sustainability, and engineering as a part of the degree.
Nadine and Yash aspire to tackle big sustainability challenges and see the Dow fellowship program and the Master’s in Energy Systems Engineering as critical to achieving their dreams. Both will graduate in December 2015 and want to continue confronting big sustainability challenges—wherever they are in the world!