Friday, September 22, 2023
Dedicated students, distinguished colleagues and dear friends,
Regardless of our philosophical and ideological perspectives, the meteorological data indicate the warming of planet Earth with devastating consequences. The argument goes that human-made emissions in the atmosphere are trapping and slowing heat loss to space, and of the top five key greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide is the most damaging anthropogenic greenhouse gas as it accounts for the greatest portion of the warming associated with human activities.
In fact, this week at the opening of the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly, the agenda highlighted the urgent need to put new emphasis on the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals, several of which are directly linked to greenhouse gases related to burning of fossil fuels.
Here at S&T, as the demand for environmentally focused education rises, our faculty and research centers respond. We established Missouri’s first environmental engineering degree program two decades ago. More recently, a bachelor’s degree in environmental science and a master’s degree in water science and engineering were established to address the growing interest.
Other programs, including civil engineering, electrical engineering, geology and geophysics, geological engineering, and mining engineering, offer specialized degrees related to sustainability.
At our Center for Research in Energy and Environment (CREE), environmental technologies and deployment related to energy come together to address sustainability challenges. CREE’s energy research focuses on students and faculty solving issues related to environmental and economic sustainability, while CREE’s environmental research blends biological and physical systems involving emerging contaminants in natural and engineered systems.
S&T is also home to solar-powered houses designed and built entirely by S&T students for international Solar Decathlon competitions. The houses are located on campus, in the Solar Village and EcoVillage, and serve as a literal living laboratory where students actually live in the grid-independent homes. Both villages are equipped with solar-based microgrids used to demonstrate the viability of alternative energy sources.
Faculty are focused on a wide range of areas in their research, from using local materials to replace traditional cement materials in construction to capturing greenhouse gases and converting them to rock to developing technologies to help the U.S. increase its supply of critical minerals that are necessary for a transition to clean energy. Other projects include reducing mining pollution and improving geothermal energy to studying sustainable aviation fuels and reducing fossil fuels in manufacturing.
Earth-friendly topics our undergraduate students recently tackled for research projects range from the potential of aerogels for carbon capture to biodiesel research and biogas production from industrial wastewater to using plants to remove pollutants from the ground.
Oh by the way, nearly 60% of our campus buildings are heated by nearly 800 geothermal wells, with more wells coming as we expand our geothermal system to the Arrival District buildings and Missouri Protoplex.
While the world may not be where it needs to be in achieving the globally agreed-upon Sustainable Development Goals, here at S&T, we are contributing critically to the global critical challenge of sustainability in tangible, meaningful ways. We have come a long way and aspire to go further to help address this modern world challenge of increasing importance.
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