Internships: Hasiuk offers sustainability recommendations
Senior civil engineer Ethan Hasiuk spent the summer on campus, as a sustainability intern in Rice’s Administrative Center for Sustainability and Energy Management (ACSEM). He learned about the internship while taking Professor in the Practice Jim Blackburn’s Advanced Sustainable Design class.
“I worked with Richard Johnson, the Center director, on a project to improve approaches to recycling on campus,” he said. “[Fellow intern] Ben Johnson and I sought ways to make the process more streamlined. We looked at best practices from other institutions and wanted to develop ways the campus community could better collaborate on Rice’s recycling challenges.”
Recycling across the Rice campus affects all of the students, faculty and staff who live and work here. But the mechanics of recycling rest largely with the Office of Housing and Dining, and the Facilities, Engineering and Planning department. Hasiuk and Johnson took a broad look at how the campus could be more efficient, and how changes to the campus could affect existing recycling efforts.
“We’re expecting the Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen to expand again, for example,” said Hasiuk. “The potential footprint currently contains our primary landfill and recycling compactors. If the OEDK expands, we will have to find ways to adapt.”
In addition to spatial reconfiguration, Hasiuk said another challenge for campus recycling is the growth of the student population. Rice has more undergraduate and graduate students than it did in 2005, when recycling efforts were first implemented.
“We need to bring everyone into the conversation and get people on board with what recycling means, what people can recycle, where they can do so,” he said.
To help coordinate those efforts, Hasiuk advocated for posters in the college serveries and the BioScience Research Collaborative that clearly designate recyclable and non-recyclable items under Rice’s single-stream system. He and Johnson also presented a report about their findings and recommendations to representatives from Housing and Dining, and Facilities, Engineering and Planning.
Hasiuk wants to pursue a career in transportation engineering, with a focus on public transportation. He said the collaborative aspect of his internship will be an asset to his chosen career, where multiple constituencies have input.
“During the internship, I learned a lot about listening to people,” he said. “It was a chance to find ways to ask the right kinds of questions to learn most about our current system and its capacity for change. We went around campus and shadowed a number of custodians, asking them about their ideas on how things can be improved.”
Although many schools have more staff devoted to solid waste management than Rice does, Hasiuk believes that Rice is doing quite well with its recycling efforts. His findings showed that the University currently recycles around 30 percent of its solid waste by weight. And he thinks that the recommendations he and Johnson offered—including having a second-hand furniture store in Rice Village where old office furniture could be sold—will enhance the University’s reuse and recycling efforts.
“Really, we need to educate people more about why recycling is important,” he said. “And help them feel like they are part of the solution.”