I recently attended the 2013 Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors (AEESP) conference. It was held in Golden, CO, and was hosted by the Colorado School of Mines. The conference is held every two years and brings together professors and graduate students from environmental engineering and science departments across the US. The overall feel is quite relaxed, as many of those attending have developed strong familial bonds over the years.
On the first day, there were optional morning and afternoon workshops, and on the second and third days there were oral and poster presentation sessions. I attended the Graduate Ethics Education workshop which was given by Marc Edwards and Yanna Lambrinidou from Virginia Tech. The course they developed focuses on the wrongdoing and unethical behavior on the part of government agencies in the historic 2001-2004 Washington, DC lead-in-drinking-water contamination case. One of the major takeaways from this workshop are course modules that will be available online for use in designing of environmental ethics courses at other institutions. I am very intrigued by this opportunity as Onondaga County’s history of unjust decision making in their stormwater management plans could be a strong case study for a similar ethics course at Syracuse University.
During the opening presentation on Monday, I was very excited to hear Dr. Glen Daigger from CH2MHill discuss the importance of using social and business science methods such as the diffusion of innovations in order to understands the role that new technologies are playing in our societies and how we are interacting with them. Dr. Richard Luthy of Stanford reiterated these points at the lunch talk as he discussed the need for change in the future of environmental engineering.
These themes tied in well with my presentation entitled “Green Infrastructure in Onondaga County: A Case Study in the Diffusion of Sustainable Stormwater Management Technologies.” This was a part of an all day session on watershed management. There were several strong presentations on the growing depth of green infrastructure research, such as a talk by Mira Olson of Drexel on monitoring the physical and chemical flows through urban bioretention facilities, and one by Sonya Lopez of the CO School of Mines on high resolution hydrologic modeling methods for urban watersheds. My colleague Mallory Squier also presented a poster entitled “Evapotranspiration and the green roof water budget” that showcased the experimental set up on the OnCenter green roof in downtown Syracuse.
The conference was a wonderful opportunity to connect with research groups that I would never have had the opportunity to otherwise, since many of the groups were outside of my immediate field of research. It is only held every two years, but I am already looking forwarded to the 2015 conference. By then I will likely have a stronger networking incentive to explore possible research and teaching job opportunities at other colleges and universities. I’d also love to make it back to Colorado sometime to do some more exploring!