Contributing to Sustainability as a Student

Find out why Olivia chose to study Circular Engineering at Montanuniversität Leoben, what contributions she wants to make as a future engineer and how she tries to live “sustainably” whilst being a student.

I have always been someone who wants to “take a peek” into every aspect of life, whether it be trying out all possible types of sports, taking internships at banks, construction companies, oil companies, chemical companies or working a shift job in metallurgy; I was driven to try it all.

Coming from an international school, which also happened to be the first eco-school in Austria, all I knew was that I wanted to study something in relation to STEM (or in German “MINT” ). I ended up studying Petroleum Engineering for four semesters but decided that my true interests were in understanding the entire industry. I wanted to make an impact within a different field. As the new programme was announced, I was very excited; it
consisted of everything I wanted: sustainability, variety, and choice. I didn’t feel like I had to mold my very broad interests into one specific degree, I could learn more about the entirety of the industry, experience multiple fields via internships and be driven to the one I wanted to make the biggest impact.

As a future engineer I would like to not only contribute to the research but also widen peoples understanding of the known, yet often overlooked damages we are making on our environment. We as a community are very lucky to have access to so much, whether its literature or resources, but tend to hide from the “behind the scenes” or grasp onto easy fixes. I think people would be surprised by how much of an ecological footprint we leave behind during our daily lives.

Sustainability and Industry

With the development of e-fuels and renewable energy sources a global collaborationn would be necessary, therefore, ambitiously, I do hope that we all work together towards ourcommon goals.

In regards to innovation within the industry; all the subsections of the lifecycle of a product need to be considered. Each step needs to be continuously assessed, analyzed and optimized. The challenges of a energy transition and finding technical solutions is not only the limited amount of resources and lack of suitable infrastructure, but also the lack of policies supporting the initiation of decentralized energy systems.


Sustainability and Student Life

I think being a student it’s not always the easiest to find sustainable choices whilst trying to live on a slim budget, but I do think I am working on it. Easy things I do to contribute are: separating trash, minimizing my online shopping tendencies, using reusable products, filling up the washing machine to the absolute brim, researching about local brands and minimizing my activity on video streaming services.

Transitioning into a more sustainable lifestyle takes time, and small steps. The pressure of becoming fully zero-waste, living a minimalistic lifestyle, becoming vegan one day to another and flipping your world upside down is not sustainable. I think it takes a lot more. It takes long-term motivation and willingness to learn about what sectors of our production need an educated plan, accessing social and political situations within different countries and being patient. We are all just trying our best to leave a positive impact.

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