The liberal arts foundation here is so powerful. I feel like I'm coming out as so much more than an engineer, and employers realize that about Bucknellians too — we're trained in a lot more than math and science.

Updated June 13, 2017: Nick will work in water and wastewater design at Brown and Caldwell, an environmental engineering firm in New York City. During Commencement, Nick received the Michael D. LaGrega Award for Excellence in Environmental Engineering, awarded to a member of the graduating class whose academic achievements and interests show outstanding promise for a career in environmental engineering. Congratulations, Nick!

Nick Bartek '17"Growing up, I did a lot of projects with solar and alternative energies and I thought 'this is really cool, I think this is going to go somewhere.' Then climate change really came to the forefront, and alternative energies were starting to gain a lot of attention and traction. I liked the idea of being involved in tackling one of the biggest problems of our generation, so when I learned that Bucknell had an environmental engineering program, I hurried to apply.

"I've been doing research with Professor Higgins on volume expansion in anaerobic digesters since my first semester. I've really been able to take ownership of the project — I am the one running tests, coming up with experiments and analyzing the data. Looking at a lot of the bigger engineering schools, if you get any lab experience at all, you're extremely lucky, and even then, you're probably not working directly with a professor. It's especially rare for first years to get that experience like I did. The faculty-student engagement here is one of the main reasons I chose Bucknell.  

"When we started, we were working with a pretty new idea. It was very vaguely understood and there wasn't much literature or data out there about the problem, so I had to start off working on very basic stuff. Now that we better understand the mechanisms involved, I've presented our work at a few conferences. We're working on a model for what we've been studying, which I'll present as well. It's been really cool to see what started off so small to become so big, to the point where we're considered a point source — a lot of people will reach out to Professor Higgins and me asking for our suggestions, since we know a lot about the subject.  

"I'm heavily involved with sustainability and looking at problems holistically, and being involved in the Grand Challenge Scholars Program forced me to branch out and take liberal arts courses that make me a more well-rounded engineer. The program is designed to equip you with the engineering principles you'll need to address these grand challenges of the world, and to immerse you in the socioeconomic side of things, which is really important, especially in environmental engineering. That's why the liberal arts foundation here is so powerful. I feel like I'm coming out as so much more than an engineer, and employers realize that about Bucknellians too — we're trained in a lot more than math and science."    

Nick is from Wallingford, Conn.

Posted 5/3/16

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