This has been an educational and exploratorative semester for me as an energy systems graduate at Northeastern University. The programs interdisciplinary curriculum combines the technological concepts of alternative energy sources with the managerial and financial decision making skills necessary for implementing these projects.
This semester is heavy on the financial management aspect, as I am in a few MBA classes as well as a project management course. I find myself knee deep in case studies for activity based accounting methods, variable budgeting, yield curve interpretations, and time value of money calculations. This is not quite what I expected as an energy systems engineer, none the less, I am learning to respect the financial side of a company and understand what spins the wheels of the economy. Special thanks to Mad Money High Noon with Jim Cramer!
As for my exploration, the limited amount of class time and work load compared to last semester has given me far too much time to ponder my future and explore the field of sustainability, alternative energy, and green living. I am appreciative of my freedom as a student making my own schedule and self motivated attempts to understand the industry that I hope to get involved with. I am afraid though that I am concocting a false sense of employment opportunity out there in the real world, which leads me to always consider the possibility of creating my own industry of sustainable goodness.
So what are my interests? Project management. I have always tried to sum up what type of employee I was, and it was not until my project management class that I understood. I have always liked being in control of things, understanding a projects scope and visualizing the process of getting from concept to product. Also, I have always been interested in too many things to become a specialist in anything. While the work force is made efficient by specialists, I have never had the desire to devote myself to a focused area. As my athletic lifestyle depicts, I execute cross-training and keep myself involved in soccer, biking, snowboarding, and weight lifting as a means to give myself a well-rounded fitness level ready for anything the world throws at me. I find the same should be true for my career - involved in customer-driven project implementation where my role is constantly evolving, I get to wear many hats, and each day will bring new surprises, challenges, and rewards.
So what type of projects? I have tended to lean toward the catch phrase of energy efficient building restoration mixed with other keywords like resource management, renewable energy initiatives, conservation and resource solutions that deliver energy cost savings to customers. I have also been motivated by a grand attempt to link all my passions in one master feat of entrepreneurialism. This has been a conjuring in my mind for quite some time, and I think it deserves a blog entry soon, so stay tuned.
My problem is that the more I learn, the more I want to tackle it all. I am reading an excellent book right now Sustainability by Design by John Ehrenfeld, the message of the book is that the solution to global climate crisis and depletion of earths resources requires a cultural change. People have to be willing to simplify the way they live and work in order to implement change. While alternative energy, recycling, and eco-conscious mindsets are admirable, a seachange is necessary to solve the problem rather than cover up the symptoms.
Another book I read, Cradle to Cradle by William McDonough and Michael Braungart, focused on the wasteful nature of the produced goods industry and revealed the truth of the wasteful recycling programs that are poor attempts at establishing a sustainable society. The authors provide an insightful look into material selection considering embodied energy, material life, and reusability.
In the end of the day, it is overwhelming how many supposed solutions there are to our climate and lifestyle woes. Opinions on everything from natural gas to solar arrays to organic farming can be debated from sun up to sun down. I have realized that opinions and research are extremely valuable, however, the real difference maker lies in each individuals awareness of who they are and what they want their impact to be on the world.