Maybe it was growing up in the clear Colorado sunshine, or her spectacular view of the Rockies, but Dyanna Becker's (E'11) environmental interest was sparked early — in her middle school science class. After arriving at Carnegie Mellon in 2007, that spark grew into a passion.
"The more time I spent learning about environmental issues, the more I decided it was something I needed to be committed to," Becker stressed.
It's easy to see why. Becker is currently the networking chair and soon-to-be vice president of Sustainable Earth, a campus organization dedicated to educating the university community. She's also a founding member of the school's chapter of Engineers Without Borders and attended the recent Power Shift global warming conference in Washington, D.C., with 50 of her classmates. Next year, she'll be co-chairing the annual campus environmental awareness event, Focus The Nation.
Becker is also a member of fellow engineer Anna Lenhart's (E'10) research team. The team received a SURG — small undergraduate research grant — toward studying the feasibility of using the native jatropha plant as a biofuel in East African towns. Villagers are currently forced to search for wood or use expensive petrol for their heat and light.
"There are so many student clubs at Carnegie Mellon focused on sustainability issues — and tons of professors in my department doing related research," said Becker. "It's definitely easy to get involved here."
After graduation, Becker hopes to improve public transportation and make it more widely available, thereby decreasing car traffic, resultant greenhouse gas emissions and U.S. dependence on oil.
Becker believes Carnegie Mellon is helping her reach her goals.
"It's the combination of classes and extracurricular opportunities, being able to access funding and people who want to do research with you," she said. "I was able to learn so much from joining clubs where people are all passionate about the same thing and from the classes I'm taking. It's not just undirected passion now. I know not only what I want to do, but why what I'm doing is a good thing."