April 19, 2019
2019 Engineering Sustainability Conference
CEE, in partnership with the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation at the University of Pittsburgh and the Steinbrenner Institute for Environmental Education and Research, recently held the Engineering Sustainability 2019 conference at the D.L. Lawrence Convention Center, downtown. The conference, which takes place every two years, attracted hundreds of industry experts, university faculty, and students from across the country.
Dave Dzombak, CEE department head, was instrumental in putting the conference together alongside Melissa Bilec and Gena Kovalcik from the Mascaro Center. “Dave has led the charge in bringing the topic of sustainable engineering with a ‘water track’ to the conference,” said Kovalcik.
Bilec added that she was excited to see so many young faculty, undergrad, and graduate students at the event. “It speaks to the future of this industry. We value our relationship with CEE—our campuses are so close, and this is one tangible way we’re able to use that proximity to make great connections.”
Dzombak added, “this conference has been ongoing since 2005 and continues to attract a very young and motivated group of attendees.”
Several CEE professors and students presented at the conference—and others discussed their research during a poster presentation session.
Vishal Vaidyanathan talked with conference attendees about his work assessing the amounts of BPA found in water bottles and other items consumers typically reuse. He reinforced the prevalence of BPA by asserting that 93% of people have been found to have levels of BPA in their bodies. Vaidyanathan’s research determined that even bottles labelled BPA free allowed the chemical to leech into water stored for 21 days. He says BPA intake has been proven to cause cancers and lead to obesity.
Current CEE student Aradhana Gahlaut attended the conference because it was close to campus and because she wanted to see others’ work on stormwater management. “This was an opportunity that I couldn’t miss; it’s inspiring to see the research other students are doing.”
CEE alum Michael Blackhurst, now a research associate at The University of Pittsburgh, mentioned that the conference provides fuel to build ideas and momentum for young engineers. “This provides a stepping stone for ideas and is a great venue for people with an interest in sustainability.”
Alum Tom Siller, a professor at Colorado State University, travelled to the conference because of its energy. “This is the future—when you see these students focused on issues like water management, you have to feel good about the next generation of engineers.”