First Class of Georgia Tech Sustainability Students Helps Shape Climate Action Plan


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Students in the School of Public Policy's Master of Sustainable Energy and Environmental Management (MSEEM) program made important contributions to Drawdown Georgia and showed the range of possibilities offered by the program.

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  • MSEEM Open House MSEEM Open House
  • Caleb Weed Caleb Weed
  • Haley Randolph Haley Randolph

For Haley Randolph, earning a degree from Georgia Tech seemed like destiny. She has multiple alumni in her family, including her father and grandfather. So when the Master of Sustainable Energy and Environmental Management (MSEEM) from the School of Public Policy was unveiled, her family made sure she knew about it.

The program was also a strong fit for Randolph's background, as she had majored in Environmental Science at Virginia Tech and worked in the field for a few years after her undergraduate studies. She wanted to expand her knowledge of the business and policy side of sustainability, however, and the MSEEM was the perfect way to do that.

The decision paid off: Randolph has since joined Atlanta-based startup Ubuntoo, a "global collaboration platform" focused on innovative sustainability solutions.

"A lot of the sustainability projects we work on are being driven by policies requiring fast-moving consumer goods – things like packaged food, cleaning products, and single-use plastics – to incorporate more recycled content, increase recyclability, or design for recycling," Randolph said. "I have a better understanding of the relationship between policies and corporate action thanks to the MSEEM program."

Randolph was also one of several MSEEM students who worked on Drawdown Georgia, the recently unveiled statewide initiative to cut carbon dioxide emissions by one third by 2030. The project's recommendations cover areas from electricity consumption and generation to land use policy and feature work from Georgia Tech faculty in three different Colleges, led by Marilyn Brown, Regents and Brook Byers Professor in Sustainable Systems and interim chair of the School of Public Policy.

"I'm very proud of the first MSEEM cohort and the significant contributions they made to Drawdown Georgia," Brown said. "Their diverse backgrounds and interests helped us identify a set of carbon-reduction solutions that are sweeping in scope and applicable to the diverse needs and resources of Georgians. Using equity as a compass, we also placed a special focus on the needs of under-resourced groups.

The MSEEM program includes required courses in fundamentals of sustainable energy and environmental economics, and students have flexibility in choosing electives, with the option to concentrate on more quantitative courses or pursue other fields such as urban planning. The program also includes up to five fully funded fellowships for students, who receive mentoring and guidance from the School of Public Policy's renowned faculty. 

The program has grown considerably in popularity since its first year, with the class increasing from 13 students to 22 and applications more than doubling, from 32 to 82. 

Those students came from diverse educational backgrounds, as demonstrated by the experience of Caleb Weed, who also worked on Drawdown Georgia. Weed majored in Telecommunications (Film & Media) as an undergrad at Ball State University in Indiana. Much of his work in that field focused on representation of ecology in film, and the growing global movement promoting awareness of climate change further sharpened his passion for sustainability. 

During his time in the MSEEM program, Weed worked in the transportation working group of the Drawdown Georgia project, specializing on electric and energy-efficient cars and trucks, while Randolph's group focused on food. He helped the team research and narrow down the best solutions for the overall project, and he also helped two teams of Civil and Environmental Engineering students apply Drawdown Georgia solutions to their senior capstone projects.

"MSEEM was a great experience," Weed said. "It introduced me to countless concepts, tools, and analytical methods that changed the way I think about environmental issues and sustainability."

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Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts, School of Public Policy

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Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts, School of Public Policy, sustainability
  • Created By: ifrazer3
  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created On: Oct 29, 2020 - 11:40am
  • Last Updated: Oct 29, 2020 - 3:49pm