Next in the GCSP spotlight series is Lauren Lippman. 

Lauren is a junior studying chemical engineering. She is a College of Engineering Ambassador and the Vice President of Events for the Engineering Student Council, where she plans events such as the Cookies and Clubs engineering club fair. She is also the Project Manager for Chem-E-Car and is a member of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), where she has been the SWEsters coordinator for the past two years and has been part of their mentoring program. 

Her Grand Challenge is “Provide Access to Clean Water”. The goal of this challenge is to make access to clean water more affordable for millions of people around the world and to develop new technologies to overcome threats that the world’s water supplies are facing. This challenge relates to the research and multicultural dimension components of the GCSP because research must be conducted to develop new technologies to provide access to clean water and cultural perspectives need to be understood to determine what approach of providing clean water is best for specific countries and cultures. This challenge also relates to the entrepreneurship dimension because it is crucial for engineers to be able to pitch their ideas and find funding to implement these solutions in countries that may not have the funding themselves. Her involvement in the GCSP has allowed her to conduct undergraduate research for an environmental engineering clean water project, take courses in humanitarian engineering, and complete community service through Oregon State University’s Beaver Hangouts program. 

To fulfill her research experience, Lauren has worked in an environmental engineering lab under Dr. Tala Navab-Daneshmand for three years. She works with one other undergraduate student to research biochar infiltration columns and their ability to remove antibiotic-resistant bacteria from stormwater. Currently, she has performed preliminary testing on three different column makeups: one with soil, biochar, and soil and biochar. Each test requires Lauren to get stormwater from the OSU-Benton County Green Stormwater Infrastructure Research (OGSIR) Facility located by Avery Park. She then adds E. coli to the stormwater and runs it through each column to quantify how much bacteria were removed from the water. The next step in this research is to add different antibiotic-resistant bacteria to the water and see if it behaves differently. 

Lauren has enjoyed this experience because it has given her the opportunity to learn about environmental engineering and improve her interpersonal skills. 

“It gave me the ability to learn a little bit about environmental engineering without having to actually major in it, which was great!” she said. “I also enjoyed meeting other engineering students and learned skills such as how to go through the formal process of getting grants, writing a literature review, and presenting my research. This has also allowed me to travel across the country. I have been to Boston, Orlando, and Pittsburgh to present my research to a variety of people.”  

This experience has impacted Lauren’s GCSP experience by helping her realize the reality and importance of providing access to clean water. It also helped her understand that new technologies in clean water need to be distributed inexpensively and easy to implement so people will use them.

To potentially fill her multicultural dimension, Lauren took HEST 320: Innovation for Social Impact. This course discussed health issues from a global perspective and looked at the pros and cons of several different healthcare systems around the world. It also looked at the different solutions to medical problems and performed cost-benefit analyses on if the prevention or treatment methods were cheaper than treating the illnesses. Lauren enjoyed this course because it gave her a global perspective on healthcare systems and health issues. This course helped her realize that you must come up with different solutions for different areas of the world since each area has its own problems. Lauren may use this toward her GCSP multicultural dimension requirement, but she also suggested that she wanted to try and find a class or activity that was more closely related to her Grand Challenge. 

To fulfill part of her service-learning requirement, Lauren volunteered for Beaver Hangouts through SWE. Beaver Hangouts is an Oregon State University organization that creates lesson plans to deliver remotely in rural Oregon and parts of California for youth from kindergarten to high school. Beaver Hangouts develops lesson plans for all subjects and its goal is to promote post-secondary education. Through Lauren’s involvement, she most recently developed a lesson plan for a middle school class on electrolysis. Part of her lesson plan involved a hands-on experiment where the students took two pencils, sharpened them on both sides, put them in water, and attached the two pencils to a single battery, which forced the water to separate. This experiment was exciting for the youth while being inexpensive so students from various backgrounds could participate. 

Lauren enjoyed this experience because it allowed her to shift her mindset from a student point-of-view to a teacher-point-of-view. She also improved her fundamental knowledge of basic engineering concepts and learned how to explain her ideas in a clear and concise manner. She also improved her communication skills greatly. 

“I think working with the communication aspect will come in very handy in the future,” Lauren said. “Looking at trying to implement solutions to providing access to clean water, you have to individualize your approach based on what’s going on within the community and you have to be able to communicate with people who don’t have your knowledge background or who don’t necessarily understand what you are there to do in the first place. So, I think it’s important to have the skills to communicate with other people and put yourself in their shoes and get them to want to communicate with you. Getting people to want to communicate with you and then actually understand and benefit from what you have to say is extremely important to implement new solutions.” 

Lauren enjoys the GCSP because it has challenged her to complete all its components within four years while still enjoying the college experience. It has rounded out her education by allowing her to complete more electives related to providing access to clean water and has helped her realize that creating solutions and developing new technologies for clean water is something she would like to do in her future career. Lastly, she enjoys the GCSP because of its flexibility and motivation it gave her complete the components. 

“I like the flexibility a lot,” she said. “I like that it challenges you, but it doesn’t push you to do something that you wouldn’t want to do. Within every component, there’s something appealing for everyone and if there is not, you can go out and search for it and bring it back and ask, ‘hey can this count’ and usually, they will work with you. This program gives you that extra push to take that one extra class that you wouldn’t have taken otherwise or to do that volunteer activity that you didn’t necessarily think you had time for. I like that the GCSP emphasizes you doing all these extra things that you want to do but you wouldn’t have had the motivation to do if there wasn’t something holding you accountable.”