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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Students learn to sustain green careers

Keith Hickman-Perfetti
Panelists speak during the Sustainability Career Panel and Networking Event at the UA Student Union Memorial Center on Thursday 23 Fedruary. Panelists represented companies such as Ratheon, Tucson Electric Power and Global Green Integrators. Keith Hickman-Perfetti/ Arizona Daily Wildcat

Students are learning how to earn green while promoting green alternatives.

Professionals working in sustainability met with students on Thursday to tell them about careers in sustainable energy and the steps it takes to become an expert in the field. Many of the professionals, who were recruited to the campus by Career Services, were representatives and CEOs of sustainable companies like Global Green Integrators, a recycling division that minimizes landfill waste and Grecycle, a company that collects wasted vegetable oil from local restaurants to create biodiesel.

Acts of sustainability were categorized as human, economic, social and environmental forms. Each speaker associated his or her company with one of these four backgrounds. Some of the companies, like Global Green Integrators, deals with both the economic and the environmental aspects of sustainability and completely rely on renewable energy, said Lisa Perez, CEO of Global Green Integrators.

“I am taking the food in the back of this room and selling it to pig farmers when this meeting is over. To me, that is sustainability,” she said. “My company uses whatever food scraps we can get.”

Fourteen to 22 percent of the trash in a landfill is food scraps, according to Perez.

The process is different for other professionals working for Raytheon Missile Systems or Tucson Electric Power, which are dependent on coal and fossil fuels. Both companies said they are looking for new sustainable resources.

“Right now, it is crucial in step one, and step one is to make sure the lights are on in the emergency room or the lights are on in the classroom,” said Ted Burhans, a renewable energy employee for the Tucson Electric Power. “In saying that, our step two is aggressively taking steps to not rely on coal and fossil fuels so heavily and looking for sustainable and renewable projects.”

As the world’s largest developer, producer and integrator of weapon systems, Raytheon is also looking to become known for sustainability, according to Hyte Johnson, the company’s director of environmental health and safety.

“New sustainability and renewable energy projects are a very important aspect to the missile projects,” he said, adding that the company is starting to employ engineers solely to work on increasing their sustainability efforts.

Students who have a background in finance, accounting, engineering or management have a good chance at “getting their name into the market,” said Michael Baruch, a Bright HomeSave program employee with Tucson Electric Power.

“I would recommend to students that while it does help a little what you major in, the most important aspect that we would look for is curiosity and the hunger to want to learn more,” he said.

Some students attended the event to learn about what the professionals do, how they work in sustainability and how they could participate in local projects or internships within the field.

“My second major is in regional development, so I have always had an interest in sustainability and renewable energy,” said Christopher Kern, a senior studying political science and regional development. “I would also like to keep my options open and the ideas flowing for new sustainable projects.”

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