Sustainability and conservation continue to rise as some of the most important issues to address using technology. From creating accessible sustainable energy sources to finding new ways to reduce waste and recycle materials, engineers are called upon now more than ever to create novel and efficient ways to protect our planet.

However, we must first encourage our engineering students to use their powers for good.

Gearing budding engineers towards using their education for the betterment of the world starts in schools. Providing students with engineering experiences that allow them to problem-solve while benefiting their communities can make a lasting impact on their professional paths.

For example, EPICS in IEEE provides grants for K-12 students to partner with local universities and non-profit organizations to solve community-wide issues, many of which focus on the environment. Students have tackled everything from creating sustainable lighting sources in a bottle for an impoverished community in Johannesburg to create a system of air quality sensors in the Philadelphia area. These projects don’t only help community members, but also support students in STEM. They provide invaluable, hands-on technical experience and encourage students of all ages to get involved in STEM projects that directly impact their lives. These projects allow students to gain a better understanding of what a career in STEM looks like, shows them how to use their education for good, and allows their curiosity to blossom.

Ultimately, projects like these can inspire young engineers to consider jobs in the rapidly-expanding fields of alternative energy and environmental engineering and will help secure a healthier, environmentally-conscious tomorrow.