Dartmouth Engineer - The Magazine of Thayer School of EngineeringDartmouth Engineer - The Magazine of Thayer School of Engineering

Four Dartmouth Engineering Students Named NH/VT Schweitzer Fellows

By Anna Fiorentino
June 2016 • CoolStuff

Four Dartmouth engineering students were selected to be part of the 2016-2017 class of New Hampshire/Vermont Schweitzer Fellows to design and implement a community service project. They were among 33 in NH and VT granted the honor.  

Fioleda Prifti and Rita Tu
Fioleda Prifti and Rita Tu Th’17

For the next year, Thayer PhD students Andrew Allee, Nick Laws, and Fioleda Prifti and Rita Tu Th’17 will develop leadership skills and address social factors that impact health in the example of famed physician and humanitarian Albert Schweitzer, for whom the Fellowship is named. The fellows are encouraged to address the root causes of health disparities in under-resourced communities in collaboration with a community-based health and or social service organization.

Tu and Prifti will conduct food science workshops for students at both the Montshire Museum of Science and the Dothan Brook School to help introduce them to science, engineering and health concepts.

“We want to use ice cream to explain how freezing rates affects texture, for example,” says Tu, who is excited to merge her interests in food science and public outreach. “I have always wanted to explore food engineering and this is a great introduction into the field. The idea is to expose students to STEM in a less intimidating environment and encourage conversations about nutrition within families,” she says.

Nick Laws
Nick Laws

Laws and Allee will also partner with the Montshire Museum to design and build open-ended tabletop projects for hands-on activities that teach basic principles of nutrition, home energy efficiency, and alternative energy.

“Our activities will be offered within the Museum and at outdoor pop-up science events across rural New England, with a focus on areas with higher concentrations of low-income households,” says Laws.

Laws’ PhD research overlaps with his fellowship. His focus is on integrating more renewable energy into the electricity grid, optimizing spaces for energy efficiency, and the use of local energy resources for greater energy security.

“I have two lofty aims with my Schweitzer Fellowship. First, by bringing awareness to big-picture energy concepts, I hope to encourage households to adopt energy efficient behaviors in order to reduce their environmental impact as well increase their expendable income through lower utility bills,” says Laws. “Second, I hope to excite future scientists and engineers to address the energy issues of tomorrow.

Andrew Allee
Andrew Allee

“I expect to gain greater leadership and project management skills through my Schweitzer Fellowship, as well as a greater knowledge of the gaps in understanding that households have in terms of energy use and production,” adds Laws.

The Fellowship is also an opportunity for Allee to build off his interest in exploring how bioenergy technology can be used to benefit rural communities in Africa and Latin America.

“Within the next five years, I hope to be on the ground implementing some of the solutions that my Dartmouth education has enabled me to create,” says Allee. “That job will be equal parts engineering and community engagement as I deploy the technology with the help and support of the community that stands to benefit from it. I see my time as a fellow as an opportunity to practice that skill to the benefit of families and kids in New England.”

Tags: alumni, award, energy, extra-curricular, humanitarian service, leadership, projects, research, STEM, students

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