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Mogwai 11-14-2012 10:20 AM

Any environmental scientists out there?
Hello Everybody,
I am near the end of my first year of grad school studies in Environmental Science and hope to graduate in Dec 2013. Next year, I have to do a capstone project, but have no idea what to focus on.

I was thinking about doing a project relating to alternative energy or sustainable energy usage. Is there a job market for environmental scientists in that field in or around NJ? Or would it make more sense to focus on remediation (something I am also interested in)?

huntingohio 11-14-2012 10:38 AM

I'm not from NJ,but with this current administrations stated goals [not being political here, they said it]. The alternative and sustainable energy job market should increase.

If your fishing for project ideas look for simple implementable solutions for everyday people, for example I hate built two wind generators out of nothing but PVC pipe, an old cb tower, and a "junkyard" altenator. Combined with a small 3 panel solar panel setup they powered a deer camp. I have also laid out plans for a "roman style" water wheel hooked to a $250 alternator, It should along with solar and wind be more than enough to power your average rural homestead.

Conan 11-14-2012 11:00 AM

I'm technically a geologist, and am from Buffalo, but the entire market is dead here- remediation and energy. I'm working at an environmental test laboratory now which fields samples from a diverse background of clients, many of which are environmental engineering/ consulting firms. They are hired by construction companies, railroads, etc. to do the remediation work and the samples generated are sent to us.
Addressing the alternative energy route: my gut says that administration has little to do with it, so I would look at other trends in the area. Are people accepting windmills and solar panels as plausible use of land, or are they resistant? Here, we have city folks who are very pro-windmill....as long as they're in the outlying farmland. In the farm area, neighbors of windmill owners call them unsightly and disgusting and bird hazards. The farmers/ landowners upon which the windmill resides are making money so they're okay with it. So-in lies the problem of NIMBY (not in my back yard), of which I'm sure you're familiar.
My advice is this: do the hardest project you can, incorporating as many techniques, programs and analyses as possible. This will make you infinitely more marketable. Good luck! Kyle

julioardz 11-14-2012 11:21 AM

I'm not from NJ and I am no environmental scientist either, but I like huntingohio's idea of a project focused on solutions for everyday people. Change the world one person, or one home, at a time type of thing, you know? I live in an area that regularly gets hit with droughts, so I'm thinking more along the lines of water collection and reuse for the home. I'd like to see homes and other buildings with two waste water lines. One sends toilet water to the city treatment or septic tank and the other collects shower and sink water to treat and reuse on site for non consumption purposes. Underground tanks to collect rain water from the roofs and driveways of homes would also be nice. Is there anyway to get all that flowing water being collected to generate a little electricity? Maybe it could be just enough to power the pumps that pull that water out to be reused.

Homercidal 11-14-2012 02:08 PM

Wouldn't collecting rainwater from house roofs do damage to the local environment? Seems like it shoudl be going back into the ground...

bioguy 11-14-2012 02:19 PM

The problem with rainwater in NJ is that it doesn't go back into the ground because it is diverted into storm drains, and ultimately into streams and rivers. The more hardscape there is, the less percolation area you have. One way to alleviate this is to catch the rainwater and have it recharge the aquifer over a period of time.

I live in NJ, and would really like to have a local source of methane so I could run my generator when the next hurricane hits. How about a methane digester that runs off of household sewage? I would put it in-line with the municipal waste water so that any excess would run off and go downstream. The methane produced could be pressurized to normal household pressures by a weight. When there is enough pressure, it would feed into a gas water heater or something in the house that vents to the chimney (since you're producing not just methane, but some sulfur compounds as well).

bioguy 11-14-2012 02:29 PM

Here's another idea - brewing is clearly an interest of yours. How about looking at energy use at microbreweries in NJ, and seeing if there are things you can do to make them more sustainable. For example: uses for spent grain, capturing CO2 generated by fermentation to grow hops in a greenhouse, waste digester to make methane to help power the boil pot. You might even model parts of this system on a small scale at home.

BoomerHarley 11-14-2012 02:29 PM

Mogwall, yes there is a growing market for sustainability. I'd focus on greenhouse gases and sea level rise issues as those seem to be the up and coming issues. I work for a very large environmental consulting firm in CA (we're worldwide). Right now, everybody is talking about greenhouse gases and the effects of global warming/ sea level rise. Feel free to PM me if you want more info.

BBL_Brewer 11-14-2012 02:34 PM


Originally Posted by Homercidal (Post 4588487)
Wouldn't collecting rainwater from house roofs do damage to the local environment? Seems like it shoudl be going back into the ground...

That actually has a whole lot less impact than all the concrete/asphalt we have everywhere that channels water to the drain instead of letting it percolate down into the ground.

To the OP. I don't have any good project reccomendations. But as for the job market, I would start job searching as soon as possible and see what's out there. I started with a Land Management major and ended up opting for Environmental Protection instead. There are a lot of jobs in remediation and Hazardous and Solid Waste Management. Originally I had thought about going into remediation, but ended up doing EH&S as that is where my career led me. Although alternative energy will likely grow in the near future, most of the jobs will either be general labor or chemistry/Engineering focused.

ReverseApacheMaster 11-14-2012 02:50 PM

I know New Belgium has a massive energy/waste recollection program at the Ft. Collins brewery. Might be worth looking at how to share that technology to breweries with smaller space or less ability to build out those systems.

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