Gertrude Villaverde lives the simple life. She shares a small apartment with her partner Frank and their dog Panini, buys as little as she can, makes her own soap and lotion, and doesn’t own a television.
She is majoring in energy systems engineering (ESE) at Oregon State University – Cascades and eventually wants to put her degree to work for the greater environmental good.
“I am a problem solver, and engineering solves problems at the highest level,” says Gertrude. “OSU-Cascades is giving me tools for my utility belt.”
The ESE degree at OSU-Cascades is the fourth of its kind in the nation to receive full accreditation from ABET, the body that accredits college and university programs in applied science, computing, engineering and engineering technology.
The degree produces graduates who can help address complex engineering and business issues associated with traditional and alternative energy systems in order to achieve maximum energy efficiency.
The OSU campus in Bend is being designed as a net-zero energy campus, and Gertrude sees studying the new campus being built from the ground up as a tremendous learning opportunity.
She’s also looking forward to participating in the Multiple Engineering Cooperative Program (MECOP) as part of earning her ESE degree. MECOP is a competitive work-study program that provides students access to engineering companies. She’s already planning to downsize to a travel trailer to move between the two, six-month MECOP internships.
She believes her generation can help solve the environmental problems facing the world today.
“It starts with the individual, and then collectively we can tackle the big issues,” says Gertrude. “Engineering shows you the many different ways to solve a problem.”