Cynthia Schafer

Cynthia  Schafer
  • BS Environmental Engineering 2008

Cynthia Schafer is a young woman living according to her convictions.

The 2008 graduate has a keen sense of conservation, and, she avows, "I'm going to try to live as long as I can without a car."

A native of Minnesota, Schafer graduated in May with a bachelor's degree in environmental engineering. She loves "the ecological part of engineering." She wants to work in developing countries. "I want to improve their standard of living without increasing the burden on the planet."

Meanwhile, over the summer, Schafer led a group of high school students to Tennessee to work on the Appalachia Service Project, repairing homes for people who can't afford it. Come fall, she will teach English in Mexico for a year. Then she will attend the University of Colorado to work in a master's program called "Engineering in Developing Communities."

The discipline suits her nicely. She is especially high on what she calls "the sustainable stuff."

As a student in senior design, she worked for two weeks in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, designing a canal and roadway to curb flooding. She enjoyed seeing an engineering project from concept to completion, and working with business people, residents, and government officials. "It was a lot of fun and a lot of work," she says. In her free time, she played soccer with the kids and helped build an addition to a school. "I'd go back for sure."

While on campus, she worked on ways to reduce energy and lower Tech's "carbon footprint." This was no exercise in highflown ideas; rather practical matters like unplugging appliances that aren't being used and turning the lights out in the other room.

She also conducted CO2 measurements over LS, trying to determine whether the lake is "a source or a sink" for carbon dioxide.

Schafer allows that global warming is not without some controversy, but she has a typically matter-of-fact outlook: "Whether it's actually true is irrelevant in my mind. We're impacting the planet somehow, and I don't see how reducing our emissions would hurt at all. I believe that humans have caused change to the climate of the planet, and I want to not contribute to that as much as I can."

Written Summer 2008