Beau Anderson

Beau Anderson
  • BS Mechanical Engineering 2008
Beau Anderson wants to engineer a planet with more heart.

The earnest alumnus says, "Humanity is something I would love to bring to the whole world; make sure every single person has water to drink, every person has shelter, food, health, and people around them caring for them. I don't want to make the world a huge monoculture. Differences are awesome. But every culture should provide humans with all their physical needs."

Anderson, who describes himself as "my young and ambitious self," graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering in May 2008. While a senior, he participated in the study-abroad program for four months in Copenhagen, Denmark. He worked on a vehicle that can drive on both the road andon a monorail system. He calls the project "futuristic."

Being in a different culture had a familiar result: a new worldview to replace twenty-two years of growing up in the UP - "a pretty small culture when you come down to it." Aside from technical knowledge, the greatest thing he learned was how naive he was. "It was definitely an eye-opening experience that people don't all speak English. I went to the store to get milk. I came out with curdled cheese."

The difficult adjustment made him "more sympathetic" to immigrants everywhere. "Imagine coming to a place not knowing the language, not knowing how to live, not knowing anything about the culture, and trying to survive every day. It's a challenge. You're out of your comfort zone."

The experience, however, suited him. "It fit perfectly with my attitude of not taking anything for granted. You can tell me the pot is not hot, but I need to touch it a couple times."

One big difference he encountered: the Danes are "energy-conscious people." "There's a huge infrastructure for cycling. Cars yield to bikes. Car taxes are huge and designed to discourage driving. Wind power is everywhere."

He worked with people from other European countries, not Danes. "It was so great. We didn't speak the same language, but we understood each other. Beam buckling in America is the same as beam buckling in Europe. Materials act the same."


Written Summer 2008