Category: Alumni


Mairead Rauch graduated from the ERE program in 2013. She then continued her journey of service, and social engineering. Mairead is currently a graduate student and Trinity Fellow at Marquette University, which enables students to advance justice and hope through service based scholarship. I had the pleasure of chatting with her at Mother’s Cupboard in Syracuse, and learned how Mairead had engineered a path of service to improve our world.

Mairead, 2nd from right, with her FrancisCorps friends.

Mairead, 2nd from right, with her FrancisCorps friends.

Here is how Mairead recounted her story. As a student in the ERE program Mairead was seeking a way to combine her faith with her talents in engineering in order to provide needed service to our community. Before graduation she earned a position with FrancisCorps, and during the summer after graduation Mairead began a year of service at Francis House, a hospice home run by the Sisters of Saint Francis. This involved community living and comforting the dying, their families, and working with other volunteers. Mairead was humbled to be part of this experience, and grateful for the insights she gained about herself and interpersonal relationships. Clearly, she also found that community living had some large challenges, but by perservering and weathering challenges, Mairead learned more about her own limits, needs, and gifts. The time at Francis House helped Mairead gain the perspectives of others, and as an engineer, this taught her a bit about how she could better meet the needs of older people and the sick.

After FrancisCorps, in September 2014, Mairead signed on to be a live-in assistant at L’Arche Syracuse. In this capacity, Mairead lived in a community house to share duties with three disabled adults. Over the course of that year, she had the honor of spending time with a core member in her last days, participated in the celebrations of those overcoming prior limits, and took part in the everyday joys and challenges of L’Arche life. Mairead highly recommends a year in L’Arche to anyone who wants to explore their faith life and build true friendships, regardless of your ultimate career goal.

Starting in late summer of 2015, Mairead will be in graduate school at Marquette University, funded as a Trinity Fellow. Her academic home is the Environmental Engineering program, which is small, but well-integrated into the general engineering department. In addition to her engineering classes, her Trinity Fellowship requires 3 special courses: Social Entrepreneurship, Nonprofit Organizations; The Nature of Cities, Urban Policy and Politics; and Social Justice, Social Activism. Mairead sees the classes as a good way to understand the scholarship of social engineering and prepare for service-oriented lives or careers.

In addition to classes, the Trinity Fellowship supports Mairead to conduct 20 hrs per week of service placement during the semester, and engage full-time in service during the summer. Mairead has a service placement with the Milwaukee Center for Independence, which works with disabled people of all ages. At the Center, Mairead will be the Family Partnership Coordinator. In this role, her task will be to develop relationships with the families of disabled children, trying to engineer the Center’s programs to best serve the family needs. Mairead understands this work may appear distant from the typical engineering work for an ERE graduate, and the work she may pursue after graduation from Marquette. Yet Mairead feels prepared to undertake and succeed in this wonderful challenge of service!

Sean Murphy, who earned his BS from the SUNY ESF ERE department, was the recipient of a Dow Sustainability Fellowship to work on alleviating health problems in Indian slums. Here is the beginning of one report by Sean, with a link to a blog site where you can read more …

“There is a never ending chatter of honks, horns, and beeps from vehicles declaring urgency or simply exchanging pleasantries as my teammates and I are shuttled through busy downtown streets, linked between daily meetings or chauffeured to a magnificent landmark in one of India’s iconic three-wheeled automatic rickshaws. Apprehensive from the overcrowded streets filled with impatient motorists and doubtful of the city’s traffic laws, I lean forward to study the world as it passes and am reminded there is method in the madness. There are children playing cricket in an open lot, merchants sprawled over the sidewalks selling art, clothing, and jewelry, and vendors waiting on corners with panipuri (fried bread filled with flavored water), pav bhaji (vegetable curry), ganne ka ras (sugarcane juice) and other wonderfully aromatic snacks. Homes and shops wedged one on top of another, built of crude materials and standing awry like that of Seussian architecture, colonize much of the valued land. The skyline is sown with corporate and residential high-rises, though many are delayed in construction, windowless, and awaiting occupation.

Indian megacities face several unique challenges in providing even basic needs and services, notably housing, water, and waste management, for one of the largest and most dense populations in the world. Recently launched in 2014, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India Mission) is a government campaign and nationwide call to action for a cleaner, healthier, and safer India. The program’s goals are to improve solid waste management through proper disposal, reuse, and recycling, eliminate open defecation through construction of sanitation facilities, and generate public awareness through health education across all twenty-nine states. Achieving these ambitions will be complicated in an urban environment where core problems are magnified in scale, and particularly daunting in Mumbai, where half of the city’s population is estimated to live in slums.”

Read more at Slumdog Engineer.

Sean has completed his assignment, and is now working for the US Indian Health Service, working with Native American communities in South Dakota as they design technical and financial solutions to problems related to water and sanitation.