EEE Students Travel to Sweden
"As part of the Sustainability Across Sectors Maymester Study Abroad course, we traveled to Sweden on a 14-day trip. We traveled across the country starting at the very north of Sweden and worked our way across the country, stopping in multiple cities. We ended our trip in Copenhagen, Denmark. We first started our trip in a city called Kiruna, home to the largest underground iron ore mine in the world. Mining has made the city unstable and as a result the entire city will be moved about 3 km east of its current position. We went to see the native people of Sweden who still practice a nomadic life. The people, called Sami/Sapmi are seeing a change in their hundreds of year old life style due to climate change. We saw reindeer, how they are fed, and how the Sami people’s lives circulate around reindeer husbandry. We also went to one of Europe's biggest furniture companies, Kinnarps, that has been practicing sustainable furniture making by planting their own trees and harvesting wood from sustainably grown forests. We also went to one of Iggesund’s paper mills. The company makes Invercote, one of the best quality papers in the world. iPhone boxes are made from their paper. They also practice sustainable paper production. They harvest seeds, plant them, grow forests, and harvest wood to get raw material for their paper. The facility is also almost entirely energy independent, meaning they almost do not consume any electric energy from the grid. We also went to an ice hotel in Kiruna. They harvest ice from the nearby Torne river and use solar energy to create and maintain their ice hotel 365 days a year. We went to the Kappala underground wastewater treatment plant in Stockholm and saw how it is re-building/re-shaping the historic royal seaport. We visited the Stockholm City Hall and parliament and learned about how Swedish democracy and socialism works. We visited a waste to electricity plant and saw how municipal solid waste is burnt to generate electricity. We finally went to Copenhagen, Denmark, where we had a boat tour and learned about sustainability.
Our trip was focused on sustainability from an environmental engineering perspective. We had an introduction to environmental engineering in our EEE coursework that gave us a good idea about how the facilities in Sweden operated and the technicalities behind their operation. We learned about how facilities such as Waste Water Treatment Plants and Waste to Energy Plants operate in a sustainable way. A big part of EEE is sustainability and finding solutions that are more sustainable for the environment. I am able to apply the first-hand knowledge I now have of sustainability measures that Sweden takes in all their industrial processes to my coursework back at Purdue. I hope to apply the experience and the knowledge I gained to sustainability in United States industries. Sweden is ranked 5th when it comes to sustainability while the United States is ranked 27th. My experiences from this trip can really help me to think about better and more sustainable solutions at workplaces here in the United States."