City Semester students become architects of sustainability in Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH — Penn State students Jackie Zheng and Sarah Fetter spent the summer in Pittsburgh, not to vacation, but to learn about a future in sustainability through the City Semester program facilitated by Penn State Center Pittsburgh.

Zheng is enrolled in the Bachelor of Architecture program at the College of Arts and Architecture and Schreyer Honors College. As a City Semester intern, he had the opportunity to work on several research and design projects with Riverlife, an organization dedicated to redevelopment of downtown Pittsburgh’s waterfront.

“My research projects involved finding and analyzing case studies of resilient and inclusive waterfront developments and affordable housing models. These projects will provide Riverlife with references for future projects along the river,” Zheng said. “One project is the Manchester Community Market which we hope will bring together community partners to activate and celebrate spaces in the Manchester borough. Manchester because they don’t have a convenience store.

Sarah Fetter is majoring in Earth Science with a minor in Sustainable Leadership at the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences and worked as an intern at Covestro’s North American headquarters based in Pittsburgh. The Germany-based company produces a variety of polyurethane and polycarbonate materials using cost-effective and environmentally compatible technologies. As an intern, Fetter became a member of Covestro’s communications and government relations teams. She said her research on corporate social responsibility (CSR) and corporate governance aims to help the company in its sustainability efforts and to be aware of possible changes and restrictions on the horizon.

“Many of my projects involved research and I hope this research can help the company plan its CSR work and sustainable manufacturing efforts,” Fetter said. “I was also part of the winning team for Covestro’s annual Intern Sustainability Challenge, which means our proposal will be factored into the company’s carbon reduction action plans. I hope the research I have done for this proposal can help Covestro set an example for other companies so that we can see big industries tackle the climate change crisis.

Ben Renwick is the STEM Education Lead for Sustainability, Community Engagement and Outreach for Covestro. It helps create learning experiences for students who aspire to enter a STEM-related field.

“Sarah’s main project has revolved around researching state-level policies and bills that impact Covestro. These invoices include Advanced Recycling, Extended Producer Responsibility and Recycled Content, all of which should be summarized and made readily available to our employees,” Renwick said. “She has been dragged into many different projects with our team, from advocacy to government affairs and community outreach to students. The exposure for her to learn about the different aspects of sustainability and what it means for a company like Covestro shows what types of career paths are available in the chemical industry,”

Renwick said the work interns do with the City Semester program not only helps them find future careers in sustainability, but it also benefits Pittsburgh communities.

“City Semester students get an inside look at what companies and other organizations are doing as leaders in sustainability and climate action. It’s a great experience for undergraduate students not only to take a course in sustainability, but also to gain an understanding of real-world challenges and solutions,” Renwick said. “There is no easy street or silver bullet to solve all of Pittsburgh’s challenges. , so hearing and learning from younger audiences is good for the city.”

Discover the City Semester experience in this short video.

If you are a student or a business, organization or agency interested in learning more about participating in City Semester, visit the Penn State Center Pittsburgh, a service of Penn State Outreach.

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