HomeEducation2022 Student Impact Award Winners: Energy

2022 Student Impact Award Winners: Energy

This year the Institute on the Environment and Office of Sustainability hosted the inaugural, system-wide Student Impact Awards. These awards honor student efforts to lead the way towards a future in which people and planet prosper together. Meet two of the winners, whose leadership efforts focus on our energy transition.


Riya Milan brings energy to student solar network 

University of Minnesota Duluth’s Solar University (UMD SUN) Delegation saw low participation in recent years. But that started to change when Riya Milan, mechanical engineering major, became the student organization’s leader. “It is wonderful to see someone leading this club with such enthusiasm and giving it momentum to continue after she graduates,” says Craig Hill, faculty advisor to UMD SUN Delegation and professor in the Mechanical & Industrial Engineering Department. That enthusiasm has not only increased participation in the club, but has also helped bring about broader awareness of the role of solar energy systems in a sustainable campus system. 

Milan is championing community engagement with solar energy systems by leading the effort to install additional solar panels at UMD that are paired with real-time monitoring systems and displays in campus buildings. Those displays will invite students, staff, and visitors to see the impacts of UMD’s solar energy efforts and demonstrate the university’s ongoing commitment to building a sustainable future.


Shelby Engels promotes sustainability through tech

Shelby Engels, software engineering major, has a passion for using technology to advance sustainability on the University of Minnesota Crookston campus – and then the world. Since coming to Crookston in August 2021, Shelby has become a distinguished leader in campus sustainability efforts and on the Robotics Team.

Engels has used their technical prowess to revamp the UMN Crookston smart recycling system and is currently developing software that will track energy use in each campus building. In addition, they are a skilled community builder. “Shelby meets new people and finds ways to connect with them and finds ways to bring them into sustainability,” says Katy Chapman, associate professor in the Math, Science, and Technology Department and Sustainability Coordinator for the Center for Sustainability, UMN Crookston.

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