Melanie Triplett

What does it mean to you to be an engineer?

I’ve learned from studying at an engineering school that the engineering world is expansive; there’s room for people from adjacent disciplines to both influence and be influenced. My work, for example, could help engineers develop cleaner technologies.

How is your field being redefined for today and tomorrow’s needs? What contributions do you hope to make to this redefined landscape?

Sustainability seems to be a buzzword now in the way that it was not even just a few years ago. That’s a welcome change. It’s redefining everything from how cities are built to how companies are run. I’m working right now with an initiative that rates businesses on factors like how much water they use and their level of greenhouse gas emissions. That concept is part of the term Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance or ESG, which refers to three important factors in measuring the overall impact of an enterprise.

SUE, as a major, has evolved as the general public conversation evolved; that means, for one, thing, that we’re all paying a lot more attention to issues of environmental and social justice — who gets to benefit from improvements in sustainability and who gets left behind.

How did NYU Tandon help you redefine yourself?

When you study a deeply interdisciplinary subject, you get to choose where to place your focus and what path you ultimately want to take. Tandon allowed me to participate in a wide variety of courses and consider a wide variety of options, such as public policy, which might not be a pursuit you automatically associate with an engineering school.