A couple weeks ago I had the amazing opportunity to travel to Iceland with The Green Program. While my time there did get cut short due to COVID-19 and the travel ban, the things I learned, people I met, and experiences I had will remain unforgettable. I was able to meet some of the brightest individuals and learned so much from them along the way, as well as increase my knowledge regarding renewable energy sources such as geothermal energy and hydropower at the Iceland School of Energy – Reykjavik University.

Iceland has been isolated from the rest of the world for hundreds of years and in order to thrive had to adapt and capitalize on its natural resources. Iceland sits on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge tectonic plate boundary which separates the Eurasian and North American plates. The island was created through the spreading boundary and continues to experience volcanic and subsequent earthquake activity. The boundary attributes to the geological phenomena that continues to create a surplus of green energy. This energy is used for a variety of demands including electricity, heating homes, fuel for greenhouses to grow food, and to support big industry.

Aside from classes and developing capstone projects, we were fortunate enough to have plenty of time to see some of the most beautiful places in Iceland including the Golden Circle and Blue Lagoon. Experiencing the natural beauty and magnificent glaciers, volcanoes, and geysers were by far the highlight of the trip. One day, we took a 4-mile round trip hike to a geothermal river where we took off our warm ski jackets and wool layers to bathe in the river with Icelandic natives. It was freezing outside, with snow on the ground, but it was really relaxing… until we had to get out!

I think it’s really important for engineers to look at Iceland as an example – the standard they’ve set for the world is very impressive, and it should be our goal as engineers to try to live up to this standard. 100% green energy should be the goal of every modern country, not just those with obvious advantages. I value my new perspective on energy and all the new friends I’ve made along the way. I look forward to starting my career this summer and am very thankful for all the support I’ve had from CNR over the years.