At the beginning of this year, I participated in a study abroad experience in Iceland at Reykjavik University through The GREEN Program. [The program] has several different destinations where students can choose to study in Nepal, Peru, and Japan along. During [my eight-day study abroad experience], I was able to learn about Iceland’s energy industry and how it leverages geothermal and hydropower energy to power its cities. I attended lectures focused on entrepreneurship and energy policy and [took] tours of various geothermal plants and hydropower plants.

Using the knowledge gained from inside and outside of the classroom, my group and I were able to design a capstone project focused on creating a solution to address sustainability challenges faced in the real world. This led to our capstone addressing sustainability concerns in the aviation industry through the implementation of green hydrogen fuel onto commercialized aircraft. By doing this project I learned more about the UN’s sustainable development goals and the sustainability complex and how to incorporate these tools into the problem-solving process as an engineer.

As a researcher who works on cutting-edge technology, [we] need to be aware that what [we] create affects the environment around [us]. Is it doing more harm than good? This program showed me how to keep this at the front of my mind and that sustainability can be implemented in any discipline and in any field. This experience also [thought me] about myself and what can happen when I push past the limits of what I think to be possible. I had a fantastic time getting to know my cohort made of students from all around the country and my wonderful tour guides Jillian Verbeurgt and Embla Sveinsdottir.

I heard about the GREEN Program [as part of] my minor in honors interdisciplinary studies. [One of the requirements for the minor] is to participate in a study abroad experience whether that be virtual or in-person. I was looking through the Aztec Abroad database and saw the GREEN program listed as an option to do during the winter session. Since I was not able to study abroad during the semester this stood out as the best option for my situation.

[I would definitely recommend this program to other students!] This program is perfect for students who want to study abroad but may not have the time to dedicate a whole semester or year to do so. Food and all the activities/excursions are included in the price and all you would have to worry about is extra gifts you buy on your own. Iceland is a beautiful place both in the warmer and colder months and you will not regret your decision. 

Lastly, I want to thank The GREEN Program for allowing me to pursue this adventure and for the support for my first experience abroad. I am forever grateful and can’t wait to use the skills I learned to tackle more challenges in aerospace sustainably.

– Kaylin Borders (MARC Scholar, Aerospace Engineering, SDSU )