"Every one of our graduates is placed."
Those are the words of teaching assistant and post-doctoral student Abhishek Roychowdhury — and those results belong to the first graduating class of the sustainability management master’s program.
The sustainability management program is led by professor Dibyendu "Dibs" Sarkar and focuses on bridging the gap between scientific progress and social implementation. The program trains students from technical and non-technical backgrounds to innovate for environmental progress. Since the program focuses on creating lasting change, it brings together a diverse body of students. Students in the sustainability management program may have differences in gender, nationality, age and work experience, but they are united in working together toward a common goal: making the world a greener place.
That goal is the heart of the program, according to Sarkar: "As I always say, sustainability is not just a profession, it is a passion. If someone has that passion, we can help them shape it into an impactful career that will contribute towards developing a sustainable world."
That passionate approach is proving successful, based on the outcomes of its first class.
"This program was very fun," said Caicedo. "I gained a lot of experience here, a lot of new friends and new colleagues." Caicedo used his experiences in the program to lead a $3 million project at SIMS Metals Management. That was his capstone project—an enormously rare and immense opportunity for any student. But Caicedo excelled. That’s why the company offered him a full-time job. "If one of our students can complete a $3 million project as their capstone, there’s nothing better than that," says Sarkar.
"The final capstone project I thought was really valuable because we were able to do whatever we want—create a project, choose a mentor and shape it into whatever we wanted," said Mondadori. He worked as an assistant project manager for the Center for Environmental Systems while getting his degree, and was able to create a project building on his experiences in his job and in the program: a software program designed to get local businesses involved in sustainability.
"My whole experience in the sustainability management program was great," said Mukherjee, who took two courses to test the program before enrolling full-time. "My background is in environmental botany, but I was interested in doing more for the environment. When I heard about the sustainability management program, I realized that was the correct field for what I really want to do. That was my passion. Plus, the program director provides careful attention to every student, which was very helpful." Thanks to that careful attention, Mukherjee will be able to pursue her passion as a sustainability biologist for Merit Global Energy.
"This program is very practical," said Nagara, who is combining his experience in this program with his background in chemical engineering to pursue a Ph.D. in environmental engineering here at Stevens. "The sustainability management master’s program is a good fit for people to learn firsthand from experienced professionals. Plus, our class has lots of opportunities to interact with each other and the instructors."
"I don’t have a background in sustainability management," said Park, "but I made a lot of good friends in this program. And Dr. Sarkar also guided me so I can have a good experience in this program." Park will use his experiences in the program to be a water quality scientist at Jilin Water Treatment Plant in Jilin City, China.
"My background is in clinical psychology, so I didn’t really have anything on sustainability," said Suarez, "but I took a chance, and Dr. Sarkar took a chance with me and believed in me, and I got into the program."
"I have to say, I learned so many different things, from business perspectives to engineering perspectives—which was hard for me. But this program taught me how to gain knowledge." Suarez is currently the assistant to the town administrator of West New York, New Jersey, and "I did that full-time while going to school full-time. But I found my niche in helping towns with resiliency and floodplain management. And that’s what I’m going to do."
Another graduate of the program was Rusha Pal. She graduated in December and went on to pursue a Ph.D. at Purdue University.
"I am extremely proud of our first graduating class," said Sarkar. "They were our first "pilgrims of the voyage" who paved the way for others who joined the program in the following year. Because of them we now have a vibrant program with 24 dedicated students, a number that helps us maintain an optimal faculty-student ratio to provide individual attention."
"These graduates also worked hand-in-hand with me in further developing the program," Sarkar added. "They suggested improvements, formed the Stevens Sustainability Association and helped us in many different ways for which I am extremely grateful. We will remain lifelong friends and I wish them all the best in all their future endeavors."
"I’ve met students from [a prestigious school] who were two, three years out from their degree and weren’t sure what they were going to do," says Roychowdhury. "Every one of our graduates is placed. Eighty percent of them ended up employed by one of the speakers from the sustainability seminar series."
The series features weekly lectures from industry leaders in the sustainability field. Plus, each lecture has a meet and greet with the speaker, offering students the ability to both learn and network—and are archived online for future reference. "The seminar series is an opportunity for us to get internships and job placement," says Mukherjee. "When speakers come, they want to know about your background, then they look into their projects and find you a job."
It’s a benefit students are well aware of. "We're at capacity in our current room," Roychowdhury says. "Even the overflow room is packed."
It’s a benefit employers know well, too:
"I think these graduates are going to change the world," said Sarkar, "and given how much work all they put into developing the program, I'm sure the sky’s the limit for future graduates of the sustainability management program."