Lecturer Keen to Introduce Environmental Influence in Engineering
PhD graduate and Lecturer in the School of Engineering Dr Elena Friedrich is keen to bring an environmental agenda into engineering. Friedrich, who developed a keen interest in environmental issues during her first years at university, has just been awarded her PhD in Civil Engineering.
‘Both my Masters and PhD engineering dissertations deal with the interface between engineering activities and the resultant environmental impacts,’ said Friedrich. ‘I would like to bring the environmental agenda into engineering through raising awareness and developing tools to address environmental issues resulting from engineering activities.
‘I’d also like to be involved in a practical manner and to do applied research in this field contributing towards sustainability and making a difference. I felt that the best place was in civil engineering because of the immediate impacts of my research,’ said Friedrich.
Friedrich’s PhD dissertation, supervised by Dean and Head of School, Professor Cristina Trois, was titled: “An Investigation into the Emission of Greenhouse Gases Associated with the Disposal of Solid Waste in the eThekwini Municipality”.
Her research entailed calculating greenhouse gas emission factors for the management of waste in the local context. These factors are important for measuring how much greenhouse gases are emitted from waste management processes. As such they help optimise current waste systems and assess new waste management strategies with the goal of minimising greenhouse gases resulting from waste management.
Raising a family, studying and working at the same time, proved difficult for Friedrich. ‘My children were very young when I started and at times it was a very frustrating experience. I had help from my family, however, in particular my husband and from the LEAP programme at UKZN - they provided lecture relief for one semester. I’m very grateful for all this help.’
With her PhD in the bag, Friedrich intends to continue with her research and widen the scope of her studies. ‘Besides greenhouse gas emissions, I’m interested in the vulnerability of infrastructure to climate change and in air emissions from transportation,’ she added.
- Prashina Kallideen