Daniel Chapman Lander
What is your role?
I am a lecturer in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). My teaching and research focus on fluid mechanics and thermo-fluids engineering. I am the co-organizer of the Engineering the Anthropocene lecture series at RPI, which aims to inspire conversations to understand how humans are changing the climate and what they can do about it.
Why you care about this prize, and what you hope this prize can achieve?
I think this prize can inspire engineering students and practicing engineers to think beyond a one-size-fits-all engineering and to encourage learning about how engineering knowledge can be used to empower and liberate communities. To encourage engineers to understand the politics and social implications of their work. To provide a network of engineers who can share knowledge and resource on how to apply engineering expertise within a commitment to social and environmental justice.
Who are your role models?
The first is Ronald Probstein, Professor Emeritus and former director of the MIT Fluid Mechanics Laboratory, who in the mid-60s unambiguously guided his Lab’s research away from military applications, i.e., jet engines & re-entry of ballistic missiles to “socially oriented” problems such as air pollution, water pollution, biomedicine and desalination. Steve M. Slaby, a Professor of engineering graphics at Princeton who devoted himself to campus organizing and helped facilitate the student resistance to the Vietnam war. As an engineering professor he was also dedicated to institutional social justice, resisting the systematic expansion of military-sponsored research at his institution and advocated the need for students to be trained to recognize the politics of engineering knowledge.
What is inspiring you right now?
Sheridan Hollow Alliance for Renewable Energy (SHARE) - a local (Albany, NY) grassroots coalition of citizens, law makers and engineers fighting at the intersection of racial, climate, and environmental justice. Kite’s Nest center for liberatory education in Hudson, NY. The Kite’s Nest vision of building the capacity of young people to bring about personal transformation, social connection, healing, and systemic change inspires me regularly.