Sustainability Initiative Earns RIT Student Top Honors at International Symposium

Erinn Ryen’s project explores future of household electronics

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Erinn Ryen won first place in the IEEE International Symposium for Sustainable Systems and Technology conference student poster competition.

Strategies geared toward a more sustainable future are resulting in present-day recognition for a Rochester Institute of Technology student. Erinn Ryen, a doctoral candidate in RIT’s Golisano Institute for Sustainability, is the first-place recipient of the Student Poster Competition at the 2012 ISSST, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ International Symposium for Sustainable Systems and Technology conference, held May 16–18 in Boston.

Ryen’s project, “A community ecology framework to assess evolving diversity of household electronic products,” was among five posters and four research papers presented at the event by Golisano Institute for Sustainability faculty and students.

“Presenting posters at conferences such as IEEE ISSST allows me an opportunity to gain critical feedback about my research from colleagues and established academic researchers,” Ryen says. “Winning first prize is an unexpected bonus.”

Ryen’s exploration looks beyond sustainability practices that limit their focus to a single product at a time, such as producing and using a laptop computer. She explains that consumers buy additional electronics like printers, mobile phones and digital cameras, which amplify a household’s overall environmental impact.

“The goal of our new research framework is to help identify ways to design and manufacture these products in a more sustainable fashion and guide consumers toward greener purchasing decisions,” she says.

The conference annually features new sustainability research and recent industry innovations with a focus on information and communication technologies. The program covers the spectrum of issues for assessing and managing products and services across their lifecycle as well as the design, management and policy implications of sustainable-engineered systems and technologies.

Gabrielle Gaustad, faculty member in RIT’s Golisano Institute for Sustainability, served as chair of the student poster competition and was also on the conference organizing committee. Fellow RIT faculty member Callie Babbitt, Ryen’s adviser and collaborator on this research project, served as session chair for the education symposium.

Additional RIT participants at the symposium include students Chelsea Bailey, Kim Bawden, Jacqueline Ebner, Michele Goe and Chandramouli Venkatesan, as well as RIT researcher Sidney Pendelberry and alumnus Annick Anctil.