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Florida State University


"As I didn't know what I wanted to study upon entering college, I appreciated the fact that Florida State offered so many great programs. I took a Real Estate course, in addition to my Engineering course work, and realized how interesting all the different aspects of land development were. In this area, Civil and Environmental Engineering are perfect complements, as the Civil Engineer may be able to design the structures for the property and the Environmental Engineer knows how to minimize the impact of site construction and how to remediate sites that have prior contamination," says Kayna Shipp.

Kayna has also benefited from living on an Arabian horse farm here in North Florida. As part of the family-owned business that breeds and shows national-title horses, she has had many opportunities to develop management skills and to participate in the design and construction of farm structures.

Upon moving to the farm, the family realized they were immediate need of a disposal method for the animal manure, as hauling it can be quite costly, and simply placing it in piles can be unhealthy. Kayna began researching the different methods for composting, and was shocked to learn of the enormous amount of waste in American society that could be composted or recycled. She says, "By paying a bit more attention to where your individual wastes end up, either a landfill or incinerator, you realize how large your individual impact on our environment is."

For the past seven years, she has been working independently of her coursework to develop a method whereby biofuel is used to heat water. She explains, "The idea stems from the fact that anyone can compost. As organic matter (leaves and house waste) decomposes, an extraordinary amount of heat is produced. So, people could be supplementing the energy used to heat water with this alternative energy source, while also creating a wonderful, organic fertilizer for the soil in their yards.

"I would like to create a unit that maintains the correct balance of nitrogen and carbon rich materials, water content, and aeration through a computer system. While I am focusing on creating a system that is user friendly for Americans (as well as aesthetically pleasing), this system could also be used by those in third world countries who do not have electricity."

Following graduation, Kayna plans to work for a private land development firm. "Slowly, firms and clients are seeing the benefits of sustainable design, which reduces or eliminates negative impacts on the environment, conserves natural resources, and reduces the energy used. I would like to be able to show clients in North Florida—as we now have areas of incredibly rapid growth—that there are cost-effective alternatives."

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