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American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers

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Take Five!

Great inspiration can come from a simple conversation, so, to keep you inspired, ASABE is pleased to offer this series of casual interviews with Society members. Spend a few moments getting acquainted with. . .


Chin_Portr1

Rebecca Chin, Jr. Eng.
Graduate Student
McGill University

Born/raised: Pointe-Claire, Quebec, Canada
Current home: Pointe-Claire Quebec, Canada
Education: B.Eng. (2012), McGill University

 

With what kind of projects are you involved? I recently completed an internship with Resource Efficient Agricultural Production (REAP)-CANADA as a Renewable Energy Intern. I completed two months at REAP-CANADA's Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue (Montreal), Quebec head office where I supported their switchgrass research project. One of the goals of REAP's Canadian-based switchgrass project is to increase biomass yields through selective plant breeding, with the aim of using switchgrass as an alternative biofuel.

I followed that internship with a four-month component abroad in Wack Ngouna, Senegal, West Africa, where I raised awareness about clean cooking, improved cookstoves and deforestation caused by traditional cooking methods. That work supported the local partner, Cadre Local de Concertation des Organisations de Producteurs (CLCOP), with the promotion and distribution of REAP's two improved cookstove designs, both of which are manufactured locally: the Mayon Turbo Stove (MTS) and the REAP Clay Brick Stove. The MTS is a conical metal stove that uses agricultural residues as a fuel, such as peanut shells, which would have otherwise gone to waste. CookstoveThe ashes can then be used in multiple ways, including as a fertilizer and soil amendment. The REAP Clay Brick Stove resembles the traditional three-stone open fire with three stacks of fired bricks upon which the cooking pot rests. It is surrounded by a round brick wall that shields the fire from the wind and improves the heat transfer from the fire to the cooking pot. It reduces the amount of fuelwood required, decreasing both the amount of time spent collecting such fuelwood and  the rate of deforestation. 

What was it about the discipline that drew you to agricultural and biological engineering? I initially started out in bioresource engineering with an interest in addressing environmental issues. I knew that the environment was something important for everyone's well-being and that these problems needed solutions, so I wanted to learn more about what could be done. However, through my education, I was exposed to the possibilities of addressing international development issues within the realm of food security. I took a strong interest in this since I consider people's well-being, especially of basic needs such as food, of utmost importance. I think that my desire to help others and my interest in problem-solving have both played a role in choosing agricultural and biological engineering.

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