Casey Stein: Confronting the Energy-Water Challenge

A 2013 graduate of the MIT Energy Studies Minor program

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Studying Energy at MIT means many things to many students. For some, it means urban planning or ocean engineering. For others, it means nuclear physics or climate science. Energy permeates almost all disciplines at MIT. This is the second installment of a 4-part series that offers an inside look at the interests and motivations of a few Energy Studies Minor students.

Casey Stein

Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP) major Casey Stein ’13 grew up in a small town in rural New York. She spent her time rowing in Fish Creek, hiking and skiing in the nearby Adirondacks, and visiting national and state parks during family trips.

“This gave me not only an appreciation for the environment, but also insight into the impact that humans have on it,” Stein said. “When I came to MIT, I knew I wanted to focus on environmental issues, and energy production is one of the biggest contributors to environmental problems – and specifically, challenges surrounding energy and water.”

As an undergraduate, Stein became dedicated to discovering part of the solution to these problems through the lens of planning. To complement her DUSP major, she added a minor in energy studies, becoming the first MIT student to pair the two (Stein will be a part of the fourth energy minor graduating class). Stein says doing the minor has exposed her to many different facets of energy, including the science, engineering, business, policy and planning aspects.

On top of her coursework, Stein found her two UROPs (Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program) to be invaluable learning experiences. For one UROP, she developed case studies focused on controversies surrounding the siting of wind energy facilities. For the other, she researched hydraulic fracturing for an environmental case study and looked at the history of the process, the technology, and the benefits and concerns associated with it, specifically in Pennsylvania and New York.

“These experiences taught me that it is important to understand both the details and the larger context of these issues in order to find workable solutions,” Stein said.

This year, Stein is completing her undergraduate work. But because she is in a five-year program, Stein won’t be leaving campus just yet. She will return next fall for one more year at MIT to receive her masters in city planning, which she hopes will help prepare her for a career that allows her to apply her energy, planning, and research knowledge to problems of energy and the environment.

She says, “It is going to require many efforts in many places to confront these challenges and change how energy is produced and consumed.”

This article is part of the I Minored in Energy at MIT: 4 Student Stories series.