Jessica Fischer '18
Jessica L. Fischer ’18 is part of a new generation of engineers who want to end the world’s dependence on fossil fuels.
Her passion for sustainable energy led her on a journey to a remote area of Peru last winter to volunteer with the WindAid Institute, a nonprofit organization that builds wind turbines for developing communities.
In many respects, the trip was a lifelong dream. As a child, she was intrigued by the wind farms cropping up along the shores of Lake Erie near her hometown of Buffalo. However, it was a visit to the famous Maple Ridge Wind Farm in Lowville that proved to be a transformative moment.
“I recall being mesmerized by the intense power of the wind,” she said. “From that day forward, I knew that wind energy would be a major influence on my academic career and beyond.”
Fortunately, SUNY Canton’s Mechanical Engine er ing Technology program offered her an opportunity to specialize in alternative energy. When she learned about WindAid’s mission, she jumped at the chance to put her knowledge into practice.
“I was able to take my education one step further and see first-hand how providing access to environmentally friendly power can change someone’s life.”
She joined a team of 11 other engineers from around the globe to manufacture a wind turbine in just four weeks. The team was supervised by a small staff, and material costs were paid for by the volunteers themselves, primarily through fundraising. In Fischer’s case, she received generous donations from the Canton College Foundation, Thomas P. Woodside ’66, and the offices of the President and Provost.
“Thanks to their support, I was able to take my education one step further and see first-hand how providing access to environmentally friendly power can change someone’s life,” she said. “When we turned on the lights, we could feel the sheer gratitude from the community members.”
The WindAid experience further fueled her passion for sustainability. She helped create SUNY Canton’s Environmental Change Organization, which spearheads campus conservation efforts like composting and recycling. Most recently, she spent the summer at the University of Massachusetts conducting research on a wind energy-based system that desalinates seawater. This groundbreaking technology has the potential to make a significant impact on areas where access to fresh water and electricity is scarce.
She said innovative studies like this one, similar to her work with WindAid, have given her confidence about the future of renewable energy. After graduation, she plans to join other like-minded engineers in their mission to power a cleaner world, one community at a time.