The grim reality of our well developed and industrialized world hits you hard, if you stay couple of miles away from landfills, where mountains of garbage get dumped, causing an unbearable stench and the biggest threat to our Environment and our health in the form of toxins and greenhouse gases.

Sruthi Pramoth, our next pathbreaker, Environmental Engineer, works to achieve the goals of zero waste to landfill for all kinds of industries through conversion of industrial waste into fuels, power, energy or recyclable alternatives.

Sruthi talks to Shyam Krishnamurthy  from The Interview Portal about her internships in Sustainable Energy that led her to work on the most pressing problems that our society faces today in terms of waste disposal in a sustainable way.

For those students who want to heal the world through diverse problem solving skills, go for Environmental Engineering, the world needs you !

Sruthi, tell us about your background?

Being born in a very reserved family, my mother was denied higher education. Knowing the importance of education, she gave us complete freedom to pursue whatever we wanted to. Despite many difficult situations, she never stopped motivating me, which helped me secure the topper award in the class 10 board exams and achieve greater heights thereafter in every stage of my life.

Mrs Rukmani Samiappan, Principal and Owner of Saru Matriculation Higher Secondary School was one of the sources of my determination and Energy. I keenly observed her way of handling everything.

What did you do for graduation/post graduation?

I was interested in Biology and Genetics, so I decided to pursue my bachelors degree in Biotechnology. But my parents forced me to go for Environmental Engineering. 

What made you choose such an offbeat, unconventional and uncommon career?

While doing engineering, I developed interest in Sustainable Farming. You can ask me how an Environmental Engineer can dream of pursuing a career in organic farming. But after seeing the benefits of sustainable farming, I understood the reasons behind environmental instability and felt the urgent need for Sustainable farm practices. 

Tell us about your career path

My final year Project was Energy Optimization in Sugarcane Cultivation Practices.

With the Support of ICAR (Indian Council of Agriculture Research) we did Energy Auditing for Sugarcane Cultivation Practices. We conducted face to face survey of farmers. That was the time I realized the need of sustainable practices in Agriculture. Every farmer was worried of water shortage and pesticides being loaded in their soil. 

I have met other horticultural farmers who happily adopted drip irrigation and poly houses. Their product yield is generally higher compared to those following traditional practices. The awareness and adaptability is less among our farmers. This was when I realized that sustainability is not only for Industrial Practices but for Agricultural practices as well.

My BTech in Energy and Environmental Engineering focused on Energy, Renewables and Environmental management studies.

Renewable Energy is an important sector which helps reduce CO2 emissions due to fossil fuels. While I was studying a Solar Energy Engineering Course in my third year, I did a one month Summer Internship in Solar Thermal Applications for the better understanding of Solar Energy.

I did my first proper internship for three Months in Design2Occupancy. The building sector poses a major challenge in maintaining Environmental Sustainability. IGBC, LEED, GRIHA and certain other rating systems recommend this sector to adopt green practices, for which Government lends greater support. 

Design2occupancy is one of the growing Green building firms which gave me the opportunity to work on IGBC Projects and Microclimatic analysis. I worked on projects to identify the available natural daylight and the methods for better utilization of natural resources which ultimately reduces the energy consumption of the building.

I continued there, where I worked majorly on IGBC Precertification and Certification Projects. 

How did you get your first break?

First of all I wanted to work in a different Environment, which made me to choose Design2Occupancy, a firm in North India. Apart from work, I learnt adaptability and gained the ability to work in different cultural environments. I did my internship in Green buildings and continued working there for a year. I was very active in LinkedIn Social Network and got internship opportunity through the same. 

What were the challenges? how did u address them?

It was difficult for me to learn in that environment due to language issues. But i managed.

Where do you work now? 

I work as a Proposal Engineer for Waste to Energy Projects in Kankyo Group of Companies, Chennai. I work on projects which address basic environmental management problems faced by Industries, Commercial Establishments and Local Government Bodies. In my role, knowledge and presentation skills are a must. Each day I get the opportunity to learn new things which gives me a lot of job satisfaction. I get projects from different backgrounds and industries. Each project gives me different exposure.

The major problem in handling waste is its heterogenous nature. Each kind of waste has its own physical properties. For example organic waste from western Countries will have lesser moisture content and the same waste from countries like India has moisture content upto 65 Percent. These attributes are very sensitive and are the deciding factors for appropriate technology to use for waste conversion.

My work is primarily related to Destruction of Hazardous waste. We get enquiries for all sorts of hazardous waste, right from harmful ETP Sludge to Industrial Chemical Waste. Destruction of these chemicals is not easy.

I also work on Energy Production from Municipal solid waste and Biomass waste (Rice husk, Empty Palm fruit Bunch etc) through gasification Technology.

Considering the Environmental impacts of incineration, everyone is now opting for gasification technology. As it has high working temperature it is eco friendly to generate Energy

I provide an economically feasible model to my clients, for which continuous interaction with vendors as well as an in depth understanding of client’s requirement is needed. 

How does your work benefit the society? 

We work to achieve zero waste to landfill. Zero Waste is a set of principles focused on waste prevention that encourages the redesign of resources so that all products are reused. The goal is for no trash to be sent to landfills, incinerators, or the ocean.

As an Energy and Environmental Engineer, we bring awareness and solutions to maintain the sustainability among the society.

Tell us an example of a specific memorable work you did that is very close to you!

I was unaware of the importance of water bodies and Environmental Sustainability before pursuing my Bachelors. 

I was more then happy to volunteer in lake remediation activities by joining hands with Environmentalist Foundation of India. Also as a part of my role, I worked on various lake and river body remediation projects which gave me more satisfaction and fulfillment.

Your advice to students based on your experience?

Have a hobby and spend time on it on a daily basis. Don’t follow others in choosing a career. 

Future Plans?

My future plan is to pursue a career which drives the nation towards Sustainability in both Industrialization and Agriculture.