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Engineering students help residents stay warm

Biological engineering student Julie Fitzler, left, helps weatherize a resident’s home with the aid of Bonnie Walker, a mechanical and aerospace engineering student.

Some Mizzou Engineering students are sharing the warmth of the season in an unusually practical way.

About 30 Engineering Ambassadors and Mizzou Engineering Student Council members visited several low-income Columbia residents on Dec. 1 to help weatherize their homes. Using weather-stripping and other insulating tools, the students worked to reduce utility costs by improving energy efficiency at the homes.

“Most environmental things have that double benefit: it saves money and it’s good for the environment,” said biological engineering freshman Annemarie Nauert, who was among the students seeking to contribute to the community by weatherizing homes. “As engineers in training, we should try to bring that benefit to the community.”

The engineering volunteers joined forces with about 80 other MU students to supply manpower for a two-year-old program cosponsored by Columbia’s water and light department and Central Missouri Community Action, a Columbia-based organization that aids those in poverty. Volunteers have weatherized about 60 city homes this year, compared to 45 homes last winter, said Lauren Ryan, the program’s student coordinator.

Both low-income and elderly residents are eligible for the program, Ryan said. Low-income residents often cannot afford to make the improvements that would reduce their energy bills—which subsequently must be subsidized—while the elderly may simply be unable to use the necessary tools, she said.

Engineering Ambassador Co–President Kate Faust, a biological engineering senior, welcomed the opportunity to help residents outside the university community.

“Ambassadors in general are outgoing, so group projects are always good,” Faust said.