My name's Scot MacIver. I'm from all over. I go to school at the University of Illinois at Chicago where I am a MS Civil Engineering candidate.
What got you interested in sustainability?
Originally, I started my undergraduate education focused on engineering, but eventually moved away from it because it appeared too one-track minded. I wanted to influence more than just dimensions, loads, and structural limitations. Sustainability was formally introduced during my first semester of graduate school. It was there I discovered sustainability encompassed all of my prior experiences and future goals. To me, sustainability presented a three part system—social, environmental, and economic—that allowed solutions to be multifaceted and involve multiple disciplines. It was this core concept behind sustainability that drove my interest. The ability to work on wicked problems with complex solutions amongst experts from a wide array of fields is what keeps me interested in pushing sustainability forward.
What sustainability, energy, and mobility issues are important to you?
Ultimately, I want to take sustainability all the way to the macro level with a complete reevaluation of cities and communities. To me, societies are an organism that is constantly changing. It is changing it’s size, a steady strong growth currently, and it is also changing it’s perspective socially, this occurs as different age cohorts move through life. In my opinion, we must design systems going forward that are capable of changing and adapting at a quicker pace, allowing for a degree of resiliency. In regards to mobility, I want to look at the best systems for the next 100-200 years, and not just what works best with our current infrastructure. I think it is important to move away from our reliance on gasoline and other polluting forms of fuel, but also our reliance on private vehicles. Part of this reliance is based on practicality, and part of it is simply learned behavior. Being able to evolve the transportation sector is a very important and passionate goal of mine.
What exciting projects/research are you working on now?
Currently, I am working on a project using virtual reality to analyze sustainable ways to evaluate and construct buildings. I am also working on a thesis with a focus on city engineering, and how to best move forward with the different issues ahead. Some of these issues are aging infrastructure, population growth, energy generation, transportation efficiencies, and climate change. I am hoping both paths will work together because virtual reality can be a great tool if used correctly, especially as it pertains to my thesis and the modeling required.
What are your plans for the next five years?
I hope to be well situated in a good company in the next 5 years, and I hope to have a handful of projects under my belt. I do not want to spend the next five years, or my entire career, designing and redesigning and then go through numerous approval procedures for just one or two projects. I want to make progress, and work for a company that is invested in that as well.
What made you want to apply to SISE?
My interest in the SISE program is similar to my interest in sustainability as a whole. I love the idea of addressing complex issues, and ones that ask for a multitude of professional backgrounds. Sustainability progress and SISE both ask for individuals from various backgrounds to come together to solve problems. They inspire collaboration and thus lead to great steps forward, and an opportunity to be a part of that is too good to turn down.
What are you most looking forward to doing in the city?
I am only two years into my experience in Chicago, but there is plenty I have already found to enjoy. The city is great for exploring, and doesn’t require a destination. In addition, it can all be done by foot, bike, or public transit. These factors are essential for a good city design, at least in my opinion. I would check out all the tourist spots like the parks and tall buildings, and along the way you will be hard-pressed to not find a good restaurant or bar every block.
Do you like cats? If not, are you willing to learn to like cats?
I do not have any cats currently. I use to, and hope to come across some in the future.