Meet Chris Hillebrand, a first-year graduate student in Energy Systems Management in The Grainger College of Engineering. He’s also a member of the Energy Generation, Purchasing, and Distribution SWATeam.
For Hillebrand, being involved with iSEE is a chance to extend both his professional and personal interests. After looking for ways to get involved on campus, he stumbled across the SWATeam — an opportunity that would give him real-world experience in dealing with different energy mixes for a large organization.
Beyond gaining that experience, Hillebrand believes that being able to influence students on sustainability at the university level is one of the most crucial aspects of the job.
“Sustainability is something that most everyone can see some value in, but few understand how to practice it,” he said. “A university is a place where individuals often come to define who they are going to be for the rest of their lives. Illinois has an important task ahead to help influence students to make sustainability a core belief, helping to spread this wherever they may go after graduation.”
This type of behavior change ultimately begins with individual awareness.
“I think that the most important thing to be done for all bodies is to make people more aware of the consequences of our specific choices,” he said. “Once someone is more informed, they can make more environmentally-friendly decisions for themselves.”
Overall, the team atmosphere of working with some of the sharpest minds on campus is what he enjoys best — a strength when it comes to solving issues on his SWATeam.
“The most rewarding aspect of being on the team is to have the opportunity to learn from individuals who are experts in that area for the entire university,” he said. “The biggest strength that this university has is the people who are associated with it. Illinois is well known for having individuals who are experts in their field on a global scale.”
Apart from student and SWATeam duties, Hillebrand leads an active lifestyle and enjoys playing soccer and learning new gymnastic-type skills with the CU Trickers Organization. He also has a Siberian husky who loves to explore campus with him.