Linnea M. Palmer Paton, BS

Hometown: Sharon, CT (now in New York City)

Degree earned at WPI:
BS, Civil Engineering, Environmental Policy and Development

Why did you choose to attend WPI?
I learn by doing. WPI was the only school where hands-on learning was designed into the curriculum through a projects program. I chose to study environmental policy and engineering so that I would be a more knowledgeable advocate for climate action in the engineering community.

How did your experiences at WPI prepare you for graduate school?
I started a master's program in urban planning at NYU Wagner. After a full course load at WPI, I found the graduate program to be too easy. I also realized that I was much more drawn to media and PR work with Occupy Wall Street than I was to the urban planning internship I had at the time. I decided to quit school and pursue media and advocacy work for climate action and socioeconomic justice.

How do you feel your experiences at WPI prepared you for working in your field?
I currently volunteer with Occupy Wall Street and the Disrupt Dirty Power Campaign. My background in environmental policy, economics, and politics from WPI has given me a foundation for challenging corruption, neoliberalism, and the status quo.

How has WPI’s philosophy of Theory and Practice, and working with teams, prepared you for facing real-world challenges in the workplace?
In the real world, team members who don't contribute or want to slack off get cut from the team. I would like to see the real-world practice implemented more at WPI as well as at NYU Wagner.

Groups or extracurricular activities you participated in at WPI:

  • WPI Students for a Just and Stable Future
  • WPI Organization of Folk Arts (WOOFA)
  • WPI Open Sing
  • WPI Rappersword Team
  • The Plowshares

Academic or professional awards you have received:

  • WPI Awards Best Major Qualifying Project (May 2011)
  • Social Sciences Kranich Prize
  • Humanities and Arts Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship
  • Marietta Anderson Award
  • 2010 Gertrude R. Rugg Award
  • 2009 Ellen Knott Award
  • 2008 Outstanding Member Class of 2011
  • Charles O. Thompson Scholar

Environment and Community:

  • Morris K. Udall Scholarship 2010: Honorable Mention
  • Canon Envirothon 2007: First Place Team & High Score, Soil Science Cat.
  • Apalonia Stanilus Award 2007-2009
  • NWCT Community Foundation Hope for the Future Award 2007, Housatonic Valley Authority

Academic Merit:

  • New York University: Half Tuition Merit Scholarship
  • WPI/Paul Allaire Future Engr. Leadership Scholarship: Full Tuition

Additional comments:
Engineers and scientists must look closely at the moral implications of their work. From business corruption and environmental degradation to the weapons used to suppress peaceful dissent, the work of engineers and scientists is at the forefront of many social struggles. Therefore, it is incredibly important for WPI students to take courses in social history and ethics in order to critically analyze the consequences of their professional work.

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