"At CU I learned how to think and create knowledge in my field of study," says Charles Glass, who earned his master’s in civil engineering at CU-Boulder in 1994 and his PhD in 1997. "I also learned how to work independently on a project, which gave me the confidence to know that I could solve problems using the tools that I learned at CU. I have applied that knowledge, or confidence, to study areas outside of my specialty, to start a small consulting firm, and to build wealth."
Glass originally came to Boulder from Johns Hopkins University to participate in the Summer Multicultural Access to Research Training program, and he later mentored undergraduates in that same program after deciding to enroll as a graduate student at CU.
After completing his doctorate, Glass worked as an assistant professor at the University of Nevada-Reno for two years before returning to his hometown of Washington, D.C., as an assistant professor at Howard University. At Howard, where Glass notes there are four faculty in his college from CU, he has raised over $2 million, published 10 peer-reviewed publications, and is engaged in environmental engineering research focused on water quality and soil contamination—particularly the ongoing pollution of the Anacostia River in the nation’s capital. Now an associate professor at Howard, Glass says he considers his most significant accomplishments being a good husband, father, son, and friend—as well as a good mentor to the graduate students he teaches today.
"I see myself as an engineer trying to find sustainable solutions and an educator trying to teach students that no matter what type of engineer they become, they should be environmentally conscious," he says. "An environmental consciousness will go a long way if these engineers come into roles of power and have a choice or can educate their clients on the choices they make to incorporate low-impact or green techniques into construction and manufacturing."
Glass says he would feel fulfilled if, by the time of his retirement, the Anacostia River has the same water quality as the Potomac River. He aspires to establish a PhD program in environmental engineering at Howard University and to attain the ranks of full professor, chair, associate dean, dean, and perhaps president of a top 100 university.
"People should enjoy how they spend their life and feel like they are adding value to this planet and this human existence," says Glass. "They should follow their purpose, and it should be something they believe is their purpose for life."
The Glass legacy at CU continues this year with Glass’s cousin, Sterling, who is in his second semester as a College of Engineering and Applied Science freshman open option student.