When environmental engineering major Peter Heller encourages students to get involved with everything the College of Engineering and Applied Science has to offer, he speaks from experience.
“There is no better way to gain experience and build a network than getting involved outside of your coursework during your time in the college,” he said. “There are so many opportunities and resources available to students in the college, and taking advantage of those can be the best way to enhance your education.”
His own dedication to enhancing his education has earned Heller the college’s Outstanding Undergraduate award for May 2020.
“It is an honor to have been chosen because all of the success that I have realized here at CU Boulder is a result of all of the hard work and dedication that my peers, mentors, and professors have put in to help me,” he said. “Everything that I got involved in on campus was something I wanted to do because it was fun and exciting — it was never to receive recognition.”
Heller’s list of CU Boulder accomplishments and activities is long. He was a Boettcher Scholar. He held two internships with Wright Water Engineering and a Colorado Science & Engineering Policy Fellowship, working with Colorado Representative Chris Hansen and Senator Bob Rankin to draft legislation for greywater reuse systems.
Heller also was involved with several extracurricular groups on campus. He joined Alpha Phi Omega, a co-ed service fraternity. He was part of the University of Colorado Engineering Council (UCEC) and served as a senator for the University of Colorado Student Government (CUSG). He is also a co-president of the Student Ambassadors, the group of students that leads campus tours and events for prospective students. Heller has also worked with Assistant Professor Julie Korak last year on a project that involved photocatalytic reduction of nitrate from contaminated sources.
In 2019, Heller studied abroad in Australia at the University of New South Wales in a prestigious environmental engineering program. He also participated in a Global Seminar program in Tanzania in summer 2017 related to environmental conservation.
“This time spent camping all across the country shaped my perspective and my drive to be involved in environmental engineering moving forward,” he said.
Heller said that graduating represents a culmination of several years of hard work and intentional learning.
“I am proud to be getting a degree from the Environmental Engineering Program, as this program is not only nationally recognized as one of the top programs, but it also cares deeply for its students and enables all of us to succeed — not just a select few.”
After graduation, Heller plans to move to Seattle to work as an engineering consultant with BHC Consultants.
“I’m excited to put my education to use right away designing water and wastewater treatment systems, piping designs and some landfill design,” he said.
Eventually, Heller hopes to return to school to pursue a master’s degree and then use his engineering background to advocate for water conservation and environmental justice at the legislative level.