Rebecca Wentworth

Schenectady, NY, United States

About Rebecca

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Languages

Chinese, English, French

Areas of Expertise

Mechanical Engineering (Materials)

An idea worth spreading

Making plastic bags into tarps with cost-effective energy and promoting entrepreneurship along the way.

I'm passionate about

My social venture that I am starting this year! And paying off my college loans.

Universities

Union College (NY)

People don't know I'm good at

Singing opera and baking pies, occasionally at the same time!

Favorite talks

Comments & conversations

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Rebecca Wentworth
Posted over 2 years ago
Mike Biddle: We can recycle plastic
I'm glad the sentiment is there for Mike Biddle and all of the commentators above, however I am far from impressed with the so-called solutions presented. Although I concede that he is taking correct steps towards proper recycling, by sorting by type and grade, and pelletizing the material which allows greater latitude for production, he fails to mention the biggest problem with recycling plastic: needing virgin plastic. When plastic is recycled it has become exposed to both macro and micro stresses, for example being stretched or exposed to UV rays. This breaks down some of the molecular bonds within the plastic, and even re-melting and re-forming the material does not allow it to retain all of the characteristics that it once held. You may think that this is not that big of a deal, a plastic bag that's not a s strong only means you double-bag it right? Consider all of the things in your life that you would not like to fail: the PVC pipe that connects to your faucet, fittings in your car... The truth is the plastics end up becoming objects with less inherent value, because other additives must be included into the recycled objects in order to make them stronger. When you add things to plastics, you can't get them out. The Aquafina water bottle you just guzzled will turn into a Patagonia pullover that will last maybe 7-8 years but at the end of its lifetime it is nothing more than a piece of scrap clothing: it cannot be recycled back into plastic. Furthermore, commentators have also suggested recycling in low-cash-income countries to recycle things like plastic bottles into rain gutters etc. Let me tell you something: people who are poor like nice things too, they just don't have the cash for it. Would you want a rain gutter flapping around in the rain attached to YOUR house, not to mention the quality of rainwater is very low. Go ahead and be inspired by TEDtalks, but please don't wantonly praise efforts without understanding the full implications.
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Rebecca Wentworth
Posted almost 3 years ago
What is the most effective way to increase the living standard of people in developing countries, in relation to engineering?
There are many venues to pursue! This is something that I have been passionate about, and I'm so happy that another person relayed that taking a practical approach (engineering) to solving international development problems is a valid route. In my experience I have identified two major routes towards combining the two: civil and industrial design. However, I am in mechanical engineering with a specialty in materials, and have managed just fine. Civil engineering because many of the projects that would improve social and economic living standards are in implementing infrastructure such as roads, water systems and purifications, sewage etc. It's not glamorous but they are the veins of a society that is developed. Industrial design is another route I think that is equally valid, as it addresses specific needs for populations. This is the direction that I have started to pursue, especially in building looking at social enterprises. I'm modeling a plan for my business after individuals like Paul Polak of IDE or Kickstart. They have created tools to economically help people improve their own living standards in a sustainable manner. There are other ways, but these two really stand out. Furthermore, I would suggest pursuing Chinese, French, and Spanish. A lot of investment is coming from China into development projects in developing countries and it has been very useful to me. French and Spanish are also main languages in many of these countries and are exceedingly beneficial. Hope that helps!