Elaine Rippon

The creative environmentalist

How many people can say the highlights of their university education included hurtling downhill in a 300-pound concrete toboggan on national television with comedian Rick Mercer?

Elaine Rippon (Civil ’11) isn’t dismissing this as an insignificant event, but as a student she kept her eyes on the prize and says her degree and new career are beyond compare.

Rippon was interested in the design aspects of engineering but when she entered the civil engineering environmental option program, everything came together.

“In my first year, I was really interested in the design aspects of engineering, but environmental is also a very creative program,” she says.

Rippon also found challenges and rewards in student activities. As captain of the U of A’s Great Northern Concrete Toboggan Race team, she learned about project management. Her team hosted over 400 students from across the country for the national championships. Her team’s toboggan was piloted by Mercer, who featured the race on national television.

Rippon also volunteered as a mentor for girls interested in engineering and science.

“When you volunteer at university, you aren’t just going to school. You get a sense of community; you see how the university is impacting young women. It’s more than book learning: you see the bigger picture.”

Today, Rippon is beginning her career as an engineer-in-training with Alberta Environment’s cumulative effects program, which monitors the cumulative impacts of industrial activity on the province. And she is loving it.

“Environmental engineering kind of fell in my lap,” she said. “I am so happy with the degree and with the program, I can’t think of anything better.”