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Sustainability Guest Speakers: John Hake and Dante Rodriguez

Guest Speakers Panel: John Hake and Dante Rodriguez

December 1, 2016

The CES classroom #1 was full as the first semester Sustainability Guest Speaker Series came to a close on December 1, with a rich panel of O’Dowd parent and alumni expertise: Dante Rodriguez (O’Dowd Class of 1984 and O’Dowd parent) of the U.S. EPA, and John Hake (O’Dowd parent), of EBMUD. The panel session provided an engaging informational session on the successful treatment of wastewater, and cleaning up toxic Superfund sites.

John Hake kicked off the panel, sharing a great deal of knowledge and expertise from his 30 years of experience in the field of environmental engineering. Most recently, he’s focused on the intersection between sustainable wastewater treatment and renewable energy development, which is what his talk centered on. He introduced his topic by providing attendees with the imperative for why waste water treatment is so crucial to public health. Hake then discussed how EBMUD is using both solid and food waste to produce electricity through a complex anaerobic digester system. He explained how this technology is at the core of creating resilient and sustainable communities, and talked about pathways students could take in college and career to be involved in this industry.

Dante Rodriguez led the second half of the panel session, sharing his own experiences with growing up through late 60s and 70s and watching the environmental movement unfold in the United States. He shared how his spark for being involved in engineering began at O’Dowd’s Career Day, and how his interest in the EPA solidified during his studies at Stanford. Rodriguez then guided students through the complexities of identifying hazardous Superfund Sites, and the research and engineering it takes to clean up these sites. He also shared how important political, social and business awareness and careers are to this issue. The panel concluded with great student questions for both guest speakers.

Next semester will continue to feature a wealth of guest speakers, including O’Dowd alumni, parents and greater Bay Area community members. All of the O’Dowd community is invited to join us for these talks, and if you or someone you know is interested in speaking please reach out to Director of Sustainability, Andra Yeghoian.


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