Hello! My name is Charlie Ruschke and I’m a rising senior at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. I live in Chicago, Illinois and I’m pursuing a degree in Chemical Engineering. I was attracted to the Sextant Foundation because of the work they do in pursuing green energy projects. I worked on several projects for the Sextant Foundation. I tested ideas for Reimagining+ Racial Justice in Healthcare with real people to identify if our solutions would make an actual impact (e.g., if they would promote trust between patient and physician). I organized the designs and ideas of the NICU workshop teams and drafted content to be displayed on the Sextant Foundation website. I researched emission for composting for the M+ Wastecare calculator by exploring literature, databases and life cycle analysis tools. I also attended AMR meetings from the DoE to explore emerging hydrogen technology and created a Hydrogen 101 presentation. When I wasn’t volunteering for the Sextant Foundation this summer I was drawing in my sketchbook, playing video games or enjoying Lake Michigan!
What projects did you find the most opportunity to learn from and explore?
Finding composting emissions for the M+ WasteCare Calculator and Hydrogen in Healthcare were two projects that I really enjoyed working on. They opened doors for me to ask questions and to do research for myself and in the process I really learned a lot of information not only on the subjects but also on how data is collected and what considerations are made when trying to implement new technology, a lot of which I now feel comfortable talking about with people much more knowledgeable than me.
Which facet of Sextant are you most attracted to (healthcare, engineering, workshops, nonprofit, etc)? Why is that?
As someone pursuing a career in Chemical Engineering I was definitely most attracted to the engineering facet of Sextant. It was fun to experience for the first time a multidisciplinary field and to some extent see what roles people filled and where the opportunity was for people to come together.
What has been your most challenging task working with Sextant?
My biggest challenge was definitely learning the Human Centered Design process. I’m still not convinced that I can properly conduct this, especially as I watch my mentor navigate a conversation with ease while asking thoughtful questions. It’s definitely something that intrigues me and I hope that when I’m no longer volunteering with Sextant that I’ll get the chance to work on that skill again, or at the very least I’ll be able to identify an appropriate situation to practice it in.
Do you feel connected to other volunteers and Sextant staff?
Yes, I felt very connected while working for the Sextant Foundation. It felt very much like my co-worker and mentors were working together and utilizing each other's strengths to accomplish projects. I felt comfortable asking my mentors for their opinion even on projects with fairly open objectives instead of feeling that I had to figure things out for myself.
What concepts do you see as being the driving force of Sextant’s work?
I’m not sure if I can speak on behalf of all of Sextant, but for me, curiosity was a large driver. While working on my own, I was encouraged to not only finish my project, but to explore avenues that interested me. Additionally, there is a great opportunity to reach out to others and to learn from their perspectives. It’s hard not to be curious when everyone is so passionate about what they do.