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Patrick Lyons knew he wanted to join the Master of Science in Sustainability graduate program “the minute he heard rumors about the program developing.” Patrick was completing his final semester of undergraduate work at EIU and he had already applied for admission to the Master of Science program in Technology Management when he heard about the newly developed masters program.
In 2012, Patrick graduated from EIU with a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Technology with a concentration in Construction. He grew up in Lockport, Illinois, lived in the same house his entire life and attended high school in Lockport. During high school, he worked part-time as laborer on various construction projects ranging from general remodeling to new construction. So, it made sense that he would continue his education in construction. But the tenacity of the construction business and his interest in renewable energy steered him in a different direction. Patrick states, “I just kept thinking about the houses we were renovating and asking myself how they could be more energy efficient.”
Patrick states that “As a construction major I found that learning things in the classroom and being able to apply them to real world applications has made a strong foundation for the tasks that will be ahead of me in the future.” During his undergraduate work at EIU, Patrick states that the faculty and staff in Klehm Hall inspired him to continue his educational career. Patrick also states that “the courses that I have taken in Klehm Hall have enabled me to be a problem solver, have integrative learning skills that include hands-on-work, and know that what I have learned will be applied in the job that I hope to have in the future.”
Patrick had set his course. Soon, he would have his Bachelor of Science degree and move on to graduate school. However, during his senior year, Patrick’s father died and it seemed as if everything became harder. He’d missed classes and fallen behind and he wasn’t sure if he could return to Eastern and finish his undergraduate degree and go on to graduate school. His father was a coach for the Lockport Boys Baseball team and had always been proud of Patrick’s drive for school. Patrick states that “When the idea of graduate school was brought up, his father was more than enthusiastic.” Patrick continues by stating that “a great quote by Jim Valvano that I read says, ‘My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me.’ Since I have been back to school I have put lots of effort to make up for my time away and to make him proud.” But he wasn’t alone. Patrick’s mother and family supported him during this time as well, letting him know how important it was to continue his studies. Patrick states, “Although it hasn’t been easy, I have ended up on top. I have taken their beliefs in my success and turned them into just that. With this said, I am going to continue to succeed.”
That desire to succeed motivated Patrick to consider two masters degrees. A Master of Science in Technology would meet his management goals but until this point he was unsure how he wanted to apply the skills he had learned over the last several years. Patrick states, “A Master of Science in Sustainability tied all of his interest together.” Immediately, he met with Dr. Liu, Graduate Coordinator for the Master of Science in Sustainability program and the Director of the Center for Clean Energy Research and Education (CENCERE), to find out what he needed to do to be one of the first students to go through the dual degree program for a Master of Science in Sustainability and an Master of Science in Technology.
Since Patrick began his graduate studies in 2012, he has been involved in biomass renewable energy research at EIU. As a graduate assistant under the direction of Dr. Peter Ping Liu, Patrick works in the Scanning Microscopy Laboratory where he assists in concrete testing, including a mix of REC ash and Portland cement, as well as pelletizing recycled feedstocks and research on Miscanthus grasses.
As well as, completing a practicum at EIU’s Renewable Energy Center, Patrick’s focus on sustainable energy has been reinforced by classes in Biomass Gasification, Bioenergy and Bioresources. He has received the Distinguished Graduate Award from the School of Technology in Spring 2013 and has made several presentations concerning his research in sustainable energy. These include both the Student Research Symposium and the Graduate Expo and Research Poster and Digital Presentation Exhibit. Most notably, he presented a paper titled “A Thermal Efficiency Comparison Model for Different Biomass Fuel on a Laboratory Scale Gasifier” at the American Chemical Society National Meeting and Exposition in Spring 2013 and a made a presentation on pellet mill processing at the ATMAE Conference in November 2013. Most recently, Patrick has been working on a project in which he will investigate adaptive technologies for using sustainable Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). This will allow him apply project management skills to develop a product that can be used for land surveying EIU’s biomass farm plots located just north of the EIU Renewable Energy Center.
Patrick’s dual degrees, a MS in Technology and a MS in Sustainability, make him uniquely qualified for numerous opportunities. Patrick states, “I love working with my hands and building things, but I also love to be a part of a team and working together to accomplish goals. At the same time, renewable/sustainable energy concepts were also introduced in my undergraduate classes and I was fascinated with the new development destined to happen in the near future. I want to use the skills I have learned in each one of these degrees in tandem and apply them to a job, or potentially many jobs, correlated with sustainability, management and construction. I feel as though this combination will be perfect for my personality and career goals, and I will enjoy the work I am faced with.”
Connie Buchenroth - School of Technology, EIU
Patrick Lyons is one of the first students in the dual degree program for a Master of Science in Sustainability and an Master of Science in Technology.