Engineering for Social Impact: The Path of Runako Gentles
Runako Gentles, a junior at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), is a shining example of how engineering can be used to achieve social impact. His story highlights how a desire to make a difference, coupled with support from family and teachers, can shape an individual’s career path.
From Campion College to MIT
Gentles grew up in Jamaica, where his extended family instilled in him the values of faith and the importance of striving for greatness. He attended Campion College, a prestigious Jesuit high school for academically high-achieving students in Jamaica. While there, he excelled in his studies and was the valedictorian of his class. His love for biology and chemistry led him to explore a career in medicine, but a chance encounter with a neurosurgeon and participation in the Student Program for Innovation, Science, and Engineering (SPISE) changed his path forever.
SPISE was a residential summer program designed to expose Caribbean students to careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). It was modeled after MIT’s Minority Introduction to Engineering and Science (MITES) program and was led by Cardinal Warde, a professor of electrical engineering at MIT who is also from the Caribbean. Gentles shone in the program, winning one of its highest honors for demonstrating overall excellence and leadership. It was at SPISE that he first developed an interest in engineering and decided to pursue it at MIT.
Engineering for Social Impact
Gentles’ journey to engineering was not just about technical knowledge; it was a conscious decision to use engineering to make a meaningful change in society. He wanted to address the root causes of deaths, illnesses, and poor quality of life for billions of people. He found a natural fit in civil and environmental engineering, which allowed him to have a big-picture mindset of thinking about how technology affects the environment and ultimately society.
Gentles spent his first semester at MIT as a remote student due to the Covid pandemic. He participated in Introduction to Civil and Environmental Engineering Research during the January Independent Activities Period where he worked on a research project analyzing earthquake data using machine learning. He later joined Desiree Plata’s lab for another undergraduate research opportunity project, analyzing diesel range organic compounds in water samples collected from shallow groundwater sources near hydraulic fracking sites in West Virginia.
Runako Gentles’ story is one of inspiration and determination. His journey into engineering is a clear example of how a passion for making a difference can shape one’s career path. His focus on the intersection of technology and social impact is something that all aspiring engineers can learn from.
– Civil and environmental engineering is a field that focuses on the design, construction, and maintenance of infrastructure that affects society and the environment.
– The Minority Introduction to Engineering and Science (MITES) program is a summer program designed to expose high school seniors from underrepresented communities to engineering and science.
– The Student Program for Innovation, Science, and Engineering (SPISE) is a residential summer program designed to expose Caribbean students to careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
Runako Gentles is an inspiring example of how engineering can be used to achieve social impact. His journey highlights the importance of having a passion for making a difference and the critical role of mentors and programs that can inspire and guide individuals towards their goals. As engineering continues to shape our world, it is vital that young people like Gentles continue to be motivated to use their skills and knowledge to create a better future for all.