Sustainable Spotlight: Faculty/ Staff
By Maggie Deely, Environmental Science Major
February 28, 2019
Dr. Colin Reagle is a mechanical engineering professor in the Volgenau School of Engineering (VSE). Reagle, who started teaching at George Mason University in 2014, was drawn to Mason by his connection to the area and having family who were Mason alums. Reagle says he enjoys teaching at VSE because he has had the unique opportunity to foster a new program and watch it grow. Since its launch in the Summer of 2014, said mechanical engineering program has had about 370 students, and Reagle says he is happy to now have the ability to impact close to 100 students each semester through VSE courses.
When introducing prospective students to the world of mechanical engineering Reagle says, “If it moves or uses energy, that’s mechanical engineering." Reagle is passionate not just about guiding his students to become engineers of the future, but to become leaders in the fields of energy and sustainability, and encourages his students to think holistically about what we are doing as a society in terms of sustainability. Reagle says, “Many topics I teach make students think about the whole picture, finding the best solution from a wide viewpoint." Though his key sustainability focus concerns renewable energy, he realizes there is more to sustainability than just renewables. For instance, he urges students to not just consider the short-term costs or cheapest sources when designing and building, but to understand what resources will be most beneficial and sustainable in the long run. He notes that mechanical engineers working in the field have tremendous influence over what materials are used in the construction of objects and how they are manufactured.
Currently Dr. Reagle is mentoring student design teams, including one team looking into solving the problem of energy loss from buildings on campus. He says the students are working towards using infrared cameras to quantify energy loss, which will allow them to eventually analyze not just energy but monetary losses.
When Reagle was informed that he had won Mason's Outstanding Achievement Award for Sustainability Hero he said he was a bit surprised. “I’ve always gone about things in the moment for the sake of my program and the people around me." While his family and colleagues have been very supportive and congratulatory, he says this award doesn’t change his focus. He stated that he will not dwell on it instead choosing to focus on continuing his work with students, whether through the Patriot Green Fund or teaching and mentoring students.
For more information on Dr. Reagle and his research, click here.
Photos by Creative Services, George Mason University. Edited by Amber Saxton.