When you graduate with an NRES degree from Purdue and you enter the working world, there is a high chance that your job will be working with dangerous chemicals and their cleanup. To be able to properly and safely handle these chemicals, you need to be trained and certified in Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response Standard (HAZWOPER) through OSHA. This is a 40-hour course that your workplace normally pays for and the training process would take up your entire first week. However, through the NRES program at Purdue, you can receive this training and certification at no cost in your last semester. This is very attractive two potential employers because it saves them money and reduces the amount of training you need as an employee.
The course that offers this certification, NRES 280, meets twice a week for an hour and fifteen minutes during the first ten weeks of the semester. However, there are two lab days where you take what you learn and find out what it’s actually like to be under certain conditions. Today was our first lab day, where we learned what it’s like to be in full HAZMAT suits and respirators (breathing devices). While we didn’t actually deal with any dangerous chemicals, we still learned a lot about what it’s like to be fully suited up. It’s definitely different! In the suits and respirators (and heavy boots) we had to do several different tasks while breathing and maintain composure. These include walking on a treadmill or elliptical for five minutes, looking up information on hazardous materials in the dark, and performing pH tests. All of these tasks were done with a normal respirator that simply filtered the air. However, for our last task we had to wear an oxygen tank that pumped air into our mouths. This was a lot different! We also had to wear two layers of gloves that reduced our dexterity to do one final task: put together a Lego car. When you have a heavy tank on your back and grasping tiny pieces is challenging, putting together Legos is incredibly difficult. However, I had a lot of fun doing it.
This course demonstrates on of my favorite things about the NRES program at Purdue. Not only do you do a lot of learning inside the classroom, you also get hands on experience doing things very relevant to your future careers. The skills and information that I have learned in my years here will definitely continue to be useful in my future career path.
I have no pictures right now, but if I get any I will definitely post some!
- Steve Lira