Generous Equipment Donations Help CELS Students Prepare for the Workforce

Professor Corey Briggs knew he faced a significant financial challenge in 2013 when he created the Environmental Hazards, Risks, Response, and Safety course at the University of Rhode Island College of the Environment and Life Sciences (CELS) on a shoestring budget. It was clear that three-thousand-dollars wouldn’t be enough to obtain the proper equipment to ensure his students received the hands-on training they needed to be workforce ready. Briggs went to work looking for creative ways to supplement his budget including reconditioning and repurposing equipment from Brown University that was originally destined for the landfill. “I even got my dry cleaner to provide 26 laundry bags that the students use as their personal safety gear bags for the class,” says Briggs, an adjunct assistant professor of the Department of Geosciences.

Six years later, thanks to the generosity of several regional, national, and international donors, the 13-week course (GEO 587/EVS 587) has flourished. “I am guessing we now have an excess of fifty-thousand dollars’ worth of materials, equipment, and supplies to support the class,” says Briggs.      

And the generosity doesn’t stop there.  Three major companies: 3M, mPower Electronics, and GVS Group recently donated equipment to CELS to support students in the class.  3M donated respiratory protective devices, mPower contributed a state-of-the-art photoionization meter, and GVS Group donated respirators, filters, and storage cases to CELS.

“Our donors and vendors are essential to making this course a success,” says Briggs. “We really have no formal equipment budget to speak of other than a small student equipment fee for expendables, so we do whatever we can to get donations of various equipment, materials, and supplies.”

The Environmental Hazards, Risks, Response, and Safety course helps prepare students who are interested in pursuing careers in the environmental sciences by providing them with extensive knowledge in environmental, health, and safety hazards, risks, and controls as well as hands-on experience with materials, equipment, and supplies that are used in the environmental services industry. The class also gives students an opportunity to earn multiple certifications that are essential for obtaining jobs in environmental service-related fields and an opportunity to network with professionals in the public and private sector.

 “After completing this course, they can basically enter the workplace with a good understanding of the importance of personal health and safety when working in hazardous environments, so their prospective employer will not have to invest in additional training,” says Briggs, who also works as a senior consultant with the Health, Safety, and Environmental Consulting firm Colden Corporation.

The equipment donated to the course over the past six years has been invaluable in helping students gain practical skills. Thanks to the contributions of cutting-edge safety equipment from 3M, mPower Electronics, and GVS Group, students in the course will have a competitive edge as they prepare to enter the workforce.