Aaron Greenfield was awarded the Recycling Research Foundation's Photo: Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries
Aaron Greenfield was awarded the Recycling Research Foundation’s 2013 National Scholarship. Photo: Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries

The nonprofit Recycling Research Foundation (RRF) recently announced Aaron Greenfield as the recipient of its 2013 National Scholarship.

Recognizing the need for an affordable graduate education, the scholarship awards $5,000 to an individual seeking a graduate degree in a field that supports the scrap processing and recycling industry.

“The Recycling Research Foundation is proud to honor Aaron Greenfield with this scholarship as he pursues an education that will well-prepare him for a future in the recycling industry,” said Robin Wiener, president of the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), which is closely tied to the nonprofit foundation. “One of the goals of this scholarship is to generate interest in recycling careers and there is no doubt that with the knowledge he gains from his education, Aaron will be able to make significant contributions to the aerospace recycling industry.”

Chosen from a long list of applicants, Greenfield showed unique promise in the ever-changing scrap metal recycling sphere. So who is Aaron Greenfield, and how will he do his part to change the scrap recycling industry? Earth911 did a little research to find out.

Who is Aaron Greenfield?

With interests ranging from robotics and artificial intelligence to aerospace, Greenfield currently spends his days designing helicopter flight-control systems at Sikorsky Aircraft.

He is also a 2014 Master of Environmental Science candidate at Yale University. Prior to Yale, Greenfield received a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Stanford University and a master’s degree in robotics from Carnegie Mellon University.

The aerospace whiz worked on two major research thrusts while at Yale. The first focused on the increasing use of metal resources over time in the aerospace, electronic and medical sectors. The second thrust, which he is currently working on for his master’s thesis, is a study of the superalloy recycling industry.

In his award-winning essay, Greenfield wrote, “As population and affluence have grown, and continue to grow into the future, constraints on available resources will play a crucial role in defining the prospects and prosperity of our society. Within this broad topic, I would like to understand and help alleviate metal resource constraints by improving metal recycling rates.”

Future plans and next steps in scrap recycling

When asked about his future plans, Greenfield said he would like to continue to focus on metal-resource waste management and recycling after graduating from Yale — concentrating on the aerospace sector and building on his thesis work.

While the scrap recycling will likely change in the coming years, Greenfield surely has his finger on the pulse of the industry, and we’ll likely hear his name again in the near future.

The next RRF scholarship recipient will be announced later this year. Since 2002, the organization has awarded more than $790,000 in scholarships to more than 600 students, ensuring many bright minds in the future of scrap recycling.

Related: Study: Nearly Half a Million U.S. Jobs in Scrap Metal Recycling

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By Mary Mazzoni

Mary is a lifelong vegetarian and enjoys outdoor activities like hiking, biking and relaxing in the park. When she’s not outside, she’s probably watching baseball. She is a former assistant editor for Earth911.