Congressman Jerry McNerney discusses infrastructure and policy with civil engineering students.

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Engineering students discuss current issues with Congressman Jerry McNerney during campus visit

Apr 20, 2017

Civil engineering students heard about the importance of science in public policy and why engineers should take an active role in forming and providing input on legislation during a recent visit by Congressman Jerry McNerney of California's 9th congressional district.

McNerney spoke with the students in their Senior Capstone Design class on April 17, giving them an opportunity to hear from a current legislator and ask him about policies that affect them and their communities. McNerney, who has served in Congress since 2007, is also an engineer and energy specialist.

He shared a brief introduction about his background in mathematics and his work in renewable energy, and in particular wind energy. He told the students he became inspired to get involved in public service at the urging of his son, who had served in the military following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. 

"We need people who are scientifically literate to get involved," said McNerney. "I encourage you all to vote and participate."  

His experiences and advice kept the students engaged. Some of them shared how their senior projects, which include a tiny house and bridge project for the Cosumnes River area, related to policies he mentioned and asked what he was doing to help solve some of the complex problems they discussed. They asked him about how he was working to reduce homelessness, upgrade infrastructure and meet California's water needs. Their questions also included broader topics, such as climate change, maintaining net neutrality and recent legislation on Internet service providers (ISPs), and promoting the use of alternative energy sources.   

When students asked about resolving the excessive partisanship in politics, McNerney spoke about the importance of listening and building relationships, something that also applies to the workplace. 

Congressman McNerney has been a frequent visitor to the Stockton and San Francisco campuses for talks and special events. He also collaborated with Scott Larwood, associate professor of mechanical engineering, on a wind energy research article.

Congressman McNerney with students

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