Fangmann makes sustainable impact with Udall Scholarship

Elizabeth Polsdofer

For a finalist for the “Next Eco-Star” competition and a student leader in sustainability, senior in industrial engineering Casey Fangmann is very modest about his accomplishments.

Fangmann is the recipient of the Udall Scholarship, named only to outstanding student leaders in sustainability and Native American culture advocacy.

“I personally don’t consider what I’ve done to be at all out of the ordinary; it’s just something that I’ve really had a passion for and something that I’ve really enjoyed being involved with,” Fangmann said. “So to me, I guess I’m just surprised that what I am passionate in doing, other people recognize as being a really significant contribution to the university and to environmentalism in general.”

Fangmann caught the eye of Merry Rankin, director of sustainability at Iowa State, when Fangmann became involved with sustainability as a freshman.

“He was very passionate and very visionary with respect to the areas that he felt the university had opportunities to be more involved in sustainability, and also his concern for the things he wasn’t seeing more of and one of things had to do with recycling,” Rankin said. “So I was very struck by how passionate he was, how articulate he was and how engaged he was for a freshman.”

Fangmann has been in several leadership positions in sustainability advocacy groups on campus and has advocated for more sustainable practices at Iowa State.

Upon graduation, Fangmann will apply his passion for sustainability to Rockwell Collins in the industrial environment.

“What I want to focus on … is making an impact in industrial energy consumption and energy waste,” said Fangmann. “So what the industrial engineering degree allows me to do is it allows me to have the understanding of the complexities of the industrial environment and how energy plays a role within the manufacturing process. It gives me the tools to be able to find and eliminate energy waste associated with those processes.”

Before he joins the Rockwell Collins team, Fangmann will spend another year at Iowa State and receive a minor in sustainability.

“As part of the scholarship eligibility you have to have a full year of school left. I was originally planning on graduating next fall, so I’ll be actually be staying another semester, and with that additional semester I am going to pick up a minor in sustainability,” Fangmann said. “So it worked out really nicely to be able to kind of cap off my academic career by being able to have that opportunity to pick up that minor.”

Although Fangmann has demonstrated a large commitment to sustainability, the Udall Scholarship will be very instrumental on showcasing his years of dedication.

“The Udall is a very recognizable scholarship, so wherever I want to go work and make sustainable changes within industry, that scholarship is really going to help give me credibility as to saying that I have tools, the skills, the drive, the passion to make those changes in whatever field I decide to work in,” said Fangmann.

Rankin commented on how fortunate it was for Fangmann to receive such a scholarship as the Udall. 

“A scholarship certainly is competitive, but this one is very competitive at a national level. It really puts the top student leaders that are working within this field together,” Rankin said.

“I know that Casey has made just an incredible impact and has already left a legacy at Iowa State, and he hasn’t even graduated yet. He’s already left a legacy; he left a legacy as a freshman.”