A Non-Engineering Path: Greenpeace

            It's not every day that you find an email in your inbox that reads, "I'm on board a Greenpeace ship right now (the Rainbow Warrior III) in the Atlantic, will be back on shore in a few days." I had been looking forward to learning more about John Rosenwinkel, who just completed his coursework at Olin this past December, but upon receiving this email I knew I was in for an interesting and exciting conversation.


            Just to provide some background - background I did not have when I went into my Skype chat with John - Greenpeace is an international organization that runs campaigns related to the environment. Among other things, Greenpeace does research, puts out reports, and does a lot of organizing and training. It also participates in direct action, which is carried out by the actions team. Actions are done to raise awareness of major environmental issues, to communicate directly with members of the government or employees of a corporation, and sometimes even to prevent environmental damage, such as when the ships go out to the Mediterranean and try to prevent overfishing of tuna. As John expresses it, "there are lots of ways to work towards social change," and Greenpeace has a unique style of going about it.

John first got involved with Greenpeace during his LOA (leave of absence) in the spring of 2010. He had an adventure-filled internship with the actions team, where he spent four months in DC, then went to San Francisco and Seattle for about a month, and then boarded one of Greenpeace's ships in Barcelona and traveled across the ocean to Florida, where the ship did research related to the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

After Olin, John returned to Greenpeace as a volunteer, doing boat training on the Rainbow Warrior III as mentioned above. He also went down to Florida to help out with a huge training camp, teaching those not affiliated with Greenpeace about industrial climbing, boating, and blockades. 

John will now be working for Greenpeace for the next three to six months. He is theoretically based out of one of the Greenpeace warehouses, but the day-to-day work varies. He finds himself traveling a lot, keeping the warehouse in order, maintaining equipment, and bringing it to and from places. He also sits in on technical trainings that allow him to participate in actions and prepare him for one day becoming a trainer himself. Having a background in mechanical engineering also allows him to do some engineering-related jobs at times, such as welding and fabrication of "random mechanical things."

If a full-time job opens up at Greenpeace, John would be interested in applying, but for the time being he is looking for other opportunities after his few months at Greenpeace are over. He wishes to spend some more time in India doing ADE (Affordable Design & Entrepreneurship - Olin class where students do real development work)-related things, such as teaching or working with an NGO (non-governmental organization).

            John strongly encourages students to consider taking a LOA or studying abroad. He explains, "I really think I learned and grew more in my semester away from school than I did from my eight semesters at Olin. I learned so much from so many wonderful people about things that I had never really thought much about."

It was a different experience talking to John, who has taken a path completely different from the engineering trail of Olin. John says he "would love more Oliners to know about some of the non-engineering things that are out there," and it seems Greenpeace is a great example of a different path that still embodies the Olin way of 'doing something' and making a change in the world.

Posted in: A Broader World View, A Different Path, Alumni Speak