Already ten years post-graduation, Kristi Miller (NRCM ’04) has her hands full working as the Environmental Manager for Rollcast Energy in Charlotte, NC. Rollcast Energy is a company that develops power plants that run off of renewable fuel resources, such as waste wood. The waste wood that is used for fuel would otherwise be landfilled or possibly left on the forest floor, which could become hazardous. Her position requires her to oversee all water, land, and air resources at all of the company’s power plants.

Kristi described her job as mainly focusing on air permitting, since woody biomass power plants have emissions that are regulated by state and federal agencies.  However, she also oversees storm water permitting and management, wastewater, stream buffers, ecological resources, wetland permitting, and she even brokers deals to find end uses for the wood ash once it’s been combusted! Such a long list of responsibilities may sound daunting, but for her it is exactly why she loves the position. She even said, “What I love about this job is having my hands in many activities at once.  I am managing all of the environmental resources on several different development projects and existing assets.”

Being passionate about her career has certainly paid off, quite literally. Kristi recently applied for a Woody Biomass Utilization Grant through the US Forest Service and won $250,000 for her company to go towards development of their newest power plant.  The plant will use 500,000 tons per year of tree waste around the Atlanta, GA area to produce clean energy.

The application process for such a large grant required multiple written proposals, which is why Kristi could not stress enough how important it is for students to develop their writing skills. She highlighted, ”Whether it be writing a technical report for a field study you performed, writing a grant application, writing a letter to a regulatory agency, or writing that killer cover letter that lands you the job you want, it is essential that you write it well.” In addition, she recommends students take business courses, consider a minor in business, or even get an MBA. To put it in perspective, she said, “Any place you go to work will be a business and if you want to climb your way to the top, you have to understand how that business works.” From her experience, she feels it is much easier to get noticed by potential employers if you have a technical undergraduate degree coupled with an MBA, but even without the degree just having some knowledge about it will surely help.

Kristi’s favorite thing about the NRCM program was that it had a great balance between classroom work and hands-on experience. After all, many jobs in the environmental field require both office time and fieldwork and the disciplines are very interconnected. That’s why students should take advantage of every opportunity that the NRES program has to offer!

To learn more about renewable energy resources, visit the company’s website at: