Clara Hahn '22

Hometown: Lake Wylie, SC
Major: Engineering


Clara Hahn
Clara Hahn

Clara Hahn '22 laughs when asked what drew her to Dartmouth. "I decided I wanted to go to Dartmouth when I was seven! It was Dr. Seuss Day, and we were doing a lesson on him in school … I decided I wanted to go to Dartmouth then because Dr. Seuss went there!" 

As a young adult, Clara was also impressed by the attitude around education that she felt when she visited campus. She says that at many of the colleges she toured, the approach to learning felt very formal. "But I could see that there was a lot of excitement around learning at Dartmouth…it was celebratory and fun." 

Making an Impact

Her Dartmouth studies also highlighted the impact her engineering work could have. "Dartmouth's engineering program is really project based and puts so much emphasis on reflection and understanding the impact of your work," she says. She quickly began to see the connection between the work she was doing in her classes and its impact on the world, and after taking several environmental engineering classes with Thayer Professor Benoit Cushman-Roisin, energy's role in a more sustainable world came into sharp focus for her. 

As a senior, Clara worked on two energy-specific projects with the Irving Institute. For her ENGS 89/90 class, a two-term, project-based learning experience that matches seniors with an industry client, Clara was part of a team that worked to help increase the energy efficiency of the indoor cannabis cultivation industry. The team, advised by Institute Senior Advisor Stephen Doig, arrived at a solution that could result in a 50% reduction in electricity use at the client's facility. 

Additionally, Clara was a member of a Design Corps team contracted by the Irving Institute and Dartmouth Sustainability Office to help develop a strategy for engaging students in the new Irving Institute building, which opened in March 2022. Design Corps, part of the Design Initiative at Dartmouth program, partners student groups with campus clients to improve some aspect of life at the College. Clara and the team spent two terms surveying Dartmouth students and analyzing their responses to advise the Institute and Sustainability on ways to ensure that students would see the new facility as a welcoming, productive, and vibrant space to study and collaborate. While she had worked on a lot of energy and sustainability projects during her time as a student, "it was really cool to have a chance to work with the Irving Institute directly," says Clara. 

After Commencement, Clara will head to Charlotte, NC for the summer to intern with a steel manufacturing company that is developing a more sustainable type of steel. In the fall, she'll return to Hanover to complete her Masters in Engineering Management degree. 

Energy Connects to Everything

When asked what advice she has for incoming Dartmouth students, Clara stresses the importance of staying open to as many perspectives as possible. "My most successful work and where I have felt most fulfilled," she reflects, "is when I have worked with people who have very different experiences than I do or who study different things… you realize that everything is connected in some way and listening to people who know more than you do about certain things can strengthen your perspective and lead to stronger solutions." She adds, "energy plays into that – if you think about how many fields connect to energy – policy, technology, finance — it is one of those conversations where everyone has experience, information, expertise to contribute."