Iowa State University (Ames, Iowa)
Chemical Engineering (Undergrad)
You could say John Cramsey has jumped on the “biodiesel bus” — both literally and figuratively. Before becoming a co-chair of the Next Generation Scientists for Biodiesel, he served as president of the BioBus Club as an undergrad at Iowa State University.
Students in the club travel to local dining centers on campus, collect used fryer oil, and convert it into biodiesel using their own reactor. Once the process is completed, the product goes to the university’s bus system to help fuel the “CyRide” buses on campus and in the Ames, Iowa community.
BioBus has also recently started an outreach program for local elementary and high school students, and even some who are in college. The program demonstrates how to produce biodiesel and informs students on its usefulness.
The club has given John, a chemical engineering major, some hands-on experience in producing the fuel, but he first became interested in biodiesel during high school when working on science fair projects.
“I really enjoyed working with various types of renewable energy such as solar and hydrogen energy, but biodiesel really stuck out to me my senior year,” John says. “I find it amazing that we can take waste products, or byproduct oils from plants, and convert them into fuel that can be used immediately in vehicles and other engines. I like how, unlike other fuels, we don’t have to change much infrastructure or buy entirely different vehicles to use biodiesel.”
At ISU, he says he has taken enough chemical engineering courses to know what aspects of the field he enjoys and believes that a future career in biodiesel would be quite fulfilling. On this path, he earned an NGSB scholarship to attend the National Biodiesel Conference & Expo in 2020.
“The conference experience helped me learn more about the biodiesel industry, and the unique challenges our scientists and engineers face daily,” he says. “It was probably the biggest eye opener regarding the economics of biodiesel, and how truly viable the fuel is.”
Thanks to his connections through the Next Generation Scientists for Biodiesel program, John landed a summer job with AGP, a biodiesel producer and soybean processor in Iowa.
“This summer job gave me a better idea of how a soybean processing plant works,” he says. “But most importantly, an opportunity like this could get my foot in the door with AGP for a potential internship or job in the coming years.”
John says he wanted to become an NGSB co-chair to build on his passion for biodiesel, get to know leaders in the biodiesel field and increase his networking for future career opportunities.
The National Biodiesel Board is funded in part by the United Soybean Board and state soybean board checkoff programs.