• Tristan Walker

Behind My First Step

My name is Tristan Walker. Currently in 2018 and I am enrolled in my third year of aerospace engineering at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. I can honestly say I chose engineering mainly to avoid having to ever write again. But here we are.

At some point I was listening to a podcast and the guest brought up a great point that really resonated with me. I don't have the exact quote, but it was something along the lines of "Every generation has their problem; there were the wars, the recessions, the suffragettes and the abolition of slavery. Our generation has been tasked with the environment. Now, we can complain that the older generations screwed us over, or we can take responsibility and start doing something about it." Hearing this, I started thinking about what I could do. I have been lucky enough to grow up in one of the most beautiful places in the world; it wouldn’t be fair if that was taken away from people in the future through our ineptitude. If I could contribute on even the smallest of scales, at least it would be something. This was the birth of “Step3”.

I can remember the moment I started upon the specifics of the "Step3Project". A tutorial session for Dynamics of Machinery. Let’s just say the material wasn’t really that interesting so I was using my time to do other things. I had just finished designing the most expensive Tacoma possible on the Toyota website and decided to look into engineering jobs. After a bit of searching, I came across wind farm engineering and immediately became fascinated with the idea. After talking to some profs about it, I was lucky enough to get set up with someone who was involved with a small wind farm off the coast of Nova Scotia and had a fairly lengthy email conversation about the engineering possibilities. The extended amount of time away from any offices was the main draw. This was huge for me. I had given up my co op position for the summer of 2018 to go back to BC and work for the Forest Service fighting wildfires. I did this because being stuck under fluorescent lights is something of an anathema to me and the forest service allows me to get away from that. Finding a career that offered me the same benefits that would be incredible!

Starting my own business has always been a dream of mine and I have had multiple ideas throughout school but nothing I could really justify investing in. One model that had always been attractive to me was selling products with a story. Everyone and their dog can design something, but if you can give someone a reason to buy it, that makes all the difference.

Initially if I could create a product that could bring attention to wind farms, it would be a good way to get break into the world of wind farm engineering. After dwelling on it for a while though I decided that it would be much more effective if I could expand my ideas to include other forms of renewable energy generation depending on the location. It didn't have to be huge scale either, if I could add a couple solar panels here, a water turbine there it would still help the movement towards clean energy. I had an idea of what I would want the logo to look like. The name on the other hand took months. I was constantly sending name ideas to various editors and having them get rejected for one reason or another. One day I did a bunch of math and figured out that 1 watt of energy generation costs about $3.33. At that price, people could maximize their contribution to 3 watts without making any of the clothing overly expensive due to the donation attached. I had also done some thinking and decided I wanted a name that would indicate progress and an effort to improve. This all bubbled down to sending “Step3” in for review to my friendly editor. It came back positive. “Step3Project” it is. The "project” part came solely from the fact that this is going to be an ongoing effort and we will all be helping do whatever we can. From there it was onto creating a website and designing the clothes. I have to thank all my friends and family for putting up with me constantly asking for input and editing so I could get this off the ground. It took a surprising amount of work and I got lucky enough to connect with an awesome phone case company from Alberta and a screen printing shop here in Ottawa that would be able to give me good rates. I chose a clothing manufacturer that would stay consistent with our environmental image but also provided very comfortable and stylish clothes. Once I had this network setup I took my first step and launched; the rest is history from there.

I have so many people to thank for helping me grow as a person and giving me the foundation to be able to set out on this journey. I count myself incredibly lucky to have such strong, driven and caring people in my life.

Thank you for reading about my journey and I hope this can help you appreciate your world and inspire you to take your own first step, wherever it may lead.