February 22, 2011

Michael Browne Works to Replace Fishing Weights

"Wentworth's electromechanical engineering program gives me the base to do aerospace engineering and it gives me alternatives."

Michael Browne, BELM ’15, doesn’t remember much from his time on stage with George W. Bush at the Rose Garden.  On Earth day in 2008, Browne accepted the President’s Environmental Youth Award for work he had done on an Eagle Scout project, regarding eco-friendly fishing weights.  “Being on stage and meeting the president is all kind of a blur to me,” said Browne.

Browne’s mission is to replace lead fishing weights with tin ones in an attempt to create a healthier environment for sea life.  Fish and waterfowl will eat lead sinkers and eventually get lead poisoning, resulting in damages to their physical and mental states. These types of injuries hinder their ability to defend themselves against predators.

Browne has also gained recognition from The New York Times in a recent profile about his successful project. While in high school, Browne and his project partners were given a $10,000 grant from SeaWorld and Anheuser Busch to put towards their venture.

Browne said the project has helped him learn problem-solving skills, improve communication with others and understand how small businesses work—crucial elements for someone who wants to create their own aerospace engineering company.

“Eventually I’d like to start my own business building spacecrafts,” said Browne. “Wentworth’s electromechanical engineering program gives me the base to do aerospace engineering and it gives me alternatives.”

Browne plans to continue the tin weight project throughout his time at the Institute. Every summer he and his partners set up a booth at local fishing derbies hoping to inspire a “greener” way to participate in the sport. They offer fisherman an opportunity to trade their lead weights in for tin ones, free of charge.  In the future, Browne may begin a buy-back program, he said, where fisherman would bring their lead weights to the store in return for tin weights.

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