Connor Corcoran

For Connor, a Mechanical Engineering graduate, it has always been important to make a positive environmental impact.

This article is an edited version that originally appeared on the Manchester Evening News.

Protecting the natural environment

Manchester graduate, Connor Corcoran.
Working towards a healthy, green environment is vital work, says Connor.

Last year, the University topped the table of more than 1,200 universities globally on action taken towards the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The 17 SDGs are the world's call to action on the most pressing challenges and opportunities facing humanity and the natural world and many of these issues are at the heart of our core values.

Striving for a healthier, greener Manchester

For Connor Corcoran, SDG number six - clean water and sanitation - is at the heart of everything he does, and his remarkable career began with The University of Manchester.

Connor said: "I studied at The University of Manchester, and they provided lots of different course units throughout my mechanical engineering course. Some of these were focused on a more environmental approach, which really intrigued me, particularly discussing themes such as renewable energy and green ways of working.

"For me, it has always been important to have that kind of positive environmental impact. I love Manchester, and I think there's so much good being done here. In my current role, I work alongside United Utilities.

"They are given a set of guidelines by the Environmental Agency, such as what they need to be discharging from their wastewater treatment sites. We will then be tasked with improving the treatment sites to ensure they're discharging this really clean water in the interests of preserving wildlife and maintaining a clean, sustainable environment.

"Wastewater treatment sites are usually quite rural and often based out in the sticks, meaning they naturally attract a lot of wildlife. We've had one occasion where a badger got trapped inside a large tank, and he had to be rescued, which was quite cute. We've also had colleagues rescuing little ducklings with fishing nets. These stories serve to prove that we're constantly working with nature and remind us of the importance of preserving our natural environment.

"We carry out a lot of environmental impact surveys which go on in the background. My specific role is to design machinery to ensure it operates safely and does the job, which feeds the process to ensure we're supplying the homes of Greater Manchester with clean water.

"Although a lot of the work we do goes on in the background, and people aren't always aware of what we do, it's vital work that impacts everybody, every day. We ensure the people of Manchester have access to safe, clean drinking water and we ensure we're preserving natural wildlife and ecosystems in the process.

"Throughout the pandemic, there has been an increase in people going for long outdoor walks, so it's important for our work to continue so that people can continue to enjoy the natural environment.

"If our work stopped, there'd be so many watercourses without a hint of wildlife. There would be rivers without fish, which would be devastating. We all need wildlife and the natural world around us to thrive. I'm so glad that my studies at The University of Manchester have led me to where I am now, and I am very happy to be contributing towards a healthy, green environment."

Learn more about social responsibility at the University and how our graduates are making a difference in Greater Manchester.

Find out how we’re leading the world on sustainable development and read the University’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2021/22 report.

Discover more about becoming a student and studying at Manchester.